In This Issue
By Anne Cleary, PhD
As several previous Div. 3 presidents have noted in their columns, the division has been shrinking and growing older for over the past decade. Why? Because newer generations of scientists are not joining the division. In his “President’s column” from October 2010, Jeremy Wolfe stated that the average age of the division was then 66.2—a foreboding number for any organization that hopes to thrive.
Historic division: Div. 3 is one of APA’s oldest
Div. 3, formerly Experimental Psychology, is among the first 19 APA divisions formalized in 1944 during APA’s post-World War II turn toward a divisional structure of governance. This makes it one of the most long-lived divisions in APA. Why hasn't it attracted new generations of scientists when the scientific fields represented by Div. 3 have continued to grow over time? There are a number of reasons why earlier career scientists have not been eager to join. The most common reason that I hear is that it is not clear what they will personally get out of membership, especially given the expense of joining APA. Also, other organizations hold more career-relevant, scientifically important conferences (e.g., the Psychonomic Society, Association for Psychological Science, Comparative Cognition Society, Society for Neuroscience, Vision Sciences Society, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, etc.).
Why our community needs representation in APA
You might wonder: Does Div. 3 actually serve a useful purpose anymore? Has it run its course? Is it time to close up shop? These questions have, in fact, been posed by division leadership over the years. In thoughtfully and collectively thinking and talking this through, we have arrived at the general consensus that it is important to keep a place for our scientific community at the APA table. An active Div. 3 benefits all members of the scientific community, even those who are not members of APA or the division. The reason is that APA is large, well-connected in Washington, D.C., and beyond, and succeeds in lobbying efforts on behalf of psychological scientists that are unparalleled by any existing scientific organization within psychology. APA also publishes some of the largest impact, top-tier journals in the psychological sciences. Most of the scientific community that we represent publish in and read these journals. They also benefit from the lobbying that APA does on behalf of the scientific community. Div. 3 needs to continue to exist within APA to represent its broader scientific community at large and to be a voice for that community at the APA table.
The new face of Div. 3
For more than a decade, division leadership has worked hard on potential solutions for moving the division forward. Our changing face is reflected in our new name. Ralph Miller's attempt to update the name in 2009 failed, but David Washburn accomplished the name change during his presidency and Leah Light carried the torch in moving it forward during her presidency. Thanks to these efforts, we are now the Society for Experimental Psychology and Cognitive Science.
In his October 2010 “President’s column,” Jeremy Wolfe had suggested that Div. 3’s primary mission be as a service organization, “devoted to working with APA to further the goals of basic academic psychology.” I agree. Our primary mission is to stay involved in lobbying on behalf of our sciences and other service to our sciences, such as mentoring opportunities and award recognition.
Division leadership has also worked hard recruiting earlier career scientists to serve in division leadership roles. The efforts have been successful. At the 2016 business meeting in Denver, David Washburn reminded us of his “It’s On Us” campaign. The idea is that every person involved in Div. 3 should bring one more person into the division who is earlier in career stage. David articulated very well an effort that the division leadership had been engaging in for some time. Over a decade ago, Veronica Dark, who held multiple leadership roles, recruited me into Div. 3 back when I was an early career psychologist, starting with my serving as a program chair for the 2007 convention, then later serving as webmaster and listserv manager, and division at-large executive committee member. I might not be involved in Div. 3 today if it were not for the efforts of Veronica.
We now have a great leadership team that consists largely of next-generation scientists recruited by long-time division leaders like Howard Egeth, Ralph Miller, Veronica Dark, Jeremy Wolfe, Nelson Cowan, Mark McDaniel, David Washburn, Leah Light, Nancy Dess, Karen Hollis and many others who worked hard to keep the division going in the face of membership decline. Among the next-generation leadership members are myself as division president; Emily Elliott as secretary/treasurer; Matthew Rhodes and Paul Merritt as program chairs; Gene Brewer and Jeff Katz as incoming program chairs; Sarah DeLozier as graduate student rep and social media manager; Lise Abrams as fellows chair; Janine Jennings as awards chair; Early Career Representative Sharda Umanath; Newsletter Editor William Whitham; and newly added Executive Committee members Will Stoops, Jessica Witt and Matthew Rhodes.
Thank you to those who came before us for helping to put into place a next-generation leadership within Div. 3. I think you all succeeded! Now as David Washburn put it, “it’s on us.” We need to continue the leadership structure, and the pursuit of our new mission as a service organization that keeps a place at the APA table for the scientific community at large.
Why you should join
As a service organization for the scientific community at large, the division aims for adequate representation from the scientific fields that the Society for Experimental Psychology and Cognitive Science is meant to represent. Jeremy Wolfe suggested in 2010 that we should aim for representation from every psychology department in the country. That seems a lofty goal, but some new changes to the division make it feasible.
First of all, in our change to becoming a society, we now have a mechanism that makes it inexpensive to join Div. 3: Membership in Div. 3 does not require membership in APA. This makes membership much more affordable now to people who are not already APA members. You can join for just $20.
Second of all, you’ll be contributing to our ongoing efforts to keep scientific psychology’s place at the APA table; you’ll also be helping to ensure that your particular realm of psychology has voice within our division as we work to represent all of our communities, and that you yourself have voice. You could also consider the division membership dues as donating a small amount of money for a good cause for your field. If you would like to participate in division leadership (e.g., run for elections, serve on committees) and/or be considered for APA fellow status within the division, then become a full APA member. We welcome new potential leadership in the division, especially from earlier-career stage scientists who might someday be considered for APA fellow status.
Finally, Div. 3’s use of the annual APA convention is becoming its own unique opportunity. As you will see from the Div. 3 highlights from the 2016 APA Convention in Denver, Div. 3 has been taking the approach of making it an all-invited, smaller, more intimate networking opportunity for people working in a related field than is possible at the larger, more standard scientific conferences. This type of venue is a particularly useful networking opportunity for early career scientists. As an example, in Denver we held an all-invited poster symposium in which a mixture of established and early-career scientists, students and post-docs, showcased their latest science of learning work to others in the science of learning community. We hope to continue using the APA convention as an opportunity to create small, intimate network opportunities in particular subfields of the sciences that we represent.
So, there are lots of reasons why you should become one of the new faces at Div. 3.