Monica Biernat: Statement

I have been a member of SPSP since graduate school in the late 1980s, though I can only definitively date my membership to 1991, when I began receiving issues of PSPB (which still sit on my office shelves). I became a Fellow in 2003, and have been active in SPSP in a number of ways, including stints as Secretary/Treasurer, Program and Convention chair, representative to APA Council, Co-Editor of the society newsletter, Dialogue, Editor of Personality and Social Psychology Review, and currently as a member of the Publication Committee. My SPSP membership is a key part of my academic identity, and I would be honored to serve as the organization’s President.

SPSP has grown tremendously since the 1980s in terms of membership, services, and reach. Each year I attend the convention or send students to the SPSP Summer School, I am impressed with all that SPSP does. This growth brings opportunity as well as challenges, and as President I would be particularly attuned to several issues:

Attention to member needs throughout their careers

Much of SPSP’s growth is in undergraduate and graduate student memberships, and it is exciting to see so many young people interested in our field. We draw these students in through our convention and other programming, including Summer school and the SPUR program. I would like SPSP to think more deeply about retaining these members as they move through career stages in the field, and about serving the needs of current members at different career stages. Do we provide adequate services for post-docs and new assistant professors? For students moving into non-academic jobs? For faculty going up for tenure? For mid- and late-career academics? SPSP should aim to keep and serve its members for life.

Diversity and inclusion

As a researcher, I have focused on gender and race bias in social judgment, and I am concerned about fairness, equity, diversity, and inclusion in everyday settings, including our workplaces, organizations, and conferences. SPSP’s Diversity and Climate Committee has spurred many great initiatives, including the recent climate and sexual harassment surveys. We should continue our work to make social and personality psychology an open and welcoming field, society, and conference for all gender, racial/ethnic, sexual orientation, age, religious, functional, cultural, socioeconomic, political, and other groups. Diversity in our areas of study, in our academic focus (e.g., teaching versus research), and in our work settings (e.g., academic versus nonacademic) should also be valued and promoted throughout our organization, and evident in leadership roles.

Serving the science

Our science is key to all we do, and I would prioritize SPSP’s support for diverse science and diverse scientists through conferences, grants, publications, and open discussion about best practices.

Smart growth and assessment of programs

In light of concerns about the potential of declining revenue from our journals, we will need to carefully consider and perhaps reconsider where and how SPSP’s spends its money. Assessment of our existing programs and extensive input from our members should be part of this process.