A new APA online compendium promotes how psychological research makes a difference in people's daily lives--ranging from how behavioral economics can help people make better choices with their money to how exercise can help with the treatment of some mental disorders.
The Web site, www.psychologymatters.org, stems from a presidential initiative of Philip G. Zimbardo, PhD, who, as APA's 2002 president, aimed to educate the public about what psychologists do and the applicability of their research in schools, hospitals, businesses, communities and government.
To launch the site, Zimbardo teamed with a task force of APA journal editors, textbook authors, psychologists and staff from APA's Public Communications Office, which will review new submissions and update the compendium's content.
So far, the compendium includes 19 research domains, including sports/exercise, health, parenting, education, life span and safety. The compendium also includes a glossary of psychological terms and a timeline of psychology's history.
"We are trying to highlight the research that has had a significant impact on something in our world--whether that be workplace or highway safety or in our classrooms," says Rhea Farberman, APA executive director for public and member communications. As such, the Web-based compendium presents the studies in a simple, jargon-free format, she notes.
It also brings together psychological research, theories and methodologies into a single place that can have global reach, Zimbardo says. Hopefully, he adds, it will serve as a model that other psychological associations across the world will follow too.
"We can point to specific incidences where some [psychological] methodology, theory or research has really had an impact in our lives by changing the way we do business, changing the way we function in clinics, hospitals or the schools," says Zimbardo, a professor emeritus of psychology at Stanford University.
For example, psychologists have demonstrated that massage therapy of premature infants for a brief time each day during intensive care can stimulate their growth and shorten their hospital stay, on average, by six days compared with premature babies who are not given massage therapy. Nearly 40 percent of neonatal intensive care units across the United States now give massage therapy to preemies, which can provide a savings of $10,000 in hospital costs per infant.
Indeed, notes David Myers, PhD--co-chair with Robert Bjork, PhD, of a task force that helped originally decide the site's content--the compendium shows connections between landmark research and its actual impact on people's lives.
"The site is not only good for students and the general public but also for people who are wondering why psychological science is fruitful for funding," adds Myers, a psychology professor at Hope College, author of introductory and social psychology textbooks and pioneer in emotional-intelligence research and theory.
Any psychologist can submit content to the compendium; sub missions must include the practical application of a study's findings and how it has made a significant difference in people's lives. Additional guidelines for submissions are available at the site.
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