Monday, January 23, 2012

SPSP Conference: Where social and personality psychologists come to gather

Sunny San Diego
In just a few days Anna, Juli, Michael and I, as well as thousands of other social and personality psychologists, will descend on San Diego, California for the festivities known as the annual conference for the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP). For two full days we will be fully steeped in the world of social and personality psychology. What exactly does fully steeped mean? Well, from 8:15am until 7:45pm there will be approximately 11 symposia per hour (each symposium is composed of four 15 minute talks on a particular topic) for a total of 9 hours across the two days, in addition to special speeches scattered throughout the days and seven poster sessions with several hundred posters on display at each session (picture your elementary school science fair, but all grown up and on steroids). If that's not enough, there are meetings with mentors, evening networking sessions, and on the day before the conference begins, there is a full day of "preconferences" on particular topics in the field. For example, I know people attending preconferences on topics as varied as close relationships, emotion, humor, and the self and identity.

This annual conference is a bit of a whirlwind but its a chance to hear about recent research in the field, catch up with old friends, network with new ones, and share your own research findings. Although this conference focuses on social and personality psychology, the talks are still on a wide variety of topics. For example, here are a few random symposia titles selected from the schedule:
  • "Moral Ironies"
  • "Every Rose has its Thorns: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Relationships"
  • "Menstrual Cycle Effects on Women's Mate Preferences? Critical Perspectives"
  •  "'A Christian Nation' Facing the 21st Century: How Religion Shapes Modern America, and its Role in a Changing Society"
  • "The Consequences of Being Low on the Totem Pole: Deprivation, Status, and Resource Choices"
  • "Latino Culture and the Shaping of Social and Personality Processes"
  • "Money as a Motivator: From Brain to Behavior"
 Although I haven't counted each and every talk, some simple multiplication leads me to conclude that are probably more than 500 individual talks being given during the conference. This means that many talks are going at once and you can't possibly see all of them (unless of course you were Hermione Granger and had a time-turner). Most people sit down with the conference schedule ahead of time and map out their own personal schedule for the weekend, picking which talks and posters are must-attends in each session. And when all of your favorite talks are at the same time? Well you just hope you wore comfortable shoes so you can run from one end of the conference hotel to the other.

A glance at an SPSP Poster Session

So why am I telling you all of this, besides to invoke a bit of sympathy for how tired we will all be by Sunday morning? To let you know that its not going to be a normal week here at Psych Your Mind. We've decided to forgo our usual posts this week in order to do a semi "live-blogging" from the SPSP conference. We are not entirely sure what this will look like, but likely it will end up being each of us posting one or two brief write-ups summarizing the talks we heard that day, highlighting interesting or favorite findings, or merely complaining about the sheer enormity of the entire event (okay, less likely to be that last one, I'll save that for the personal blog). We may also be tweeting one-liners if we hear an interesting tidbit or attend a particularly cutting-edge talk that we just can't wait to tell the world about. So keep checking back with us here at PYM all weekend long (starting Thursday)!

If you'd like to find out more about the conference, you can go to the website here or check out their schedule here.

Any questions about the SPSP Conference? Any particular talks or topics you want us to blog about? Perhaps some words of comfort?


  1. So exciting, I'd love to hear anything about resiliency work or emotion regulation and physiology associated with it. How exciting to do some live blogging of this event! Now I'm wishing I was going with my post-doc ^_^

    1. Perhaps something like this: "Downstream Benefits of Emotion Regulation: New Insights on Psychological, Neural, and Hormonal Mechanisms"? There really is a symposium for everything! :)

      You can go here if you want to read the abstracts for the talks and find out who is doing the research.