What Is the American Psychological Association?

American Psychological Association
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Question: What Is the American Psychological Association?


The American Psychological Association (APA) is the largest professional and scientific organization of psychologists in the United States. The APA is based in Washington, DC and has more than 130,000 members. Membership in the APA is not limited to scientists or clinicians; it also includes educators and psychology students.

Functions of the American Psychological Association

From the APA's official mission statement:

"The mission of the APA is to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives."

According to the official website of the American Psychological Association, the "APA seeks to advance psychology as a science, a profession, and as a means of promoting health, education, and human welfare."

Some of the ways in which they do this is by encouraging the growth of psychology, promoting psychology research, establishing professional standards for psychologists, and increasing the distribution of psychological knowledge and research.

The APA also regulates the use of the word "psychologist" as a professional title. In order to be called a psychologist by the APA's definition, the individual must "...have a doctoral degree in psychology from an organized, sequential program in a regionally accredited university or professional school."

The American Psychological Association also established APA Style, a set of rules designed to aid in the communication of information in the social sciences. APA style is used in psychology as well as other sciences including sociology and education. All of these writing rules can be found in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, which details how to organize professional journal articles, how to cite sources and how to list references.

History of the American Psychological Association

The American Psychological Association was established in July 1892 at Clark University. During its first year, the APA had 31 members and G. Stanley Hall served as the organization's first president. Today, the APA is composed of 54 distinct divisions that each focus on a sub-discipline or topic within psychology, such as educational psychology (Division 15) and behavior analysis (Division 25).

Some of the past presidents of the American Psychological Association include some of psychology's most famous thinkers, including:

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