Division 34 / SEPCP Conference Preview

Division 34 has been working with several other APA divisions to craft a set of exciting, cross-cutting themes for our 2014 programming. These themes are all designed to be accessible to a wide audience, engage multiple interest areas in psychology, and (given our location in the US capitol) have clear policy implications. We also have a Division 34 Presidential Theme of “Psychology for People and Planet.”

2014 Convention Themes for APA Division 34 / SEPCP and Contact Persons

Environmental decision-making: Consumer behavior in a "green" world


Co-Sponsoring Divisions: 23 (Society for Consumer Psychology)


Individuals and institutions alike are frequently presented with (purported) opportunities to make pro-environmental decisions. Consumer decision-making now often incorporates concepts such as "green," "earth-friendly," and "sustainable" at both the individual and institutional levels. Symposia and posters are invited that examine psychological phenomena related to the broad theme of "green consumerism" (e.g., the role of identity and affect, goal pursuit, etc.) that shape environmental decision-making within and beyond the context of consumer choice.


Contact: Ezra Markowitz

From Connection to Protection: Exploring Place, Spirit and Meaning in Environmentalism

Co-Sponsoring Divisions: 32 (Society for Humanistic Psychology), 36 (Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality)


This theme explores psychological perspectives on the relationship between religion/spirituality, meaning, and environment. Topics such as peak experience, transcendence, restoration, flow and awe all touch on similar ideas of connection with nature, connection with each other, and connection with the infinite. We invite qualitative and quantitative symposia and posters that explore the varying natural and built environments within which such connection may occur and positive outcomes, such as personal growth and pro-environmental attitudes and behavior.


Contact: Nora Davis

A Return to Kurt Lewin’s Vision: Bringing Social Psychology Back to Social Issues


Co-Sponsoring Divisions: 8 (Society for Personality and Social Psychology), 48 (Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict and Violence)


In 1946, Kurt Lewin said, “Research that produces nothing but books will not suffice” and called upon his peers to join him in leveraging the tools of psychological science to solve pressing social issues of the day. He actively promoted both field research as well as work that reached beyond mere description to investigate the conditions which bring about and/or resist change. While this traditional has certainly continued, it has remained a minority within the larger body of published psychological work. We invite symposia and poster submissions that both discuss these ideas in theory (“There is nothing more practical than a good theory”) and also represent them in practice (“If you want truly to understand something, try to change it”). 


Contact: Beth Karlin

Storytelling for the Public Good


Co-sponsored divisions: 10 (Society for the Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts), 46 (Society for Media Psychology and Technology)


Scientists, politicians, and activists often use statistics in an attempt to persuade their audience to care more about critical social issues such as climate change. However, current psychological research suggests that storytelling is a more effective strategy to alter attitudes and behaviors. This theme invites proposals that explore ways of engaging activism and inciting change - cognitive, motivational, emotional, and behavioral - for the public good through narrative and media approaches. We seek to develop an innovative program that addresses the what (messaging), the how (medium), and the why (motivation) of storytelling for the public good.

Contact: Michele Wick

What is the “real world” anyway? Exploring design in the natural, built, and virtual worlds


Co-sponsored divisions: 10 (Society for the Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts), 46 (Society for Media Psychology and Technology)


We know from decades of research that the design of a space can impact how people behave within it. This research area is rapidly changing for many reasons, for example, as a result of new media and technologies that are altering how we engage with our physical, virtual, and social environments. This theme welcomes proposals that advance and disseminate knowledge of the relationships between people and their natural, built, and social worlds. Welcome topics include, for example, virtual vs. place-based interaction, online education, social media, and technology in counseling practice.

Contact: Sally Augustin

Environmental Behavior in Organizations

Co-Sponsoring Divisions: 14 (Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology) 

We would like to highlight advances within the broad theme of "environmentally sustainable organizational behavior." We are looking for research from Div 34 members relating to organizational behavior and from Div 14 members conducting research on environmental issues. Ideal symposia will integrate measurement and organizational behavior expertise (e.g., leadership, group dynamics, motivation, training, assessment) with substantive environmental sustainability interventions and outcomes. Both basic and applied research projects are welcomed.

Symposia and poster submissions are accepted directly through the APA website and we also invite members to send us a short summary of their research about organizations and the environment so that we can coordinate individual submissions into thematic symposia. 


Contact: Elise Amel

From Preschool to Grad School: Effective Pedagogy for the Psychology of Sustainability

Co-sponsoring Division: 2 (Teaching of Psychology) 

How do you inspire new generations of psychologists to investigate and engage in the psychology of sustainability? How do you empower future citizens to use psychology effectively to address environmental problems? We invite teachers to submit approaches and tools they have found to effectively influence understanding, attitudes, and/or behavior of students in or out of the classroom. Methods supported by empirical data and analyses are especially encouraged.

Contact: Elise Amel

Div. 34 Presidential Theme

(Can be submitted for Division program only.)

“Psychology for People and Planet: Health, Conservation & Sustainability.” We have particular interest in contributions that: (1) are accessible to a wide audience, (2) engage multiple interest areas in psychology and other APA divisions, and (3) have clear implications for human wellbeing and environmental policy. Special consideration will be given to submissions that integrate or bridge the Div. 34 / SEPCP interest areas: Environmental, Population, Conservation and Ecopsychology. All submissions will receive anonymous review.

Contact Div. 34 President Thomas Doherty