In Brief

After almost 10 years of development, the first edition of the APA Dictionary of Psychology rolled out July 15. The reference work defines some 25,000 words and phrases derived from the psychological literature.

"It's been a top priority of the APA book publishing department to develop and produce this snapshot of the lexicon of psychology as it exists at the beginning of the 21st century," says Julia Frank-McNeil, senior director of APA Books.

The headwords--the words and phrases defined in the dictionary--come from multiple sources, explains APA Director of Reference Ted Baroody. APA first purchased the rights to an earlier dictionary, Longman's Dictionary of Psychology and Psychiatry. Then, reference staff combed through years of abstracts in the PsycINFO database to identify additional headwords.

Finally, APA-member content experts--who served as contributors or editorial board members--edited or composed entirely new definitions for the resulting 37,000 terms. APA Reference staff further refined these and pared the full list to the 25,000 that appear in the first edition.

"At all editorial levels, our aim has been to represent both academic and scientific terminology and common, everyday language," Baroody says. "So we have entries on 'transcranial magnetic stimulation' and 'spectrally opponent cell' on the one hand, and 'forgiveness' and 'quality of life' on the other."

The audience for the dictionary is purposely broad, according to Frank-McNeil. "The dictionary is meant primarily for grad students through all professional levels of psychologists--academics, researchers and practitioners," she says. "But we also hope that we have struck the right tone so that the general public will find the work extremely useful."

APA Books is already planning to publish expanded and updated editions of the dictionary, as well as abridged, undergraduate student and specialty versions, according to Frank-McNeil.

In a prepublication notice about the dictionary, Kirkus Reviews noted "In a science that has not been known for its clarity of terms, this lexicon is not only welcome, but invaluable."


Further Reading

For more information, visit APA Dictionary of Psychology.