An Opinion on Expressing Opinions to Influence Social Policy

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First, I would like to commend C. Hosticka, M. Hibbard, and N. Sundberg ("Improving psychologists' contributions to the policymaking process," in Professional Psychology: Research & Practice. Vol 14(3), June, 1983, pp. 374-385) on their presentation of the role of the psychologist as scientist to the policy-making process. They treated the subject in a thorough and professional manner. I do, however, have a minor clarification that I believe is important to consider when psychologists attempt to contribute to the formation of public policy. This clarification has to do with the tertiary nature of the professional psychologist--that is, the psychologist as scientist, as practitioner, and as human being. Hosticka et al. do an admirable job of delineating the many problems that confront the psychologist who attempts to influence public policy as a scientist/researcher. However, they neglect to mention the role of the psychologist as a practitioner/clinician or as a human being/citizen. Granted, these roles are probably less complex and perhaps require less attention. Nonetheless, they do warrant at least a cursory review. As scientists, psychologists conduct research in order to accumulate scientific evidence that can be given to policymakers in an effort to influence policy decisions. As practitioners, psychologists have taken a clinical pledge to help others through their potential emotional reactions to public policy. Finally, as human beings, psychologists are free to express opinions and spew out personal beliefs with respect to public policy. However, one note of caution is recommended, that is, we ought not confuse the three roles. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-133
Number of pages2
JournalProfessional Psychology: Research and Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1984


  • psychologist opinions
  • role boundaries
  • social influences
  • social policy making


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