On April 11, 2018 Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before the United States Congress. During his testimony, Zuckerberg expressed and stifled several emotions, such as embarrassment, frustration, disappointment, and sadness. But when he voiced his anger, he directed it toward the actions of a psychologist. That psychologist, according to Zuckerberg, put American democracy in jeopardy. Right or wrong, the world was told a story about how a certain type of psychologist posed a threat to the fruits of democracy: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What was that psychologist’s area of expertise? Social psychology.
It is time to change the narrative about what social and personality psychology have to offer. We fell in love with our fields because they helped us to better understand ourselves, our relationships, and become better global citizens. Those are the fundamental promises of our science. My mission is to motivate, encourage, advocate, and incentivize people to communicate these promises to the public. As a board member, I will work with the Executive Committee to accomplish and align this public outreach mission with SPSP’s vision and values.
By public, I mean anyone who will never become a member of SPSP. We talk to each other a lot. We review each other’s papers, grants, and tweet at and retweet each other’s thoughts. We share with each other about how to improve our science. We spend most of our waking hours thinking about how our work can cultivate the scholarly field that others have hoed before us. How much time do we devote to fulfilling the promises of our science toward people who will never read our articles, attend our conferences, or give us anything in return?
We are at fork in the road. Either we continue on our current path, talking mostly to each other and not enough to those outside of our silo. Or we can take a new direction, one where we recognize that the true value of our science is how much it can improve the lives of the people we will never meet, the people craving a more meaningful life, the people who want a scientific solution to solve their personal, relationship, or global concerns. The decision is ours. The consequences affect everyone.