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Psychological Science in the Workplace and Life: Interview With Regan A. R. Gurung, PhD

Posted By Bradley Cannon, Psi Chi Writer/Journal Managing Editor, Friday, January 18, 2019


The Editorial Team for Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research is proud to announce a brand new call for abstracts for a special issue: “Psychological Science in the Workplace and Life.” This special issue was proposed by Dr. Regan A. R. Gurung (Psi Chi President-Elect, 2018–19). Dr. Gurung is an expert in many areas including the scholarship of teaching and learning, prejudice and impression formation, and health—as well as the application of psychological sciences into the real world.

Abstracts for the special issue are due October 1, 2019, and you are encouraged to view the full details HERE. This issue will be published in Summer 2020 as a part of Dr. Gurung’s 2019–20 Psi Chi Presidential Theme, “Psychological Science for All.” We are all very excited to explore the many applications of psychology throughout the upcoming year. To introduce the special issue and other future plans, Dr. Gurung kindly agreed to answer the following questions below.

What is the special issue about?

This issue is designed to highlight how psychology is applied in the real world. Many of our field’s most popular areas—clinical, school, Industrial/Organizational, Forensic—are heavily real-world focused. Whether in the realms of health, business, education, or the legal system, psychological science is used for improvement. This special issue is designed to highlight research in these diverse real-world settings. Are you doing research on teaching and learning, customer satisfaction, college mental health, human resource management, or any other realm of day to day life? We want to see it for this special issue.

What inspired you to suggest the topic for this special issue?

One of the most common questions I get as a faculty advisor is “Why should I major in psychology?” Too often students and the general public miss the fact that psychology is everywhere. I realized that part of the problem is that, when psychological science is applied, these applications are often not made explicit. In fact, psychological science is used in business (sales, HR), education, and in many areas of healthcare to name just a few areas.

Whereas only a small portion of psychology students go on to graduate school, all our students aim to enter the workforce. By highlighting the application of psychology, we better prepare our students for the workforce. Even when I teach Research Methods, I find that stressing the application of psychology makes students more willing to tackle the challenges of that course. I began changing my focus in the classroom to focus on stressing applications, and realized that even my research, especially work on teaching and learning, was very applied. This realization fueled a Ted Talk highlighting the application of psychology in life, and more recently led to my editing an Encyclopedia of Psychology Research in the Real World. These diverse factors inspired me to suggest the topic for this special issue.

The special issue will be in direct support of your 2019–20 Psi Chi Presidential Theme, “Psychological Science for All.” It’s still early in the year, but do you have any ideas for other programs, content, etc. that you would like to see as a result of this theme?

My goal is get psychological science out to people in every realm of life. You do not need to have gone to college or graduate school, or be working in psychology to benefit from psychological research. Psychology permeates every aspect of our lives but as a field we have successfully impressed this fact on the lay public. I am planning a series of webinars, social media campaigns with viral-worthy short videos, info graphics, and coordinated regional programming to highlight the benefits of psychology for daily life. I will focus on some key areas such as learning, coping, relationships, and productivity to focus the utility of psychological science (e.g., “Psych hacks for learning; Psych hacks for productivity).

You are a coauthor/faculty mentor on two separate student manuscripts currently undergoing the peer-review process for potential publication in Psi Chi Journal. What has your experience been like so far?

I can think of few better learning experiences for students than preparing their research for publication in the Psi Chi journal. Not only does each submission get a thorough APA style edit, the student is provided with precise guidance on how to write better. The reviewers are cognizant of student authorship and are constructive in their critiques, and the editors take pains to make the submission experience a growth experience. This involves detailed feedback and measured tone. My students and I have been impressed with both the speed and quality of reviews, and the help and support received through the entire process.

Why should a researcher want to be published in this special issue, or for that matter, in any issue of Psi Chi Journal?

This issue is especially geared toward any psychological scientist who is interested in explicitly applying psychology to real-world issues. Many colleagues work in applied settings and many more take pains to ensure their research can change how we live our lives. This special issue will highlight such efforts. This issue may be especially attractive to student researchers who enjoy seeing the applicability of psychology to everyday life.

The Psi Chi Journal is a flagship for our honor society and can serve as an inspiration to members at every level of their career but especially in the early years. Showcasing exemplary member research to inspire and motivate additional work, the journal should be on every members’ reading list. What better reasons to strive to be published in it?

Psi Chi’s mission statement is “Recognizing and promoting excellence in the science and application of psychology.” Why is the word application an important part of this statement?

Without applying knowledge, we fail to capitalize on the fruits of years of theoretical advances and a rich body of work that can change the very quality of our lives. The inclusion of this word is a stark reminder that, although we honor excellence, we go beyond just adulating robust theory, designs, and execution of research to ensure that the valuable outcomes serve to advance human functioning, happiness, productivity, and health. This special issue is designed to catalyze the application of psychology.

Do you have suggestions to help psychologists ensure that their research goes beyond academic publications and is ultimately applied in the real-world settings?

Publishing in a peer-reviewed journal has been a key goal for psychologists and is a worthy and established benchmark for science. It should not be the only venue to share research. With the increased usage of social media, podcasts, and blogs, psychologists have different venues to share their published work. We need to better leverage applications such as Twitter and podcasts to share psychology. Although Facebook is slowly becoming passé, it is still an easy way to share psychological research in an easy to digest and access format. I personally work to also publish in newspapers, outward facing outlets such as Psychology Today, and even appear on national public radio. For ideas on where and how to get out science, some of my outreach efforts can be seen HERE.

Anything else that you’d like to add?

This special issue provides an invitation to think about how you apply psychology and perhaps catalyze new research programs or chapter activities aimed to directly applying and measuring the utility of applying psychological science.

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