Topic: How Psychology Benefits Society

High school psychology students are invited to participate in a video competition to demonstrate how psychology can benefit society at a local, regional or global level. Students are asked to identify a problem facing society and describe how psychological science can contribute toward a solution to the problem. Students are also asked how they can address the challenge through community service or volunteering.

Each submission must include a 2-5 minute video, supported by a written statement of 750-1,000 words. Four winners will be selected for this year’s competition, each of whom will receive a $400 award. The deadline for submission is April 15, 2018, and submissions should be submitted through the online form.

This competition was inspired by 2018 APA President Jessica Henderson Daniel’s APA Citizen Psychologist presidential initiative. APA Citizen Psychologists serve as leaders in their various communities, who, through prolonged engagement in significant activities, contribute to improving the lives of all.

Apply Online

Read all directions and complete your project before applying.

General Guidelines

Students are invited to submit a video on how psychology benefits society. Students should select a problem facing society that is local, regional or global in scope. Students must explain what problem is being addressed, describe the population affected and indicate whether the problem is regional, national or global in scope. Videos must describe how psychological science contributes toward a solution to the problem, mentioning current research being done in psychology regarding the problem. Finally, students are asked to apply psychological science to good citizenship or community service, describing a role(s) they can take in their community to address the problem. 

Challenges can include, but are not limited to: homelessness; poverty; adult illiteracy; refugee placement; nutrition issues; poor access to mental health facilities; health disparities; safety hazards; discrimination; racial bias; maintaining integrity of elections; environmental issues; workers injured on the job; elder abuse; child neglect; graffiti/destruction of property; or human trafficking. 

Students must also provide a written statement of 750-1,000 words formatted in APA style, that synthesizes how psychological science is relevant to the problem and solution described in the video, citing at least three peer reviewed sources that support the problem and/or solution discussed. Students should go beyond mere summarization of the research and should synthesize or combine research to describe the multifaceted impact psychological science can have on societal problems. 

Rules

Please read these rules carefully. Failure to follow these rules will result in disqualification from the competition.

  • Only high school students who have been enrolled or are currently enrolled in a psychology course (online or in person) can enter. 
  • Team submissions are not eligible.
  • Students must submit one video entry 2-5 minutes long and an accompanying written statement between 750-1,000 words. 
  • Only students who submit both a video and a written statement will be eligible for the competition.
  • No more than five (5) entries per school will be accepted.
  • All entries must be student-produced.
  • Contest entrant must write and edit all video content.  Contest entrant must operate all equipment, including all editing equipment used in the production of the presentation. The only exception is if the entrant needs someone else to hold the video camera if entrant is appearing on film. Contest entrant can borrow equipment from others (e.g. a friend’s cell phone or school video camera.)
  • Contest entrant must provide the narration, voice-over and dramatization.
  • Other individuals may be featured in the video; however, they must give permission to be filmed if 18 years of age or older.  Filmed (oral) or written permission must be given and APA may ask for proof of permission if needed. 
  • Anyone under the age 18 who appears or speaks on video, including the entrant if under age, must submit a parental/guardian permission waiver (DOC 61KB) with entry.
  • Anyone who is filmed should be credited at the end of the video.
  • All dialogue, video clips, music clips longer than 10-15 seconds, production, and editing must be an original production. You may use publicly available photographs, film, etc., within your presentation with appropriate citations and copyrighted content with permission. You must give proper credit in the credits at the end of the video. A reference page at the end of the video must provide any copyrighted sources or scholarly work. It should be readable by viewers and included within the five-minute time limit.
  • Contest entrants must credit all sources used to create the video in the end credits of the video. The end list of credits counts toward the five-minute time limit and should be readable by viewers.  The credit list should be separate from the reference page.
  •  By submitting your video, you grant APA a non-exclusive right to use, promote or display your video as it relates to this project at the sole discretion of APA.
  • APA will not be held responsible for any costs, claims, damages, liabilities, and expenses arising out of or generally related to this submission. 
  • If entrant is under 18 years of age, by submitting this video the student confirms that he or she has been granted permission by his or her parent or guardian to have his or her name, image, and/or voice posted online via the APA website. 
  • Contest entrant must work with a teacher prior to submitting the entry to ensure the submitted content follows competition guidelines and rules. Entrants are required to confirm teacher oversight when submitting their entry.
  • Entries must be submitted by April 15, 2018.
Instructions

Video

Videos must be posted to YouTube. A link to the video must be included on the cover page of the submitted written statement. The following are required:

  • Create a YouTube account if needed and upload your video.
  • While uploading, tag your video with the following keywords: APA TOPSS 2018 Contest. To tag a video, you’ll see a “Tags” section below the upload progress bar where you can add your tags. To add tags to an existing video, visit the Video Manager and click the Edit button below the video for which you’d like to add formatting tags.
  • When uploading to YouTube, choose “unlisted” from the dropdown menu (rather than public.) Once uploaded, edit the title. The end of title should include brackets [APA TOPSS 2018 Contest student last name] – e.g. Community Action [APA TOPSS 2018 Contest Smith.] Go to tab called “advanced settings” and follow three steps:
    - Uncheck “allow comments”
    - Uncheck “users can view ratings for this video”
    - Choose “Education” for category
  • Press publish when upload is complete.
  • Copy the video URL (link) and include it on the cover page of the written statement.

Written Statement

Students must also provide a written statement of 750-1,000 words formatted in APA style, that synthesizes how psychological science is relevant to the problem and solution described in the video. The statement must cite at least three peer-reviewed journal articles addressing the societal problem discussed. The statement must also contain the following:

  • A cover page. Include a running head, title of your paper, teachers name, school name and link to the video on YouTube.
  • Citations in correct APA format.
  • A reference page. 
  • Note: These sections do not count toward the total 750-1,000 word limit.
Scoring Rubric

Video (60 Total Possible Points):

Formatting (15 Total Possible Points)

  • Video cites psychological studies verbally (e.g., “According to…” or “Researchers found…”) or lists on-screen references that address the identified societal problem or a solution to the problem (5 points)
  • Video includes a reference page using APA style (5 points)
  • Video properly credits all who assisted in the acting and fully documents sources used to produce the video (5 points)

Content (25 Total Possible Points)

  • The video clearly defines the societal problem, the population affected and the level of impact (e.g., local, regional or global) (10 points)
  • The video describes how psychological science contributes toward a solution to the problem (5 points)
  • The video mentions current psychological research being done regarding this problem (year must be stated) (5 points)
  • The video describes the role the student can take through community service or volunteering to address the societal problem (5 points)

Presentation (20 Total Possible Points)

  • The video script or dialogue is substantive, clear and logical (4 points)
  • The audio and visual quality of the video are good (4 points)
  • The video is a creative product, using original media (e.g., artwork, slides, script) (4 points)
  • The video explains how psychological science can impact or help solve the societal problem described. (8 points)

Written Statement (40 Total Possible Points)

Formatting (5 Total Possible Points)

Papers must be in APA format (see the "Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association"). This includes:

  • A cover page. Include a running head, title of your paper, teachers name, school name and link to the video on YouTube (2 points)
  • Citations in correct APA format (2 points)
  • A reference page (1 points)
  • Note: The sections listed above do not count toward the total 750-1,000 word limit

Content (35 Total Possible Points)

  • The written statement must be between 750 and 1,000 words (5 points)
  • The written statement describes the societal problem facing a specific community (5 points)
  • The written statement synthesizes at least three recent peer-reviewed journal articles addressing the societal problem described (25 points)
Previous winners and topics

2017 TOPSS Competition for High School Psychology Students

The APA Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS) is pleased to announce the winners for the 2017 APA TOPSS Competition for High School Psychology Students. Each winner will receive a $250 award.

  • Poorvi Dua of Xavier College Preparatory (Phoenix, Arizona)
  • Sophia Song of Seoul International School (Seoul, South Korea)
  • Wendi Ji of Shen Zhen College of International Education (Guangdong, China)
  • Grace Rhine of Penn Manor High School (Millersville, Pennsylvania)

The 2017 competition question asked students to submit an essay on the topic “An Aging World”.

Students were to write an essay of no more than 3,000 words that addressed the topic of aging and provide information concerning physical, psychological and social factors that influence the aging process. In addition, each essay was to use existing psychological research to examine how individuals and society could promote healthy aging. 

2016 TOPSS Competition for High School Psychology Students

  • Shi Jia Liu of Guangdong Country Garden School (Guangdong, China)
  • Anan Quan of Cape Coral High School (Cape Coral, Florida)
  • Jane Sensibaugh of Solon High School (Solon, Ohio)
  • Alan Zheng of Pioneer High School (Ann Arbor, Michigan)

The 2016 competition question asked students to submit an essay on racial bias, including the cognitive and social factors that contribute to the problem. Students were to address how implicit bias has informed our understanding of racial biases. In addition, each essay was required to use existing psychological research to examine how this problem specifically impacts the criminal justice system.

2015 TOPSS Competition for High School Psychology Students

  • Elma Adusei of Fredericksburg Academy (Fredericksburg, Virgina)

  • Alison J. Gold of Ladue Horton Watkins High School (St. Louis, Montana)

  • Lavinia Wing Lam Tse of Oundle School (Oundle, Peterborough, U.K.)

  • Lucy R. Purnell of Oundle School (Oundle, Peterborough, U.K.)

The 2015 competition question asked students to submit an essay exploring the neurological, cognitive and social implications of substance abuse. Students were asked to write about one type of substance use (e.g., tobacco, alcohol, cannabinoids, opioids, stimulants or hallucinogens) and a scientifically tested measure for prevention or intervention.

2014 TOPSS Competition for High School Psychology Students

  • Miriam Hauptman of Ladue Horton Watkins High School (St. Louis, Missouri)

  • Rebecca Jordan of Rye High School (Rye, New York)

  • Emory Nager of North Salem High School (North Salem, New York)

  • Milena Pirman of Kimberly High School (Appleton, Wisconsin)

The 2014 competition question asked students to submit an essay exploring the current prevalence, impact and/or implications of obesity. Along with describing the biopsychosocial factors that contribute to obesity, students were asked to offer a solution using psychological science.

2013 TOPSS Competition for High School Psychology Students

  • Sarah Giuffrida of Penn Manor High School (Lancaster, Pennsylvania)

  • Katie Shen of Solon High School (Solon, Ohio)

  • Sarah Whyler of Penn Manor High School (Lancaster, Pennsylvania)

  • Aliya Zaidi of Solon High School (Solon, Ohio)

The 2013 competition question asked students to write a short composition exploring the role psychological science can play in both explaining and informing solutions for social injustices and inequities. Students were also asked to design an original visual poster on the theme “Psychology Addressing Injustice” to accompany their written component.

2012 TOPSS Essay Competition

  • Rakesh Goli of The Altamont School (Birmingham, Alabama)

  • Ning Liu of Parkview High School (Lilburn, Georgia)

  • Rebecca Shaw of Horace Mann School (New York)

  • Rachael Spillane of Topsail High School (Hampstead, North Carolina)

The 2012 essay question asked students to describe specific psychological concepts as they relate to the various ways a person might react to a natural disaster. Students were asked to relate these specific psychological concepts to a person’s potential behavior and mental processes following the disaster.

2011 TOPSS Poster Competition

  • Corie Schwabenland of Central West High School (Fresno, California)

  • Zackery Perkins of Oscar F. Smith High School (Chesapeake, Virgina)

  • Andrew Branstetter of Solon High School (Solon, Ohio)

  • Laura Wetzel of Stevens Point Area High School (Stevens Point, Wisconsin)

The 2011 poster question asked students to focus on the theme “Psychology is a Science.” Students were asked to select one or more theme(s) or topic(s) within psychology that demonstrate(s) that psychology is a science. Students were asked to design an original visual poster that included the phrase “Psychology is a Science.”

2010 TOPSS Essay Competition

  • Sabina Babar of Colonia High School (Colonia, New Jersey)

  • Rachael J. Erickson of Sutton Memorial High School (Sutton, Massachusetts)

  • Allison Gutworth of Colonia High School (Colonia, New Jersey) 

  • Alexis Suskey of Grandville High School (Wyoming, Michigan)

The 2010 essay question asked students to focus on the effects human behavior has had on the current environmental crisis. Students were asked to create and describe a community service project that could be carried out in their local communities to encourage environmentally-friendly behavior, explaining how human behavior affects a specific environmental issue.

2009 TOPSS Essay Competition

  • Arzina Alam (Avenel, New Jersey)

  • Sharon Hecker (Sparta, Michigan)

  • Meghan Christine Zeitter (Grand Rapids, Michigan)

Sara Berlin of Miami, Fla., received an honorable mention award for her essay.

The 2009 essay question asked students to focus on techniques advertisers use to encourage consumers to purchase their products. Students were asked to create an advertising campaign on behalf of a fictitious company that sells new athlete shoes, explaining how principles of compliance and techniques of persuasion were used.

2008 TOPSS Scholars Competition

  • Mira Vale from Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School (Sudbury, Massachusetts)

  • Rebecca Joy from Arlington Catholic High School (Arlington, Massachusetts) 

  • Rohit Mehta from Colonia High School (Colonia, New Jersey)

The essay question posed for this year's competition focused on the portrayal of psychological disorders in movies. The students were asked to choose a psychological disorder and use the DSM-IV-TR to summarize the salient characteristics of the disorder. The psychological disorders were based on three movies "As Good As It Gets" (1997) for obsessive compulsive disorder; "A Beautiful Mind" (2001) for schizophrenia;  and "The Mosquito Coast" (1986) for bipolar disorder.