Psi Chi is the International Honor Society for Psychology. This is easy enough to read and remember. But what isn’t always so easy is pronouncing Psi Chi out loud for the first time! At the Psi Chi Central Office, we’ve witnessed this play out in many ways on the phone and in person. For example:
Some people tackle the issue head on by asking, “Am I saying that right?” Good for them! Others sometimes accidentally say “Psy Chee” or “P-si Chi.” And other times, people avoid mentioning the word Psi Chi throughout an entire lengthy conversation—coincidence? We think not! ;)
Anyway, mispronouncing Psi Chi happens all the time, and it’s nothing to feel embarrassed about. The word isn't exactly composed of the most commonly used syllables. And it is doubtful that this little mistake will disappear any time soon (unless Psi Chi gets added to a lesson in Hooked on Phonics, perhaps).
So for the record, here’s how you say Psi Chi!
So, What Does Psi Chi Mean?
Deconstructing the name of our Professional Organization is revealing. First there’s the Psi part, which represents the Greek letter Ψ and Greek word psyche. Psyche means mind, particularly enrichment of the mind or scholarship.
Chi is for the Greek letter Χ, which represent the word cheires. This means hands, as in fellowship and cooperation.
Then comes International, the newest part of Psi Chi’s name. For the majority of the organization’s history, Psi Chi was a “national honor society.” This change to an international honor society was a big one, even requiring an amendment to the constitution. Thanks to these efforts, Psi Chi now has chapters located all around the world.
(Check your own local chapter banners and materials. Do they have the proper International name printed on them? You can order new ones in the Psi Chi Store.)
Next, there is the word Honor, which speaks to our members’ outstanding academic performance. The requirements to join Psi Chi are stringent; having met them is proof of scholastic achievement. Service is not a requirement of membership, but it is an meaningful component of many chapters’ activities. Those who serve their communities add another dimension to the “honor” part of the name.
Finally, there is in Psychology. Psychology is a broad field, and the day-to-day work of a counselor differs substantially from the day-to-day work of a neuropsychologist. However, they do have one important commonality—a desire to help. Our members represent a population that strives to improve the human condition.
As it turns out, a name can convey a substantial amount of information! So when you say Psi Chi, be sure to say it with pride for all the positive things that our society and your membership stands for. Psi Chi offers $400,000+ in annual awards and grants, four great publications (including your favorite blog here!), a Career Center, and many other benefits.
Conduct an Experiment
The author of this post admits to mispronouncing Psi Chi once, a long, long time ago. So let’s all be honest! Have you ever mispronounced Psi Chi? If not, then maybe you’d like to share any other psychology words that have you mispronounced instead (login required to comment).