Message from the president

Ten new year’s resolutions for our division.

By Scott M. Hofer

Members of Div. 5 have made impactful contributions over many years to the sciences of mind, brain and behavior. It is an honor to serve the division as president and to work with so many dedicated colleagues on division activities.

The transition into a new year is a time to review the past and consider our many accomplishments. In terms of Div. 5, it is a time to reflect on our role and how we can better support and influence the broader field of psychological inquiry in terms of quantitative and qualitative methods. As we kick off 2016, I offer a brief top 10 list of possible resolutions pertaining to our division.

  1. Take time to appreciate the history of our division. Begin by checking out the new website and viewing the list of past presidents. The first president of Div. 5 was L.L. Thurstone in 1946, who served as president of APA in 1933 and the Psychometric Society in 1936. His contributions to measurement and methods, particularly in the area of intelligence, were fundamental and impactful. I encourage you to read his 1952 autobiography; here is the introduction:

    "The biography of an individual scientist cannot be expected to be of general interest except when there has been a spectacular achievement or a colorful personality or both. The present case has no claim to either. Some students may find encouragement in knowing that something can be accomplished in spite of much floundering with objectives that do not seem as clear as they will in retrospect." (Thurstone,1952)

    Our division has had its share of spectacular achievements and colorful personalities and a great preponderance of both. Let’s celebrate our accomplishments, while remaining mindful of Thurstone’s humility. 
  1. Take on challenging methodological problems to build better psychological science. I do find encouraging Thurstone’s reflection on accomplishments in new and perhaps ill-defined areas of brain and behavioral research. Breaking new ground does not usually come easy, and perseverance is essential. 
  2. Critically evaluate and encourage use of methods. It often takes many years for a better method to make its way into use by the broader field, if it ever does. We all need to do a better job of identifying best methods and encouraging their use (while discouraging use of less optimal ones). One way to do this is through increased collaboration with colleagues who have primarily substantive research goals.
  3. Support early career scholars and students in developing methodological expertise. One way to achieve the aim of seeing greater application of new and best methods is to encourage our students to collaborate on papers that advance substantive theory through advanced methods and measurement. This has immediate impacts on the broader field of psychology.
  4. Provide training in methods. We can do more at our annual convention to provide training in methods, and I encourage you to consider providing a workshop at the annual meeting. There are many opportunities for workshops at other conferences (e.g., Association for Psychological Science-Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology Methodological Workshop Series) and universities, but not enough going on at the APA convention.
  5. Contribute to the broader field of quantitative and qualitative methods. Div. 5 is one of several organizations supporting quantitative methods (e.g., Psychometric Society, Division D of the American Educational Research Association, Association for Psychological Science, Psychonomic Society, Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology). We’ve been discussing how we might best increase cross-organization collaborations, supports for early career scholars and exchange of ideas in a more general venue.
  6. Engage in major national and international initiatives. There is great potential for psychological methods to contribute directly to other disciplines and support major national and international initiatives, such as precision medicine and early detection of dementia-related change. Our expertise in measurement models, predictive analytics and within-person research design are fundamental for health-related research and evaluation of preventative interventions. Many of the key interventions are lifestyle choices and behaviors, and Div. 5 members have much to offer and many are doing so already. But we can do more and publish in areas outside of psychology with references back to quantitative and qualitative psychological methods.
  7. Find common ground between quantitative and qualitative methods. The individual is largely the focus in psychological science and forms the natural bridge between methodological approaches. There is much to gain from considering both approaches within the same research area, and we need to encourage more collaborations along these lines.
  8. Contribute to our new website. Our new site is only recently up and running. Please let us know what you think and what else you would like to see on the site.
  9. Bring in new leadership. Please consider joining the leadership of Div. 5 and advancing some of the above activities. We welcome your contributions and ideas.

I have high hopes for 2016 and beyond. Cheers and best wishes for a happy and productive new year.

Reference

Thurstone, L.L. (1952). L.L. Thurstone. In G. Lindzey (Ed.), A history of psychology in autobiography (Vol. VI, pp. 294 -321). Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall. https://www.brocku.ca/MeadProject/Thurstone/Thurstone_1952.html.