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Eye on Psi Chi: Spring1999

What is Your Psi-Q?
Harold Takooshian, PhD, Psi Chi President, Fordham University (NY)

How much do you know about Psi Chi? Here is a chance to test your "Psi-Q" by answering true or false to the 10 questions listed below. Take a moment to circle "T" or "F" now before you read the message that follows.

Psi Chi:

TF1. is the oldest U.S. honor society.
TF2. is the largest U.S. honor society.
TF3. is the only U.S. honor society for psychology.
TF4. is the largest U.S. psychology organization in membership.
TF5. has chapters in many nations around the world.
TF6. is an affiliate organization of the APA.
TF7. included Ivan Pavlov, Jean Piaget, and Wilhelm Stern as members.
TF8. was cofounded by a chairperson of Harvard's psychology department.
TF9. now has a chapter at virtually every four-year college in the U.S.
TF10. has an annual program at every regional U.S. psychology convention.

It is easy to love Psi Chi. Time and again, I have seen people (like myself) whose initial curiosity about Psi Chi becomes admiration as they come to know it. It is huge and prosperous, yet marvelously friendly and efficient, with an inspiring history that has involved some of this century's finest psychologists. The lives of countless thousands of people around the U.S. are better somehow because of their brush with Psi Chi--its conferences, awards, chapter activities, or other interactions that inspire or advance one's personal development.

So how much do you know about Psi Chi? The 10-item quiz above is a chance to test your knowledge, as our Society prepares for its 70th birthday gala in Boston this August 20-22. If you're unsure of some answers, you are not alone. In this quiz, the best answer for the odd-numbered items is false, and for the even-numbered items, true.

  1. Long before 1929, Phi Beta Kappa was first, formed on December 5, 1776, at the College of William and Mary. Psi Chi was conceived by two students at the University of Kansas in 1927 who wondered why there was no national student group for psychology, and then started one, born September 4, 1929, at the Ninth International Congress of Psychology at Yale University.
  2. In its number of chapters, Psi Chi has far more today than any other honor society--935, and growing apace. In individual members, the largest is Phi Kappa Phi, founded in 1897, with 772,000 members as of 1999, about twice the 344,000 life members of Psi Chi (ACHS, 1998).
  3. Psi Chi was the nation's only psychology honor society until 1981, when it helped to form Psi Beta. Psi Chi has always been limited to students at 4-year schools, while Psi Beta inducts psychology students only at 2-year institutions. Since 1981, Psi Beta has become a completely independent society and, along with Psi Chi, a full member of the Association of College Honor Societies.
  4. In membership, it is fair to say the American Psychological Association is the world's "second largest psychology organization," numbering some 85,000 members plus 40,000 student affiliates--not quite one-half of Psi Chi's 344,000 life members. As APA Executive Officer Raymond Fowler noted, "More psychologists have been through the doors of Psi Chi than any other psychology organization in the world" (in Wilson, 1991, p. 4).
  5. Psi Chi has long had international involvements and, in the 1980s, revised its Constitution a bit to allow for chapters in schools outside the U.S. A few of 50 invited Canadian schools sent representatives to the 1996 Psi Chi miniconvention at the University of Toronto, following a special invitation from Kay Wilson and me; some 15 of these 50 inquired about forming a chapter, but none did. Similarly, there are scores of English-speaking colleges around the world with access to U.S. dollars, eligible to form a chapter, but none has. So for now, Psi Chi has only U.S. chapters, despite the efforts of Past-President Slater Newman and me to reach out to other nations (Takooshian, 1994; Takooshian & Newman, 1998).
  6. In 1958, Psi Chi became the first affiliate organization of the American Psychological Association, after Psi Chi's central office moved into the APA building in 1955. Psi Chi was elected a member of the Association of College Honor Societies in 1965 and became an affiliate of the American Psychological Society in 1990.
  7. Pavlov, Piaget, and Stern were not members of Psi Chi, but all attended the 1929 International Congress where Psi Chi was born. In later years, some of our century's most notable psychologists, like B. F. Skinner and Carl Rogers, were active supporters of Psi Chi. To date, some 16 individuals have been inducted as Distinguished Members of Psi Chi, with four more to be inducted in August 1999. These are: George Albee, William Bevan, Jerome Bruner, Stuart W. Cook, J. P. Guilford, Ruth B. Guilford, Otto Klineberg, Frederick H. Lewis, Rollo May, Neal E. Miller, Edwin B. Newman, John A. Popplestone, Duane Rumbaugh, B. F. Skinner, M. Brewster Smith, Joseph Wolpe.
  8. Psi Chi was born in Sprague Hall of Yale University on September 4, 1929. After cofounding Psi Chi with fellow student "Bud" Lewis, Edwin B. Newman later served as the parliamentarian of the APA Council of Representatives and was, for many years, professor and chairperson of the psychology department of Harvard University. At Psi Chi's 40th anniversary in 1969, Newman noted that Psi Chi began just weeks before the fateful stock market crash on October 29 that signaled the Great Depression, then quipped, "I would not be so brash as to suggest a simple matter of cause and effect, but it does seem that certain caution should be exercised before founding another Psi Chi" (Newman, 1969, p. 3).
  9. The number of Psi Chi chapters has risen sharply over the years--from some 150 in 1960, to 720 in 1990, to 940 in 1999. This is over two-thirds of all 1,400 U.S. colleges and universities believed to be eligible for Psi Chi charters, inching asymptotically toward 100 percent.
  10. Psi Chi has an annual program at all six regional association meetings, plus New England, APS, and APA--making nine conferences per year.

Several fine histories of our Society have appeared, coinciding with its anniversaries of 40 years (Newman, 1969), 50 years (Hunt, 1979), or other times (Cousins, Tracy, & Giordano, 1992; Hogan & Sexton, 1993). Historian John D. Hogan agreed to serve as the Historian of Psi Chi for 1999, to prepare a 70th anniversary report adding to our Psi-Q, as he visits the Yale archives to find more. At this August meeting in Boston, we will not only share a birthday cake, but also hear more from John and others on the past, present, and likely future of our Society. Come join us.

ACHS (1998). ACHS handbook, 1998-2001. East Lansing MI: Association of College Honor Societies.

Cousins, R. H., Tracy, C., & Giordano, P. J. (1992). Psi Chi and Psi Beta: The two national honor societies in psychology. In A. E. Puente, J. R. Matthews, & C. L. Brewer (Eds.), Teaching psychology in America: A history (pp. 403-427). Washington DC: American Psychological Association.

Hogan, J. D., & Sexton, V. S. (1993). Psi Chi, the national honor society in psychology. In J. L. Pate and M. Wertheimer (Eds.), No small part: A history of regional organizations in American psychology (pp. 189-205). Washington DC: American Psychological Association.

Hunt, T. (1979). Five decades of Psi Chi, 1929-1979. Washington DC: Psi Chi.

Newman, E. B. (1969, Fall). Psychology and psychologists: Forty years later. Psi Chi Newsletter, pp. 1-6.

Takooshian, H. (1994, July). Psi Chi: Impact of a student honor society on a nation's psychology. Presentation at the annual meeting of the International Council of Psychologists, Lisbon.

Takooshian, H., & Newman, S. E. (1998). Recognizing excellent psychology students. International Journal of Psychology, 33(5), 367-369.

Wilson, K. (1991). A tribute to Ruth Cousins from the incoming Executive Officer. Psi Chi Newsletter, 17(5), 4-5.


Copyright 1999 (Volume 3, Issue 3) by Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology



Eye on Psi Chi is a magazine designed to keep members and alumni up-to-date with all the latest information about Psi Chi’s programs, awards, and chapter activities. It features informative articles about careers, graduate school admission, chapter ideas, personal development, the various fields of psychology, and important issues related to our discipline.

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