“Society Very Definitely Needs Our Aid”: Reflecting on SPSSI in History


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Alexandra Rutherford, Department of Psychology, York University, 4700 Keele St., Toronto, ON M3J 1P3, Canada [e-mail: alexr@yorku.ca].


The year 2011 marks the 75th anniversary of theSociety for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI). One of the primary reasonsSPSSIwas established was the desire, on the part of its founders, to use scientific research for social action and to bring the insights of social science into national-level debates about social issues. This anniversary affords us the opportunity to examine when, where, why, and howSPSSIhas been more and less successful in its efforts to impact society. Historical analyses focusing on the long-standing tension between scientific objectivity and political advocacy are used as a lens through which to examineSPSSI's legacy and to provide a more informed basis for future action.