For the public to understand the value of psychology, it is critical for us to disseminate our research findings. In today’s digital age, our options for communicating these findings are numerous and varied. However, dissemination involves more than sending out reports on our findings to websites and on social media, even though the messages can be both informative and engaging. As Citizen Psychologists—those who, like me, believe that psychology is every day in every way—we appreciate the importance of the human factor in disseminating psychological science, practice and education, all in the context of promoting the public interest.
To spread our findings most effectively, we must also participate in various networks that may seem tangential but are nevertheless relevant to psychology. We must discuss our work with our professional connections that we have maintained over time—and deliberately develop new alliances. Those on college and university campuses, for example, may want to organize coffee chats to become acquainted with peers in related disciplines. As a next step, they might contact colleagues at other campuses, urging them to do the same. If senior scientists do not have the time, they can encourage their research assistants and graduate students to make those connections.
By reaching out to others in this way, we can learn about relevant research labs and other groups that may share our interests and collaborate with us. We also can learn about ways to participate on boards or committees in critical research or other organizations that may have connections to the campus. Such efforts may even generate more research funds for the senior scientists, as well as the junior faculty, staff and students, both undergraduate and graduate.
Psychologists with expertise in education may want to develop relationships with members of school boards and the school district. They could, for example, suggest data collection that could inform the decisions of the school board members. Such working relationships could contribute to the development of a school district, as well as advance the careers of junior faculty and graduate students. These partnerships could even lead to presentations by psychologists at the national meetings of education groups—and encourage more educators to include psychological science in their decision-making process.
Those of us who build such relationships are examples of Citizen Psychologists on the move.
Through her Citizen Psychologist initiative, Dr. Jessica Henderson Daniel seeks to recognize psychologists who serve as leaders in their communities to improve the lives of all. Learn more at www.apa.org/about/governance/citizen-psychologist/default.aspx.
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