The Society for the
Study of Social Issues


SPSSI Policy Program

Bringing empirically sound research findings to bear on public policy is at the core of SPSSI's mission. This goal is furthered in many ways, including active engagement in scientific study of human behavior in critical social situations, sharing the results of that research in scholarly settings, and providing relevant data to those engaged in developing public policy.

SPSSI members are concerned with both US and international issues, and has been affiliated with the United Nations as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) since 1987. While SPSSI has focused primarily on U.S. policy in the past, its international membership is constantly growing and international issues have become a larger part of its work.

Currently, SPSSI is working with our membership to promote new research pertaining to immigration and to gun violence before Congress. SPSSI has in the recent past shared scientific information on the psychological antecedents and consequences of hate crime with law makers and civil rights groups. The SPSSI Policy Committee has worked with researchers to create official position statements in the areas of global climate change, same-sex marriage, and the psychological effects of unemployment, and is currently focusing on a statement on media violence.

In other recent work, SPSSI filed an influential amicus brief in the Michigan affirmative action case using psychological research on the value of diversity was used to advocate for consideration of diversity in admissions decisions. It also submitted a briefing paper to the President's Special Task Force on Interrogation and Transfer Policies concerning the detrimental effects of the use of torture in interrogation proceedings.

Historically, SPSSI has worked to apply sound scientific research to a wide array of societal problems. For example, SPSSI played a crucial role in organizing social science expertise around civil rights litigation in the 1950s. SPSSI is particularly proud of its role in Brown v Board of Education of Topeka (1954). Beginning in 1951, SPSSI's Committee of Intergroup Relations prepared statements for upcoming trials, researched and wrote articles for professional journals, and produced the 1952 Social Science Statement that helped the Brown family and others appeal their case to the Supreme Court.

SPSSI can assist advocates and policy makers by
           • Providing background information on a wide range of social issues
           • Translating, integrating, and summarizing current social science evidence
           • Identifying appropriate scientists to participate in briefings, hearings, etc.

The Policy Hub section contains briefing statements, fact sheets, pamphlets, and other materials on important social policy issues of interest. Overviews of SPSSI events like Congressional Briefings are available, as is a list of SPSSI's policy-relevant resources.

SPSSI supports the post-doctoral James Marshall Public Policy Fellowship and the pre-doctoral Dalmas A. Taylor Summer Minority Policy Internship, to provide public policy experience in Washington, DC  for qualified applicants. We also provide funding for policy-related research through Applied Social Issues Internships, Grants-in-Aid, and SAGES grants. 

If you are interested in obtaining SPSSI policy material or information, we can be reached at 202-675-6956.


Research that produces nothing but books will not suffice.
                                                                                                                    - Kurt Lewin