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The International Union of Psychological Science

Although most people know that there are international organizations of psychology, few distinguish between global, umbrella organizations such as IUPsyS, and the close to 50 psychology organizations whose name begins with the word “International."

By Merry Bullock, PhD

This July, the organizational sponsor of the International Congress of Psychology, the International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS*), held its general assembly meetings, where delegates from its 70+ members gathered to discuss policy, budget, and future directions, and to elect officers and an execuive committee to carry out their mandate for the next four years leading up to the 2012 International Congress of Psychology in Cape Town, South Africa.

What is the IUPsyS and what does it DO?
Although most people know that there are international organizations of psychology, few distinguish between global, umbrella organizations such as IUPsyS, and member organizations, such as the International Association of Applied Psychology – IAAP, the International Association of Cross Cultural Psychology – IACCP, or any other of the close to 50 psychology organizations whose name begins with the word “International”; (see www.apa.org/international/intlorgs.html for a comprehensive list of international psychology organizations).

The International Union of Psychological Science or IUPsyS  is an organization of organizations. It has over 70 members, which are the national associations of psychology, coalitions of such associations if there are many in a country, or academies of science that represent the discipline broadly in their country. IUPsyS sees itself as the global voice for psychology, and as the organization that represents psychology to global science and policy bodies such as the UN system, international science organizations such as the International Council for Science (ICSU) or the International Social Sciences Council (ISSC), WHO, and the like. For more information see www.iupsys.org.

Some highlights from the July IUPsyS assembly meeting illustrate its scope.

  • IUPsyS adopted a strategic plan. This plan, mandated by its Assembly more than 4 years ago, sets out a bold agenda for psychology [of representational activities and] of capacity building to strengthen the discipline (through plans for a number of brain storming consensus meetings), national associations (through national capacity building activities), and individuals (through research training workshops); of outreach and representation to raise the public face of psychology, and of seminal publications. This plan was adopted to guide the work of the Union over the next quadrennium. It can be viewed at www.iupsys.org/stratplan2008.pdf.

  • IUPsyS adopted a set of universal principles for psychologists. The principles, developed over more than 5 years of consultation, workshops, drafts and revisions, were adopted by the IUPsyS Assembly, and subsequently by the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP) Board of Directors. It is anticipated that these principles will form a core for national associations to use in the development and refinement of codes of ethical conduct. The principles may be accessed at www.iupsys.org/ethics/univdecl2008.html.

  • IUPsyS elected a new President (Rainer Silbereisen, Germany), Vice President (Kan Zhang, China) and Executive committee with representation from most regions of the world. See the Executive committee at www.iupsys.org/execommittee.html.

Other IUPsyS highlights from the Berlin congress included signing a contract to formalize plans for the next International Congress of Psychology to be held in Cape town, South Africa in 2012, giving the first Dogan Award, a new award for psychology to recognize significant advances in the field (see article, this issue), and a number of IUPsyS invited symposia on such topics as the public face of psychology, practice issues, ethics, cognitive science and education, and capacity building.

How can individual psychologists be involved with IUPsyS?
Information on IUPsyS and its activities is available on their website. In addition, National Members serve as a conduit for information about psychology in their countries and provide opportunities for psychologists to become involved at the national level. For a list of national members and their adhering bodies see www.iupsys.org/members.html.


*(the impossible to pronounce acronym, IUPsyS, was chosen because the physiologists had already taken IUPS for their Union’s name. IUPsyS is variously pronounced Eye-You-Pea-Ess-Why-Ess or Eee-Up-Sis)