The Association for Psychological Science (APS) is a prime mover in the effort to apply scientific rigor and tenets to a relatively nascent field of inquiry. While many beyond the discipline consider it, at best, a soft or social science due to its traditional lack of reproducibility and standardization, this organization seeks to change that. Learn more about its mission, its members, and the work it promotes.
Their Roles and Purposes
While organizations such as the American Psychological Association (APA) do devote a portion of their overall energies to advancing the science of psychology, APS is a specialized organization, which spends all of its efforts on this mission. Although APA advocates the application of scientific method and reproducibility of experimental and established treatment outcomes, it also seeks to embrace the full spectrum of variable and culturally-sensitive treatment and analytical options.
The Association for Psychological Science examines the interplay between human biology, environment, and culture, applying the rigor of detailed, sensitive investigative techniques and repeatable testing mechanisms. This is part of their effort to expand the legitimacy of findings beyond the boundaries of a single culture or culture group.
In essence, the root of their cause is to bring science fully into the discipline of psychology, to standardize testing structures in such a way that the findings speak to the needs of all humans in every environment or culture. They formally advocate for greater rigor in testing ethics, transparency of results, and an expansion of general knowledge for the public benefit.
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Why It Matters
Because psychology, however culturally bound or broadly applicable, is a social science and deeply involved with both the interior mechanisms of the brain-mind link and human response to the environment, potential ethical issues abound. APS works to standardize the exploration of the human mind in all contexts and cultures to ensure ethical experimental procedures and study designs, as well as the interpretation and application of data.
Transparency is another issue the discipline has battled. In the past, dire ethical concerns arose due to the experimentation and practices of some psychologists. A lack of disciplinary rigor attends these concerns, primarily when there was little or no oversight for the proposed experiment or study. To remedy these vital concerns, APS hosts regular, well-attended conferences each year and works to publish accessible, clear literature on the subject.
This not only accomplishes the goal of increased awareness and availability of data or current theoretical perspectives, but it also serves as the fertile ground for collaboration and helps practitioners of psychological science to maintain ongoing intelligence about the field. At conferences and by writing and reading the work of fellow scientists, new concepts are vetted and experiments or studies replicated.
While the organization began in 1988 with a mere 400 members, today it connects more than 30,000 scientists internationally. Each of these individual psychologists holds that the purposes and impacts of their practice must enhance and protect the welfare of humans everywhere, irrespective of culture or nationality. APS holds each of its members to a rigorous and binding code of ethics.
Part of their mission is to remove geographical and disciplinary boundaries to ensure ethical practice and procedure, help to improve human life experience and advance the understanding of how the human species engages with the world, each other, and other living organisms. In essence, while distinct cultures have traditional or culturally preferred ideas and ways to cope with life, the Association for Psychological Science seeks to offer a standard, rigorously scientific alternative that may be applied universally for the benefit of all.