|Robert Logie, PhD, University of Edinburgh, UK|
Louis Shomette, Executive Director
The Psychonomic Society is one of the primary societies for general scientific experimental psychology in the United States. It is open to international researchers, and around 25% of members are based outside of North America. Although open to all areas of experimental psychology, its members typically study areas related to cognitive psychology, such as learning, memory, attention, motivation, perception, categorization, decision making, and psycholinguistics. Its name is taken from the word psychonomics, meaning "the science of the laws of the mind".
The Psychonomic Society is the home for scientists who study how the mind works. Members of the Society are experimental psychologists among whose numbers are some of the most distinguished researchers in the field. The mission of the Psychonomic Society is to promote the communication of scientific research in psychology and allied sciences. It achieves this goal through two main mechanisms: (1) an annual meeting devoted to the presentation of scientific papers; and (2) the publication of scholarly journals in a variety of domains relating to cognition.
Many members of the society are concerned with the application of psychology to health, technology and education, and many use converging methods such as neuroscience and computational science to achieve their research goals. A common underlying thread of the Society’s research is the use of behavioral techniques to better understand mental functioning. The Society and its members perform and promote the basic science of behavior in areas such as memory, learning, problem solving, action planning, language, and perception that connect with other fields of research.
The Society works closely with other societies that focus on allied fields of research. The Society also support advocacy for research funding by working in partnership with the Federation of Associations in Brain and Behavioral Sciences (FABBS).
The society includes about 2,500 members, including graduate student members. Emeritus, Fellows, and Full Members hold Ph.D. or equivalent degrees in their field. To be eligible for Fellow status, researchers must have published significant research other than their doctoral dissertation.
History The Psychonomic Society was founded by a group of experimental psychologists during a meeting in Chicago, Illinois, in December 1959. The main goal was to create a society that would support open communication about psychological science with minimal structure. An interesting article about the Society's inception and history can be found in Dewsbury, D. A., & Bolles, R. C. (1995). The founding of the Psychonomic Society. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 2, 216-233.
For over five decades, the Psychonomic Society has played a critical role in promoting scientific research in psychology and allied sciences. Understanding its beginnings are key to understanding the Society's current position and how it plans to build on its tradition and transform certain aspects of its work to meet the evolving needs of its members and better serve the field over the next ten years.
In 1959, a small group of experimental psychologists recognized the need for a distinct society that would support open and accessible communications about new research on experimental and cognitive psychology. They took the radical step of breaking away from their dominant association of the day, the American Psychological Association, to create a smaller, more select and less formal society with a minimal structure and sole focus on experimental work rather than practice-related research. Their early success in publishing a journal to report on the latest experimental research paved the way for the Psychonomic Society ("Society" or "PS") to ultimately self-publish six distinct journals and build a membership of over 2,000 researchers. The Society's Annual Meeting has become a highly regarded scientific meeting that is the first place where many graduate psychology students learn about the field of experimental and cognitive psychology and hear leaders in that field present and discuss their latest research.
However, psychology is a science that is constantly evolving, and the past ten years have seen dramatic changes and an expansion of the field, particularly at its juncture with neuroscience. New and more specialized societies have been created to focus on particular types of science, much as the Psychonomic Society was created in 1959. There has also been a dramatic shift for the Society as it embraced the modern publishing process, divested itself of its own publishing house, and contracted with Springer Publishing to produce its six journals. There was also a transition of Society management from internal staff to an external management firm. In addition, the publishing contract brought in a new and substantial revenue stream that has put the Psychonomic Society in a position to consider various new programs.
The Society's Governing Board (GB) realized that new income not only gave it an incredible opportunity but also a grave responsibility to decide which exciting opportunities to take on. They wanted to consider which of these efforts would allow the Society to move forward in the best way. They also saw the need to invest financially not only in the future stability of the Society but also in its meeting, journals and its members and their research - the reason it exists in the first place.
To help them make the right decisions about future directions, the Governing Board first undertook an assessment of where the Society stood at present and what its goals should be for the future. They wanted to make sure the Psychonomic Society retains the qualities that its members value and yet is nimble enough to change with the times. A strategic planning process was used to chart a course for the Society for the next decade. That process was grounded first in the Society's mission and membership and an expression of who we work for and with those elements are articulated below, followed by an overview of the planning process, the issues it raised, and the strategic priorities, goals and strategies that the Society will focus on over the next ten years.
Its organizing committee included: Wilfred J. Brogden, William K. Estes, Frank Geldard, Clance H. Graham, Lloyd G. Humphreys, Clifford T. Morgan, William D. Neff, Kenneth W. Spence, Stanley Smith Stevens, Benton J. Underwood, and William S. Verplanck.
The Psychonomic Society convenes every year in the fall, usually November. Normally, around 2,600 people attend, with 1,300 papers and posters presented.
The first meeting was held at the University of Chicago in 1960, in conjunction with the American Psychological Association meeting. Many of the meetings of the society have occurred in Chicago (in the 1960s) and St. Louis (in the 1970s). In recent years, the meeting has moved between major convention cities in the USA and Canada. There are occasional international meetings of the Society, the first of which was held jointly with the UK Experimental Psychology Society in Edinburgh, UK in 2007. Starting in 2001, the meeting instituted a keynote address honoring distinguished members.
The Psychonomic Society publishes six journals covering the full range of experimental psychology:
The journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review provides coverage spanning a broad spectrum of topics in all areas of experimental psychology, intended for a general readership. The journal is primarily dedicated to the publication of theory and review articles and brief reports of outstanding experimental work. Areas of coverage include attention and perception, cognitive psychology, psycholinguistics, behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, memory, comparative psychology, social cognition, and cognitive development.
Memory & Cognition covers human memory and learning, conceptual processes, psycholinguistics, problem solving, thinking, decision making, and skilled performance, including relevant work in the areas of computer simulation, information processing, mathematical psychology, developmental psychology, and experimental social psychology.
- Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics (formerly Perception & Psychophysics)
Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics spans all areas of research in sensory processes, perception, attention, and psychophysics. Most articles published are reports of experimental work; the journal also presents theoretical, integrative, and evaluative reviews. Commentary on issues of importance to researchers appears in a special section of the journal.
Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience (CABN) offers theoretical, review, and primary research articles on behavior and brain processes in humans. Coverage includes normal function as well as patients with injuries or processes that influence brain function: neurological disorders, including both healthy and disordered aging; and psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and depression. CABN is the leading vehicle for strongly psychologically motivated studies of brain–behavior relationships, through the presentation of papers that integrate psychological theory and the conduct and interpretation of the neuroscientific data. The range of topics includes perception, attention, memory, language, problem solving, reasoning, and decision-making; emotional processes, motivation, reward prediction, and affective states; and individual differences in relevant domains, including personality.
- Learning & Behavior (formerly Animal Learning & Behavior)
Learning & Behavior presents experimental and theoretical contributions and critical reviews concerning fundamental processes of learning and behavior in nonhuman and human animals. Topics covered include sensation, perception, conditioning, learning, attention, memory, motivation, emotion, development, social behavior, and comparative investigations.
- Behavior Research Methods (formerly Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers)
Behavior Research Methods publishes articles concerned with the methods, techniques, and instrumentation of research in experimental psychology. The journal focuses particularly on the use of computer technology in psychological research. An annual special issue is devoted to this field.
Beginning with the 37th Annual meeting, abstracts of the society's annual meeting are published in Abstracts of the Psychonomic Society, starting with Volume 1 (in 1996), and numbered consecutively. Prior to this, the abstracts were published in the 'Program of the Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society.'
The Psychonomic Society provides a range of awards with the aim of advancing scientific psychology. Each year, the Society recognizes its members and promising students with the following awards and honors:
- Clifford T. Morgan Best Article Award
Each August, the Publications Committee will ask the editor of each journal to select the best paper that was published in journal in the last year. The selected first authors of those papers will be honored at the Annual Meeting and receive a monetary award.
- Early Career Award
The Psychonomic Society will confer scientific awards each year upon young scientists who have made significant contributions to scientific psychology early in their careers.
- Select-Speaker Award
Each year, the Psychonomic Society will give up to 10 Select Speaker Awards for Members (not Fellows) of the Society. Each Awardee will present his/her research as a spoken talk rather than a poster at the Annual Meeting.
- Graduate Travel Award
Each year, the Psychonomic Society will give up to 15 Graduate Travel Awards for Student Members of the Society. Each Awardee will receive a travel stipend of $1,000.
- Psychonomic Society/Women in Cognitive Science Travel and Networking Award for Junior Scientists
Two awards will be given to qualified candidates from any area of the Psychonomic Society who have had a presentation accepted at the annual meeting, to facilitate networking with two senior scientists at the annual meeting.
- Dewsbury, D. A., & Bolles, R. C. (1995) The founding of the Psychonomic Society. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review 2, 216-233.
- Dewsbury, D. A. (1996) History of the Psychonomic Society II: The Journal Publishing Program. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 3, 322-338.