Zimbardo (2004) AP

Zimbardo (2004) AP - Does Psychology Make a Significant...

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Does Psychology Make a Significant Difference in Our Lives? Philip G. Zimbardo Stanford University The intellectual tension between the virtues of basic versus applied research that characterized an earlier era of psy- chology is being replaced by an appreciation of creative applications of all research essential to improving the quality of human life. Psychologists are positioned to “give psychology away” to all those who can benefit from our wisdom. Psychologists were not there 35 years ago when American Psychological Association (APA) President George Miller first encouraged us to share our knowledge with the public. The author argues that psychology is indeed making a significant difference in people’s lives; this article provides a sampling of evidence demonstrating how and why psychology matters, both in pervasive ways and specific applications. Readers are referred to a newly developed APA Web site that documents current opera- tional uses of psychological research, theory, and method- ology (its creation has been the author’s primary presiden- tial initiative): www.psychologymatters.org. D oes psychology matter? Does what we do, and have done for a hundred years or more, really make a significant difference in the lives of indi- viduals or in the functioning of communities and nations? Can we demonstrate that our theories, our research, our professional practice, our methodologies, our way of think- ing about mind, brain, and behavior make life better in any measurable way? Has what we have to show for our dis- cipline been applied in the real world beyond academia and practitioners’ offices to improve health, education, welfare, safety, organizational effectiveness, and more? Such questions, and finding their answers, have al- ways been my major personal and professional concern. First, as an introductory psychology teacher for nearly six decades, I have always worked to prove relevance as well as essence of psychology to my students. Next, as an author of the now classic basic text, Psychology and Life Zimbardo, 1971), which claimed to wed psychology to life applications, I constantly sought to put more psychology in our lives and more life in our psychology (Gerrig & Zim- bardo, 2004; Zimbardo, 1992). To reach an even broader student audience, I have coauthored Core Concepts in Psychology strives to bring the excitement of scientific and applied psychology to students in state and community colleges. In order to further expand the audience for what is best in psychology, I accepted an invitation to help create, be scientific advisor for, and narrator of the 26-program PBS TV series, Discovering Psychology (1990/2001). For this general public audience, we have provided answers—as viewable instances—to their “so what?” questions. This award-winning series is shown both nationally and inter- nationally (in at least 10 nations) and has been the foun- dation for the most popular telecourse among all the An-
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This note was uploaded on 03/11/2010 for the course PSYC 101 taught by Professor Pomeran during the Fall '08 term at Rice.

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Zimbardo (2004) AP - Does Psychology Make a Significant...

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