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Eye on Psi Chi: Winter 2013

What Does Honor Mean? Moving From the U.S. to an International Audience Presents Challenges and Reinforces Our Mission
Jason Young, PhD, Psi Chi President Hunter College, CUNY

Psi Chi was founded to recognize and celebrate the high achievements of psychology students. In the U.S., such recognition has come to be expected and incorporated into everything from our job resumes to our Facebook postings. But as Psi Chi embraces its transformation into an international organization, the notion of "honor society” is heading to nations and cultures where the idea of such recognition for academic work may be a new concept. In this spirit, both Psi Chi as an organization and its individual members have the opportunity to reflect on what being a member of an honor society signifies, at personal, professional, and international levels.

At the personal level, we consider recognition of superb achievements both a reward in its own right and a signifier that there are people who are making noteworthy progress who may serve as role models to others. One of the hallmarks of creating a learning atmosphere is the emphasis on sharing knowledge— not just what is learned, but how we learn. Indeed, it was the psychologist Wilbert McKeachie (see Bembenutty, 2008) who pointed out the importance of the "how” in education. It is wise for all Psi Chi members to keep in mind that we should show gratitude toward those who helped us get where we are and also act on the responsibility of working to help others achieve greater things as well. When you assist not only fellow students tackling their research projects but also those who are just learning how to conduct research, you serve as a role model by helping others appreciate the significance of research and responsible conduct in the laboratory, clinic, and other places where your psychological craft is practiced.

At the professional level, eligibility to join an honor society indicates a level of reliability in several key characteristics, many of which may sound familiar if you have read through letters of recommendation. Among these qualities are intellect, maturity, conscientiousness, diligence, creativity, punctuality, honesty, resourcefulness, and cooperativeness. These serve as heuristic signals to prospective employers and graduate school faculty of your ability and potential compatibility with future research and professional positions. As the U.S. shows alarm at the poor performance of so many students in the STEM disciplines (i.e., Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), recognition of your ability in an advanced research field is proving to be a major asset as you move toward your professional life. Equally important is that your alliance with an honor society can serve to highlight your commitment to developing a code of professional ethics.

Finally, at the international level, the representation of an honor society such as Psi Chi in other countries reflects a critical growth opportunity for students, for researchers, and for the discipline. While events such as the International Congress of Psychology have provided an international stage for researchers for several years, the expansion of Psi Chi promises to offer current and future members a range of additional opportunities. With the development of new Psi Chi grant opportunities in the works, as well as initiatives to help connect members via the Internet so they can work with faculty and students across international boundaries, a direct conduit will enable members to address issues that are universal in scope. In addition, as chapters in additional countries become active, we hope chapters in the U.S. will gain exposure to more cross-cultural experiences, particularly through meeting more members from different cultural backgrounds at conferences and online.

This effort to move to the international arena can only enhance the value of the honor associated with being a member of Psi Chi. We invite you to share your interests and ideas with the Psi Chi Central Office (at and to provide any suggestions that will help further our progress as we advance Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology.

Bembenutty, H. (2008). The teacher of teachers talks about learning to learn: An interview with Wilbert (Bill) J. McKeachie. Teaching of Psychology, 35, 363-372.

Jason Young, PhD, is associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY), and is also on the graduate faculty of the School Psychology program at the CUNY Graduate Center. Dr. Young teaches courses in Research Methods, Attitudes and Persuasion, Social Cognition, and Evolutionary Psychology, as well as graduate-level courses in applications of social psychology to social issues. His research focuses on the influence of emotions on various judgment and decision-making processes. Since 1995, he has been faculty advisor to a very active chapter of Psi Chi that has offered major programs to Hunter’s psychology community, including the Annual Hunter Psychology Convention, at which students from Psi Chi chapters from the New York metro area and beyond attend to network and present research. He served as Psi Chi’s Eastern Region Vice-President from 2007–2011.

Copyright 2013 (Volume 17, Issue 2) 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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