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Association for Psychological Science’s Annual Convention is a Place for Us

Kathleen D. Vohs
University of Minnesota

The Association for Psychological Science (APS) is general psychology’s premier scientific association. Each year its flagship convention attracts around 4,500 psychological scientists who gather to meet, greet, and exchange ideas.

The convention has a number of attractive features. It meets in a rotating sequence of some of the most exciting cities in the U.S.: San Francisco, Washington DC, New York City, Chicago, and Boston, the latter being the site of this year’s meeting. Plus, you never have to wonder when the meeting takes place because it always occurs the weekend abutting Memorial Day at the end of May. This year’s meeting is May 25-28.

I am a huge fan of our society’s annual meeting, the SPSP conference. Although when I was mainly just attending the SPSP meeting, I missed learning about new directions across psychological science. The APS convention provides the chance to check out cutting-edge work from across psychology, hear from awardees who represent the best of psychological science, and catch up with friends whose work is outside of social and personality.

Besides social and personality, the convention features work from developmental, cognitive, methodology, industrial/organizational, clinical, and biological/neuroscientific psychology. Social and personality punches well above its weight, bringing in more than 25% of attendees and submissions. This is a place for us.

As the social area program chair, my role for the past three years, I get dedicated space on the program for invited social psychology sessions, as well as help the convention chair (led this year by Lani Shiota) create sessions with topics that cut across areas of psychology. A cross-cutting symposium that may be of interest to personality and social psychologists was born out of my sense that there are countless studies on romantic relationships, leaving the vast diversity of other relationships woefully underappreciated. The Many Flavors of Relationships session underscores the value in understanding how parental discord affects children, mentoring partnerships, adult sibling relationships, and friendship in adulthood. The Science of Fear cross-cutting symposium also touches on topics related to our society’s core interests, such as trauma, perceptions of danger, and interactions with outgroups.

This year, invited social psychology sessions offer something for everyone. One session highlights the costs of morality (Cushman, Ellemers, Pizarro, and Skitka), and another the neglected role of attention (Kim, Knowles, Strayer, and Van Boven). Rewards and punishments in social life (Eisenberger, Guinote, Topolinski, and Wager), and fresh approaches to studying motivation (Harmon-Jones, Kruglanski, Rogers, and Warneken) round out the list. All talks take place on Saturday May 27th.

My counterpart overseeing the personality program, Jess Tracy, has an impressive line-up of speakers and topics. Included in the personality schedule is a symposium on the form, function, and moral relevance of disgust (Anderson, Pizarro, Schnall, and Tybur), testesterone’s impact on status and dominance (Carre, Tackett, Terburg, and van Anders), empathy and social support (Coan), stressful childhood environments (Griskevicius), and an overview by Norem. Talks take place on Saturday May 27th.

Looking for more active participation? The APS convention has a number of offerings to sharpen your skills inside and outside of the classroom. If you're looking to develop your pedagogy, the teaching institute is your home. If you’re feeling deficient in statistics or methods, why not take a workshop? Experts on social relations modeling (Malloy), Bayesian analyses (Wagenmakers), R (Revelle), and experience sampling (Kwapil) will guide your exploration of new techniques.

SPSP generously sponsors an annual happy hour that provides gathering place for like-minded attendees. What better for a society focused on people? We started this event only two years ago, and it has grown like gangbusters. Last year I showed up 10 minutes into the event, and we were almost out of drink tickets already! (We got more.) Come and be happy with fellow personality and social psychologists on Friday May 26 from 4-6pm.

Hoping to see you and your work at the APS convention this May in Boston, in San Francisco (2018), Washington, DC (2019), or Chicago (2020)!

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