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APA Task Force for Increasing the Number of Quantitative Psychologists Makes Plans

To address the number of students entering quantitative psychology, we believe that it is necessary to educate multiple groups of individuals about the field of quantitative psychology as a distinct sub-discipline of psychology.

By Leona S. Aiken

In February, 2006, the APA Council and Board of Directors funded a task force of quantitative psychologists charged to develop strategies for increasing the number of quantitative psychologists. Funding of the Task Force was in response to an initiative of APA Division 5 - Evaluation, Measurement, and Statistics.

At present, the demand for quantitative psychologists in academic departments, in research settings, and in industry exceeds the supply. Psychology departments at major universities search for multiple years to fill quantitative positions; the testing industry cannot keep up with demand for experts in psychometrics.


Task Force members were selected by the APA Board of Scientific Affairs and include quantitative psychologists: Leona S. Aiken, Chair; Mark Appelbaum, Herman Aguinis, Gwyneth Boodoo, Michael Edwards, Richard Gonzalez, Abigail Panter, and TOPPS representative, Debra Park. APA staff liaisons include Marianne Ernesto, Science Directorate and Paul Nelson, Education Directorate.

In July, 2006, at its first meeting, the Task Force developed a definition of quantitative psychology to guide deliberations:

  • Quantitative psychology is the study of methods and techniques for measurement of human attributes, the modeling of psychological processes, the design of research studies, and the analysis of psychological data.

  • We develop new methods and theory, apply and evaluate the methodology.

  • These areas and activities are fundamental to all psychological research and understanding.

  • It is central to the discipline of psychology: science, education, public interests and practice

Task Force efforts are driven by two over-arching questions:

  1. How do we increase the number of students with appropriate backgrounds who seek to enter doctoral training in quantitative psychology?

  2. Do we have the resources to train a notably increased number of quantitative Ph.D. students?

To address the critical issue of training resources, the Task Force will implement a survey of all quantitative Ph.D. programs in psychology, with a focus on assessing training capacity. A product of this survey is an enhanced directory of training programs in quantitative psychology that includes information on admissions requirements, faculty, curriculum, financial support. We intend this to be a central repository of information on training in quantitative psychology.

To address the number of students entering quantitative psychology, we believe that it is necessary to educate multiple groups of individuals about the field of quantitative psychology as a distinct sub-discipline of psychology. These groups include our colleagues in substantive areas of psychology, academic advisors, and students themselves. We will develop materials that provide this information and that encourage bright young people to join our field.

The task force is interested in your thoughts on the two over-arching questions that drive our efforts, stated above. Please send your ideas by email.

We look forward to hearing from you.