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SPSSI Council Adopts Two New Position Statements

Joan C. Chrisler (Policy Committee Chair)

At the June Council Meeting in New Orleans, the Policy Committee proposed, and the Council adopted, two new position statements. 

The first statement co-authored by Deborah Belle and Heather E. Bullock, concerns the Psychological Consequences of Unemployment.  The authors reviewed behavioral science research that demonstrates that unemployment has both physical and mental health consequences for unemployed individuals and their families.  Stress related to unemployment also affects friends and former co-workers of unemployed people, as it raises anxiety that they themselves will lose their jobs.  Furthermore, high, and long-term, rates of unemployment destabilize neighborhoods and impact the broader community.  The authors reviewed protective factors that can mediate the effects of unemployment on individuals and communities.  The statement ends by calling upon policymakers at all levels to apply the findings of behavioral science research to design programs to assist the long-term unemployed and by calling upon behavioral scientists to conduct more research on these and related topics.  This new statement is timely given the current state of the world economy and the U.S.’s “jobless recovery” from the recent recession.

The second statement, co-authored by Janet Swim and Susan Clayton, concerns Global Climate Change.  The authors argue that SPSSI’s core interests (i.e., poverty, prejudice, peace) are pertinent to the causes and consequences of global climate change.  Climate change research is generally thought to be in the purview of the physical sciences, yet climate change is affected by human behavior and has effects upon human behavior and well-being.  As climate change worsens, its impact upon the world’s population will not be uniform.  The poorest people in the poorest countries will suffer the most.  The authors call upon behavioral scientists to conduct research relevant to the psychological and social causes and consequences of global climate change and on funding agencies to support psychologists’ research.  They call upon policymakers to attend to and utilize psychological science, and they urge everyone to keep in mind the most vulnerable people who will be least resilient to the impact of climate change.

The new position statements are available on the SPSSI website.  To access them, click on the Policy button on the homepage.  On the Policy page you will see a menu of statements SPSSI Council has adopted since 1937.  The most recent previous statements concern Interrogation and Torture (2007) and the Death Penalty (2001).  SPSSI members should feel free to circulate these statements to policymakers, journalists, researchers, applied psychologists, students, and others who might be interested.  Keep in mind that these statements reflect the opinion of SPSSI leaders; they do not represent the position of the American Psychological Association.

The Policy Committee has several other statements under development, and they are currently looking for people to write position statements on Healthcare Disparities and on Effects of Immigration Reform Proposals (e.g., AZ 1070).   If you would like to work on either of those topics, or have suggestions of other topics you would like the Policy Committee to address, contact the committee’s chair, Joan C. Chrisler at  The other members of the committee for 2009-2010 are Mark Costanzo, Michelle Fine, Linda Silka, and Richard Weiner.

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