The Psychonomic Society was founded by a group of experimental psychologists during a meeting in Chicago, Illinois, in December 1959. The main goal was to create a society that would support open communication about psychological science with minimal structure. An interesting article about the Society's inception and history can be found in Dewsbury, D. A., & Bolles, R. C. (1995). The founding of the Psychonomic Society. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 2, 216-233.
For over five decades, the Psychonomic Society has played a critical role in promoting scientific research in psychology and allied sciences. Understanding its beginnings are key to understanding the Society's current position and how it plans to build on its tradition and transform certain aspects of its work to meet the evolving needs of its members and better serve the field over the next ten years.
In 1959, a small group of experimental psychologists recognized the need for a distinct society that would support open and accessible communications about new research on experimental and cognitive psychology. They took the radical step of breaking away from their dominant association of the day, the American Psychological Association, to create a smaller, more select and less formal society with a minimal structure and sole focus on experimental work rather than practice-related research. Their early success in publishing a journal to report on the latest experimental research paved the way for the Psychonomic Society ("Society" or "PS") to ultimately self-publish six distinct journals and build a membership of over 2,000 researchers. The Society's Annual Meeting has become a highly regarded scientific meeting that is the first place where many graduate psychology students learn about the field of experimental and cognitive psychology and hear leaders in that field present and discuss their latest research.
However, psychology is a science that is constantly evolving, and the past ten years have seen dramatic changes and an expansion of the field, particularly at its juncture with neuroscience. New and more specialized societies have been created to focus on particular types of science, much as the Psychonomic Society was created in 1959. There has also been a dramatic shift for the Society as it embraced the modern publishing process, divested itself of its own publishing house, and contracted with Springer Publishing to produce its six journals. There was also a transition of Society management from internal staff to an external management firm. In addition, the publishing contract brought in a new and substantial revenue stream that has put the Psychonomic Society in a position to consider various new programs.
The Society's Governing Board (GB) realized that new income not only gave it an incredible opportunity but also a grave responsibility to decide which exciting opportunities to take on. They wanted to consider which of these efforts would allow the Society to move forward in the best way. They also saw the need to invest financially not only in the future stability of the Society but also in its meeting, journals and its members and their research - the reason it exists in the first place.
To help them make the right decisions about future directions, the Governing Board first undertook an assessment of where the Society stood at present and what its goals should be for the future. They wanted to make sure the Psychonomic Society retains the qualities that is members value and yet is nimble enough to change with the times. A strategic planning process was used to chart a course for the Society for the next decade. That process was grounded first in the Society's mission and membership and an expression of who we work for and with those elements are articulated below, followed by an overview of the planning process, the issues it raised, and the strategic priorities, goals and strategies that the Society will focus on over the next ten years. See our strategic plan here.