Eli J. Finkel: Statement

I love SPSP, and I would be delighted to continue serving the Society as Member at Large for Outreach/Advocacy. We, as a discipline, investigate topics that fascinate the general public: prejudice, sex, personality stability, happiness, political behavior, etc. The public will have robust conversations about these topics whether we contribute or not, and I believe it is incumbent upon our community to ensure that high-quality data are brought to bear whenever possible; we can’t allow public understanding to be determined exclusively the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Phil. I regularly discuss research with the general public, including in my role as a contributor to the Op-Ed page of the New York Times. I would like to increase the number of voices from our discipline that contribute to the marketplace of ideas, while simultaneously helping to ensure that we calibrate such contributions to the strength of the available evidence.

This past year, I’ve served as interim Member at Large for Outreach/Advocacy. I hosted two sessions at this year’s SPSP convention. The first, which featured Dave Nussbaum, focused on publishing Op-Ed articles. The second, which featured Elizabeth Dunn, Daniel Gilbert, Martie Haselton, and Jonathan Haidt, focused more broadly on the pros and cons of serving as a public intellectual, with a particular emphasis on writing books for the general public. Both of these sessions were practical in orientation, addressing questions like: How should one structure an Op-Ed piece? Once one has written an Op-Ed piece, what is the best strategy for getting it published? When seeking to write a book for the general public, how important is it to procure a literary agent?

I am in the early stages of implementing several additional outreach/advocacy initiatives. One involves a broader, more intensive program to educate members of our community on writing (and publishing) Op-Ed pieces. A second involves training members on how to share work with journalists (e.g., through press releases) and how to give effective interviews for different outlet types (e.g., print, radio, TV). A third involves an evaluation of SPSP’s “Character and Context” blog, with an eye toward making it even better and more influential than it is at present. It’s shaping up to be a very productive 2018.

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