Melissa Ferguson and I are the program co-chairs for the upcoming SPSP conference in New Orleans, January 17-19. That means we are in charge of the scientific content of the program. (Cindy Pickett is the convention chair, meaning she’s in charge of pretty much everything else, which I have discovered is a heck of a lot more than 99% of the world knows. If you see Cindy at the conference, please buy her a drink.) The conference is going to be awesome. You should go.
One issue that I’m particularly attuned to is the representation of personality psychology on the program. During my work as program co-chair, I heard from some people who are from a more centrally personality-psych background that they’re worried that the conference is tilted too heavily toward social psych, and therefore there won’t be enough interesting stuff to go to.
I am writing here to dispel that notion. If you are a personality psychologist and you’re wavering about going, trust me: there’ll be lots of exciting stuff for you.
SPSP has a long-standing commitment to ensuring that both of its parent disciplines are well represented at the conference. That means, first of all, that the 2 program co-chairs are picked to make sure there is broad representation at the top. So among my predecessors are folks like Veronica Benet-Martinez, Sam Gosling, Will Fleeson, etc… — people who have both the expertise and motivation to make sure that outstanding personality submissions make it onto the program. Speaking for myself, I don’t see the personality/social distinction as mapping easily onto my work (it’s both!), but hopefully most people who are from a more canonical personality point of view will see me as intellectually connected to that.
One way that directly translates into program content is through selection of reviewers. Melissa and I made sure that both the symposium and poster review panels had plenty of personality psychologists, so all personality-related submissions get a fair shake. Not every good submission made it onto the program — there was just too much good stuff (and that’s true across all topic areas). But I personally assigned every symposium submission to its reviewers, and I promise you that anything that looked personality-ish got read by someone with relevant expertise.
On top of all that, SPSP’s 2013 president is David Funder. David got to handpick speakers for a Presidential Symposium, and he’ll also give a presidential address. Those sessions will appeal to everybody at SPSP, but I think personality psychologists will feel particularly happy.
For people interested in personality psychology content, here are some highlights:
Presidential Symposium, Thu 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm. Title: “The First ‘P’ in SPSP.” David will give the opening remarks, followed by talks by Colin DeYoung on personality and neuroscience, Sarah Hampson on lifespan personality development, and Bob Krueger on how personality psychology is shaping the DSM-5. (Hardcore social folks, these are 3 dynamite researchers. I bet you’ll like this one too!)
Presidential Address, Fri 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm. David Funder gets the spotlight this time, in a talk titled “Taking the Power of the Situation Seriously.”
Award lectures, Fri 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm. The recipients of SPSP’s 3 major awards will speak at this session. Dan McAdams is the winner of the Jack Block award for personality. Dan Wegner is the winner of the Campbell award in social psych (Thalia Wheatley will be speaking on his behalf). And Jamie Pennebaker is the winner of the inaugural Distinguished Scholar Award.
Symposium Room 217-219. In order to ensure that there is always something personality-oriented for people to go to, we picked 9 symposia that we thought would be especially appealing to personality psychologists and spread them out over every timeslot. So if you want personality, personality, and more personality, you can set up camp in room 217-219 and never leave.
All the other symposium rooms. Just because we highlighted personality stuff in one room doesn’t mean that’s the only place it appears on the schedule. “Personality versus social psychology” is a clearer distinction in people’s stereotypes than in reality. Spread across the schedule are presentations on gene-environment interactions, individual differences and health, subjective well-being, motivation and self-regulation, research methods and practices, and much more.
Posters, posters, posters. There is personality-related content in every poster session. Posters were grouped by keywords (self-nominated by the submitters), so an especially high concentration will be in Session E on Saturday morning.
As long as personality psychologists keep submitting their best stuff, the high-quality representation of personality at SPSP is going to remain the rule in years to come.