Cover Story

Intertwined Sciences

Watch the ICPS Keynote Addresses:

Years ago, it was common for psychological scientists to talk about the role of genes in behavior without any input from geneticists; they would often explore questions about language and communication without dialoguing with linguists.

But an event held in March in the Netherlands illustrates a new paradigm in the study of behavioral science. Nearly 2,200 attendees from a variety of countries and scientific disciplines gathered in Amsterdam for the inaugural International Convention of Psychological Science (ICPS), with multidisciplinary research collaborations emphasized throughout 3 days of programming. Hosted by APS and members of the Initiative for Integrative Psychological Science, ICPS was designed to surmount disciplinary boundaries that can impede scientific progress and to highlight areas of investigation in which those boundaries have already been overcome.

“More so than at any previous time in our field’s history,” said APS Fellow Daniel Cervone, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who cochaired the ICPS program committee with Arnaud Rey of CNRS & Aix-Marseille Université, France, “today’s studies of people — whole intact persons who develop within cultures, societies, and communities — produce critical scientific findings that in turn are explored more deeply through the domains of cognitive and affective science, and then more deeply still through the biological tools of genetics and brain sciences. The result? Multilayered, multifaceted, integrative programs of research.”

ICPS is the brainchild of the Initiative for Integrative Psychological Science, a collaboration of Pan-European subdisciplinary groups and APS that is chaired by APS Past President Walter Mischel (Columbia University) and APS Secretary Gün R. Semin (ISPA-Instituto Universitário, Portugal, and Utrecht University, the Netherlands). The initiative’s fundamental aim is to promote cross-disciplinary research covering the broadest cultural aspects of social science to the most molecular aspects of genetics. That objective was the fundamental impetus for ICPS.

“ICPS is designed to provide a forum in which researchers from many disciplines can learn from collaborations on some of today’s most exciting scientific questions in ways that can also elucidate issues of broad public concern,” Semin said during opening remarks. “Indeed, research collaborations across academic disciplines and geographic boundaries are critical to provide the most robust view of a single problem.”

APS President Nancy Eisenberg emphasized the importance of the event’s global reach.

“As the first ever international meeting explicitly dedicated to integrative psychological science, ICPS will no doubt shape the future directions of our field and increase our ability to improve the human condition,” she said.

The ICPS program, blending empirical findings and methodological approaches from psychological science, neuroscience, economics, anthropology, public health, linguistics, computer science, and more, reflected collaborative investigations into cognition, behavior, attention, communication, health, culture, and spirituality.

“This really is a moral event,” said the eminent cognitive linguist George Lakoff, one of the keynote speakers. “The world needs to understand how the mind and all of its manifestations fit together. And it’s only by having conferences like this that that will ever happen.”

In this issue of the Observer, we highlight the keynote speeches at ICPS and share photographs from this momentous gathering. Look for coverage of various Integrative Science Symposia from ICPS in upcoming issues and on the ICPS news page.

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