Chapter XII. Public Interest (Part 1)



WHEREAS, in many state legislature, bills have recently been introduced for the purpose of repealing or drastically modifying the existing criminal codes with respect to the termination of unwanted pregnancies; and WHEREAS, termination of unwanted pregnancies is clearly a mental health and child welfare issue, and a legitimate concern of APA; be it resolved, that termination of pregnancy be considered a civil right of the pregnant woman, to be handled as other medical and surgical procedures in consultation with her physician, and to be considered legal if performed by a licensed physician in a licensed medical facility.


Political dissent

The Council of Representatives of the American Psychological Association condemns the practice, wherever it may occur, of suppressing and neutralizing political dissenters by diagnosing them as mentally ill and committing them to mental hospitals. We consider it the responsibility of individual psychologists to oppose such practices within the organizations in which they are employed and, if they do not succeed in changing the practices, to dissociate themselves from personal complicity in them. We further instruct the APA's representatives to the Assembly of the International Union of Psychological Science to bring this issue before that body, urging it to condemn the practice in principle and initiate an international study of its prevalence. We further undertake to explore ways that APA may initiate as similar study in this country, to be coordinated with an international study if one is undertaken.


Corporal punishment

Corporal Punishment

Discrimination against homosexuals

Discrimination against Homosexuals

Psychological treatment in prison settings

Affirming that psychological treatment must be offered in a context of respect for the client's integrity, commitment to protecting his or her welfare, and acceptance of the limitations of psychological techniques: and

Recognizing that the closed institutional settings of many existing prisons do not provide a context for psychological treatment consistent with these principles;

The American Psychological Association

  1. Opposes the misuse of indeterminate sentences, a practice in which the claim of psychological treatment is often used as justification for depriving individuals of their personal liberty and civil rights without due process; and

  2. Supports the efforts of the APA's Board of Social and Ethical Responsibility to explore ways in which the APA can supplement and complement the work of other organizations concerned with this issue and with applications of psychological techniques in prisons more generally.

Equal Rights Amendment

Equal Rights Amendment


Child custody or placement

Child Custody or Placement


Child custody determination

Child Custody Determination



WHEREAS in many state legislatures, bills have recently been introduced for the purpose of repealing or drastically modifying the existing criminal codes with respect to the termination of unwanted pregnancies; and WHEREAS, termination of unwanted pregnancies is clearly a mental health and child welfare issue, and a legitimate concern of APA: be it resolved that termination of pregnancy be considered a civil right of the pregnant woman, to be handled as other medical and surgical procedures in consultation with her physician, and to be considered legal if performed by a licensed physician in a licensed medical facility;

And WHEREAS on 22 January 1973 the U.S. Supreme Court declared that we recognize the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intervention into matters fundamentally affecting a person such as the decision whether to bear or beget a child. That right necessarily includes the right of a woman to decide whether or not to terminate her pregnancy;

And WHEREAS, the right to conduct scientific research is fundamental to a free society and to the science and profession of psychology, and political interference in the awarding and releasing of research funds constitutes a serious encroachment on this right;

And WHEREAS, the right to conduct scientific research on abortion and reproductive health has been impeded by governmental restrictions and is further threatened by other disturbing attacks;

Therefore be it moved, that APA, within the context of its traditional concern for human welfare and freedom of scientific research, affirms the right of qualified researchers to conduct appropriate research in all areas of fertility regulation as long as standards for ethical, scientific and professional conduct are met.


Discrimination against teachers based on sexual orientation

Discrimination against Teachers Based on Sexual Orientation


Nuclear arms

The American Psychological Association (1) calls upon the President of the United States to propose to the U.S.S.R. that together both countries negotiate an immediate halt to the nuclear arms race. Specifically, we call upon each country to adopt an immediate mutual freeze on all further testing, production, and deployment of all nuclear warheads, missiles, and delivery systems; and (2) calls upon the Administration and Congress to transfer the funds saved to civilian use. Concurrently, they should work jointly with labor, management, and local communities to develop plans to convert the nuclear arms industry to civilian production, thus protecting jobs and strengthening our national economy. We hereby call upon elected officials at local, state, and federal levels publicly to endorse this resolution.

Guidelines on physical and social accessibility

The imposition of physical and social barriers makes it difficult or impossible for persons with disabilities to attend professional meetings. Such exclusion has at least two effects:

  1. It hinders the handicapped in the pursuit of their professional goals and denies them the benefits gained by association with their colleagues.

  2. It deprives society of the possible contributions of a significant number of its members, whose disabilities are extraneous to the positive contributions they might make.

Considered in this context, barriers to the participation of individuals with disabilities have the same effects as those derived from the barriers against contributions by such minority groups as blacks. The issue is a civil rights issue.

As citizens of this society we should be sensitive to such civil rights issues. As psychologists we should especially be aware both of the psychological damage done to the handicapped and nonhandicapped by these barriers and of the psychological and social benefits to be gained by both groups when access is free and when they are allowed to gain from each others contributions. APA, as an organization, has held as policy that it would convene only in cities that placed no barriers that were based on race, creed, color, or -place of origin-all criteria that are irrelevant to professional contribution. APA, as an organization, also holds that barriers based on sex are equally irrelevant. We are thus acting in accord with the worthy tradition of APA when we state our policy regarding the handicapped. We wish to bring the following goals to the attention of our members, and urge them to implement these goals as rapidly as possible:

Definition: By "APA" is meant the American Psychological Association, its boards, committees, and task forces, or any groups meeting under the auspices of the Association in their capacity as members of the Association.

  1. Cities: It will be the goal of APA to convene only in cities where the convention area is physically and socially accessible to the handicapped.

  2. Hotels and Related Accommodations: It will be the goal of APA to designate for convention, lodging, or official dining and social function use only those facilities that provide independent access for participants who happen to have a disability. Every hotel thus designated will have such access at or safely near the main entrance.

  3. Functions: It will be the goal of APA that all social or official functions, including dining functions for special interest groups, of the type described in the convention, program, or posted at conventions, or arranged through mailings of division members, or planned as unit functions shall be held in independently accessible places.

  4. Designation and Monitoring of Accessibility: It will be the goal of APA prior to the acceptance of a city or hotel or other facility to inspect and certify that facility as a convention accommodation. Inspection and monitoring will be by at least one handicapped person for each class of disabilities who will test accessibility of the accommodations.

  5. Feedback: Provision will be made to assess personal reactions of APA's members with disabilities to the physical and social accessibility of the facilities provided, and to obtain recommendations from them for further changes.

  6. Joint Participation: It will be the goal of APA to join with other professional organizations to set up a continuing representative council in order to promote agreed upon resolutions for accessibility and for discussion of common actions on these and related topics that may arise.

  7. Dissemination: All cooperating professional organizations noted in Section 6 that hold conventions will be advised of these resolutions and will be apprised of the results of APA inspection, monitoring, and feedback.

  8. Implementation: At present, we urge adoption of the foregoing as goals. We urge APA as rapidly as possible to convert these goals into active policy, and we request regular reporting to the Council of Representatives through the Board of Social and Ethical Responsibility for Psychology of steps taken that move in this direction. (Also included in Section VIII: Convention Affairs.)


Mentally impaired offenders

The American Psychological Association has reviewed proposals regarding offenders who are mentally impaired, as developed by the American Bar Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the National Commission on Insanity Defense (constituted by the National Mental Health Association), the National Conference of Commissioners of Uniform State Laws, the U.S. Congress, and state legislatures. APA is aware that in the wake of the Hinkley Presidential assassination-attempt verdict, strong public opinion and political considerations might unduly influence the positions of interested individuals and organizations. APA's strong interests in mentally impaired offenders include: (1) ensuring appropriate treatment; (2) assisting the judge and jury in making legal, scientific and moral determinations; and (3) providing empirical research to serve as a basis for informed public-policy decisions. APA has carefully evaluated the social, scientific and professional aspects of these matters and now takes positions which we believe best serve the public interest.

  1. APA notes that there are many proposals to change the insanity defense standard from its traditional and most prevalent cognitive and volitional tests as embodied by the American Law Institute/Model Penal Code version. The most frequently proposed change, supported by the ABA, the American Psychiatric Association, and U.S. Department of Justice, is to drop from the standard the volitional elements, i.e., whether the defendant was able to conform his or her conduct to the requirements of the law. Before supporting such a dramatic change in the nature of the insanity defense, APA believes it is necessary to examine the existing research literature and to conduct empirical studies, if needed, to provide information about whether the behavioral sciences are able to render informed opinions about behavior control and whether such opinions assist the jury in making their scientific, moral and legal decisions regarding the defendant's responsibility for alleged criminal acts.

  2. APA also notes that several states have adopted a "guilty but mentally ill" verdict to supplement the verdict of "not guilty by reason of insanity" and that many federal and state proposals would supplant and supplement the "not guilty by reason of insanity" verdict with a "guilty but mentally ill" verdict. Based on the research data which have been generated to date and the psycho-legal analyses which have thus far been advanced, APA takes the position that the verdict "guilty but mentally ill" should not be used to supplant or supplement the verdict "not guilty by reason of insanity". (See note).

  3. APA takes no position on whether the prosecutor or defendant should bear the burden of proof with respect to insanity, and what the burden should be, believing that those questions are legal questions, not psychological questions.

  4. APA is particularly interested in and concerned about dispositional issues related to defendants who are mentally impaired. In particular, APA believes that defendants who are dangerous to themselves or others should receive appropriate mental health treatment regardless of a finding of guilt or innocence. APA also is concerned both about premature release of dangerously mentally ill persons and about the public misconceptions regarding the release of nondangerous persons who have been adjudicated not guilty by reason of insanity. APA believes that additional empirical research is needed to provide a sound basis for the important policy decisions surrounding these dispositional issues.

Note: For example, Smith, G.A., and Hall, J.A., "Evaluating Michigan's Guilty but Mentally Ill Verdict: An Empirical Study", Journal of Law Reform, 1982, 16, 77-114. Slovenko, Ralph, "Commentaries on Psychiatry and Law: Guilty but Mentally Ill", Journal of Psychiatry and Law, 1982, 541-555, (see references within). American Psychiatric Association, "Statement on the Insanity Defense", Washington, D.C., Author, December 1982. National Commission on the Insanity Defense, Myths and Realities: A report, Sponsored by the National Mental Health Association, Arlington, VA: Author, March 1983. Additionally regarding both the "guilty but mental ill" verdict and dispositional issues, in Report to the ABA House of Delegates, February, 1983, by the ABA Standing Committee on Association Standards for Criminal Justice and the ABA Commission on the Mentally Disabled.



WHEREAS, recent studies show that existing medical controls and safety measures have not prevented chronic brain damage in boxers who have fought in recent years (after 1960), and

WHEREAS, neuropsychological testing is a highly sensitive and accurate means of detecting brain damage in fighters and others with head injuries, and

WHEREAS, many psychologists educate the public and especially young people through courses and textbooks, and

WHEREAS, resolutions calling for the elimination of both amateur and professional boxing have been passed recently by the American Medical Association and the British Medical Association,

BE IT RESOLVED that the American Psychological Association: Encourage the elimination of both amateur and professional boxing, a sport in which the objective is to inflict injury; communicate its opposition to boxing to appropriate regulating bodies; assist state psychological societies to work with their state legislatures to enact laws to eliminate laws to eliminate boxing in their jurisdictions; educate the American public, especially children and young adults, about the dangerous effects of boxing on the health of participants; specifically, psychologists who give courses and who write textbooks that take up relations between behavior and the nervous system are asked to consider including material on boxing an brain damage in their courses and textbooks; encourage neuropsychological evaluations of boxers be given on periodic (one or two year) basis; and encourage ring-side evaluations during bouts be done by individuals who are trained to perform neurocognitive investigations of acute mental status change.




Homeless mentally ill and functionally disabled

The existence of large numbers of homeless mentally ill and disabled persons in the United States is well documented and is a matter of great concern. The APA deplores the circumstances that have contributed to the large and growing numbers of homeless chronically mentally ill and functionally disabled persons who now roam the streets and back alleys of more and more communities in this country. The roots of neglect lie largely in the lack of preparation for community living and the dearth of appropriate supportive services that would facilitate more healthful and self-sufficient living conditions for this vulnerable population.

Use of polygraph testing

  1. The conduct of polygraph tests to select employees, to ascertain the honesty of employees, and to determine the truthfulness of aspects in criminal investigations, has increased significantly in recent years. APA has great reservations about the use of polygraph tests to detect deception.

  2. Despite many years of development, the use of psychophysiological indicators to infer deceptive behavior remains controversial, partly because the scientific evidence for the validity of these procedures is still unsatisfactory. Such evidence is particularly poor concerning polygraph use in employment screening and in dealing with victims of crime.

  3. Those giving polygraph tests often have limited training and expertise in psychology and in the interpretation of psycholophysiological measures.

  4. There is the possibility of great damage to innocent persons who must inevitably be labeled as deceptors in situations where the base rate of deception is low; an unacceptable number of false positives would occur even should the validity of the testing procedures be quite high.

  5. The use of polygraph tests in all applied settings should be based on adequate psychological training and sophistication. Their use by psychologists must be consistent with the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing and the Ethical Principles of Psychologists. They should be used only when such use is justified by the existence of sufficient date on their reliability and validity for the specific population, context, and purpose.


AIDS education

AIDS Education



Motor vehicle trauma

Motor Vehicle Trauma



WHEREAS the epidemic of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) currently threatens the physical health, mental health, and civil liberties of many persons in American society, and

WHEREAS in 1986 the American Psychological Association adopted a comprehensive resolution outlining APA policies surrounding AIDS, including APA's strong commitment to public education regarding AIDS and its prevention, as well as education to combat irrational public fears of AIDS and its transmission, and

WHEREAS empirical research has demonstrated that, in addition to imparting knowledge, educational programs designed to effect behavior change should address topics of decision making, risk assessment, attitude change, group norms, and other social and psychological processes, and

WHEREAS an important strategy for such education should be to provide children and adolescents of all cultural and socio-economic groups with information about AIDS that is gender-relevant, culturally sensitive, and appropriate to their level of intellectual, emotional and social development, and

WHEREAS the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Koop, has asserted that 'education concerning AIDS must start at the lowest grade possible as part of any health and hygiene program.

WHEREAS effective AIDS education for all age groups must address the behaviors through which AIDS can be transmitted, including but not limited to sexual behavior and sharing of intravenous needles and paraphernalia, and must do so as accurately and explicitly as possible while remaining appropriate to the age and developmental level of the members of targeted audiences, as well as their culture and language,

THEREFORE be it resolved that the American Psychological Association supports the Surgeon General's Report on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (1986),

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that APA urges that information about AIDS, its transmission and prevention be incorporated into elementary and secondary school curricula in conjunction with educational programs concerning sexuality, drug use, health, and family issues; and that such education be provided at the earliest grade possible, and in a manner appropriate to the child's level of intellectual, emotional, and social development. Priority should be given to culturally and linguistically appropriate prevention and education efforts targeted at Black, Hispanic, and Native American youth. The development of such curricula and programs should be accomplished with all deliberate speed by local boards of education, working closely with parents.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that APA recognizes the importance for AIDS prevention of providing clear and accurate information about sexual behaviors and sharing of needles and syringes, and that the APA deplores attempts by governmental or other institutions to restrict the effectiveness of community-based AIDS-prevention organizations, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the APA urges increased funding from governmental and private sources for basic and applied research and evaluation relevant to AIDS education and risk reduction, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the APA urges its members to provide their expertise to develop, implement, and evaluate AIDS education and risk-reduction programs.

Guidelines for avoiding sexism in psychological research

Guidelines for Avoiding Sexism in Psychological Research

This article is intended primarily for psychologists and for students of psychology who are developing skills in research design and methodology. It has become clear that much research of human and animal behavior incorporates a variety of forms of sexism. Such sexism introduces unwanted bias into the research.

The elimination of sex bias in psychological research is an important concern for the discipline of psychology. Researchers should attempt to achieve the highest methodological and ethical standards. To help to enhance the quality of psychological research the Board of Social and Ethical Responsibility for Psychology formed an ad hoc Committee on Nonsexist Research to develop materials to educate psychologists about ways to eliminate gender bias in research. That committee, composed of representatives from the Board of Scientific Affairs, The Board of Social and Ethical Responsibility and the Committee on Woman in Psychology, developed this paper.

Reviews of the literature document the pervasiveness of gender bias at all stages of research: question formulation, research design, data analysis and interpretation, and conclusion formulation. This document identifies some of the ways that gender bias can affect research at each of these stages. The examples given are from current literature. The discussion on the following pages is intended to illustrate general problems. It is not exhaustive. Additional sources of information are also listed.

Whenever values and assumptions – whether related to gender, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status – affect the research process, bias can operate. This article focuses on gender but the principles illustrated here apply to other forms of bias as well.

On the following pages of this paper, the reader will find examples of common avoidable problems as well as suggestions for eliminating such bias.

Violence against children by governments

Violence against Children by Governments


Special education and related services for children with conduct disorders

WHEREAS Congress has mandated that public schools provide special education services to all handicapped children, including those who are seriously emotionally disturbed;

WHEREAS Congress has defined serious emotional disturbance to include unsatisfactory relationships and inappropriate behavior that Interfere with educational performance over a long period of time and to a marked degree;

WHEREAS such characteristics are commonly associated with conduct disorders;

WHEREAS children with diagnoses manifested primarily by troubling behavior, such as conduct disorders and attention deficit disorders, constitute a large proportion of seriously emotionally disturbed children;

WHEREAS special education and related services, Including psychological services, are often critical to seriously emotionally disturbed children's educational progress;

WHEREAS schools are Important components In the child mental health system; and

WHEREAS psychologists provide services to seriously emotionally disturbed children both within and outside school settings;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the American Psychological Association opposes efforts by some states to exclude conduct disordered children from special education and related services;

BE IF FURTHER RESOLVED that the Association calls upon the Congress a the United States Department of Education to take action to ensure that states do not further deprive seriously emotionally disturbed children of special education and related services, including psychological services, that are Important to their educational achievement and psychological development."

Reproductive choice

WHEREAS in 1969, the APA identified freedom of reproductive choice as a mental health and child welfare issue;

WHEREAS the APA Council of Representatives decries the uninformed movement in many state legislatures to recriminalize abortion to limit access to the full range of reproductive options, especially to poor women who use publicly funded health services;

WHEREAS erroneous assertions about widespread severe negative psychological effects of abortion are being used to argue for laws that restrict reproductive freedom;

WHEREAS a review of the best scientific evidence by an APA panel of experts finds these assertions to be without fact;

WHEREAS uninformed public statements and a lack of understanding about psychological responses after unwanted pregnancy and abortion can themselves create emotional distress;

WHEREAS the weight of evidence is that legal abortion as a resolution to an unwanted pregnancy, particularly in the first trimester, does not create psychological hazards for most women undergoing the procedures; and

WHEREAS the preponderance of scientific data supports the conclusion that freedom of choice and a woman's control over her critical life decisions promotes psychological health;

THEREFORE BE IT MOVED that the Council of Representatives of the APA directs the Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer to undertake an immediate initiative to disseminate scientific information on reproductive freedom to policymakers, to the public, and to state psychological associations and APA divisions.


English-only initiatives

WHEREAS English is and will remain the primary language of the U.S., and members of our society recognized the importance of English to national life, individual accomplishment, and personal enrichment; and

WHEREAS many U.S. citizens and other individuals residing in the U.S. have native languages other than English, including many languages Indigenous to this country, and many members of our society have not had an equal opportunity to learn English; and

WHEREAS research supports the Importance of language in the transmission of culture, and the notion that healthy personal identity development is closely connected to the positive development of cultural identity and effectiveness in behavioral functioning; and

WHEREAS English only laws threaten to serve as a barrier to the delivery of psychological, health, and other human services by requiring such services to be provided solely in English; and

WHEREAS it has been shown that deleterious mental health effects including misdiagnosis and misassessment can occur when non native speakers of English are denied the right to obtain services in their primary language, and

WHEREAS the English only laws are anti immigrant and anti minority by appealing to fears of social disunity, and undermine a culturally pluralistic society; and

WHEREAS our fundamental values and national documents ensure tolerance and respect for social and cultural diversity and guarantee all persons equal protection under the law,

BE IT RESOLVED THAT The American Psychological Association supports cultural and democratic pluralism, while at the same time affirming that the national Interest can best be served when all members of a society have full access to effective opportunities to acquire strong English language proficiency and maintain mastery of a second or multiple languages for the enhancement of human potential.

The American Psychological Association opposes any initiative that potentially creates linguistic barriers to effective behavioral functioning, barriers to delivery of services In other than the English language, or that threatens to restrict the civil rights, civil liberties or equal opportunity of all persons, including persons with limited English proficiency.

The American Psychological Association recognizes and supports the need to retain and strengthen the full range of language assistance policies and programs, including bilingual assistance, In order to ensure all members of society an equal opportunity to exercise their rights and responsibilities in regard to the electoral process, education, the legal system, social services, and health care."

Guidelines for psychological practice with ethnic and culturally diverse populations

Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Ethnic and Culturally Diverse Populations (PDF, 132KB)

Resolution on priorities for persons with serious and persistent mental illness

WHEREAS mental health services to persons suffering from serious and persistent mental Illness have historically been and continue to be Inadequate;

WHEREAS the additional burdens of poverty, homelessness, and lack of support systems Increase the Intensity and complexity of the needs of persons with serious and persistent mental Illness and prevent them from leading dignified and productive lives;

THEREFORE be it resolved that the Council of the American Psychological Association directs the Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer to take the following actions:

  1. Recommend Immediate action to federal, state, and local officials that persons and their families being cared for In the public sector be assured the same standards of care as those In the private sector, Including APA standards for psychological services and the training and credentials of psychologists who work In public service;

  2. Encourage graduate and Internship programs In psychology to offer training In the delivery of services to persons with serious and persistent mental Illness of all ages, ethnicity, and gender, Including experiences working with this population and their families, community support systems, and with policy, planning and administrative systems;

  3. Promote the Involvement of consumers and their families In the planning and delivery of services and recommend an Increased Integration and coordination of community programs to provide an appropriate continuum of care and services to persons with serious and persistent mental Illness;

  4. Encourage periodic and systematic evaluation of treatment and program services to persons with serious and persistent mental Illness to ensure quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of services and advocate Increased funding for research In this area to further understanding of the effects of persistent psychological disability on persons and their families in order to provide services needed to address the needs of this population;

  5. Promote career development opportunities for psychologists working in public service to Include making available continuing education programs in planning, systems analysis, and management of public service programs.


Use of anatomically detailed dolls in forensic evaluation

Use of Anatomically Detailed Dolls in Forensic Evaluations

Legal liability related to confidentiality and the prevention of HIV transmission

Legal Liability Related to Confidentiality and the Prevention of HIV Transmission

Neuropsychological assessment and HIV infection

Neuropsychological Assessment and HIV Infection

U.S. Department of Defense policy on sexual orientation and advertising in APA publications

WHEREAS the American Psychological Association (APA) deplores discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; and

WHEREAS APA will not let Its publications, as advertising media, be used by others In support of discriminatory employment practices; and

WHEREAS the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) maintains a policy that homosexual orientation Is "Incompatible with military service"; and

WHEREAS the DoD will not knowingly admit bisexual, lesbian or gay Individuals to military service, Including research and clinical internship programs In psychology; and

WHEREAS an average of 1,5W men and women are unfairly discharged from military service each year because their sexual orientation becomes; known;

THEREFORE be it resolved that the APA opposes the DoD policy which finds homosexual orientation "Incompatible with military service"; and

Be it further resolved that APA take a leadership role among national organizations in seeking to change this discriminatory DoD policy, and

Be it further resolved that APA will not permit Its publications, as advertising media, to be used by the DoD after December 31, 1992, unless the DoD policy that homosexual orientation "is incompatible with military service" has been rescinded by that date."

In addition, Council approved the Inclusion of the following statement with all advertisements from the U.S. Military Services:

"Policies of the Department of Defense prohibit military service for individuals of homosexual orientation. Applicants must meet age and physical requirements".

Advertisements include printed announcements In APA publications, mailings using APA mailing lists and literature distributed at APA meetings.

Substance abuse by pregnant women

Substance Abuse by Pregnant Women (PDF, 52KB)


Legal access to sterile injection equipment by drug users

Legal Access to Sterile Injection Equipment by Drug Users

Resolution on the use of psychology to market tobacco products

Resolution on the Use of Psychology to Market Tobacco Products (PDF, 9KB)

Resolution on lesbian, gay and bisexual youths in the schools

Resolution on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youths in the Schools

Rust v. Sullivan Supreme Court decision

WHEREAS the American Psychological Association in 1983 determined that… "requiring clinics to provide the same blanket information to every pregnant woman, rather than to provide for each woman whatever information is individually appropriate to her particular needs, is inconsistent with basic principles of effective counseling and will hinder, rather than promote, informed consent."

(APA Amicus Curiae, Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health)

WHEREAS the American Medical Association and other health care provider organizations have already officially decried the hazardous effects of the Rust v. Sullivan Supreme Court Decision upholding the Title X Family Planning Program Regulations, known as the "Gag Rule"; and

WHEREAS the American Psychological Association has already adopted previous policies regarding a woman's right to reproductive choice.

BE IT RESOLVED that the American Psychological Association deplores the effects of the Title X regulations which prohibit health providers, including psychologists , who receive federal Title X funds, from informing women patients/clients of the availability of the alternative of abortion to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

Further, the APA urges the Congress to enact legislation and to override Presidential vetoes, as needed, to both remedy this health hazard and to serve as a precedent to buttress against further erosion of the rights associated with Roe v. Wade.

Further, APA will seek to inform Congress, the public and its own membership of its position and its recommendations through a public affairs and advocacy effort including but not limited to:

  1. press conferences in several major cities

  2. letter writing and mail campaigns

  3. news releases

  4. APA Monitor and other appropriate APA, Division, and State Association publications

Further, we direct the Chief Executive Officer of the American Psychological Association to activate the necessary mechanisms to ensure the accomplishments of the aims and goals of this resolution, including the capacity to respond to ongoing critical reproductive issues by participating in public information/media outreach efforts as necessary to help preserve a woman's right to choose.



Council voted to adopt the NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) strategies as policy. Council also voted to request that APA staff encourage NIOSH to give explicit attention to stresses caused by discrimination or exploitative treatment with regard to gender, race, ethnicity, culture, disability, sexual orientation, age, and religion across all four strategies. Moreover, Council calls attention to the home as a workplace and notes the need for research in this area.


Violence in mass media

Violence in Mass Media


Psychological needs of children exposed to disasters

Psychological Needs of Children Exposed to Disasters


APA resolution on school drop-out prevention

APA Resolution on School Drop-Out Prevention

Resolution on sexuality education

Resolution on Sexuality Education

Urban life and residence

WHEREAS in the past century, the United States of America has moved from a rural agrarian nation to an urban techno-industrial nation, and

WHEREAS three-quarters of American citizens now reside in urban and metropolitan centers, and

WHEREAS this population shift and residential change has been associated with environmentally specific risks of individual maladjustment, including alienation, demoralization, helplessness, hostility, substance abuse, distrust, isolation, apathy, marginalization, and powerlessness, and

WHEREAS this population shift and residential change has been associated with greater incidence of societal problems including crime, violence, homelessness, crowding, pollution, economic poverty, interracial conflict, and socio-cultural disintegration, and

WHEREAS these individual and societal adjustment problems have seriously impacted the survival, wellbeing, and life satisfaction of urban and metropolitan residents, and especially those of children, youth, elderly, women, ethnic minorities, immigrants, persons with disabilities and various marginalized groups, and

WHEREAS many urban life contexts and centers, including the home, workplace, school neighborhood and community have become places that often engender, precipitate, and maintain high levels of stress, tension, and related demands, and

WHEREAS resources for the management, attenuation, control, and/or prevention of these stresses, tensions, and demands have often proved to be unavailable, inadequate, or limited, and

WHEREAS urban life contexts and centers will continue to experience increases in population and residential size, density, diversity, and societal influence, and

WHEREAS urban life contexts and centers will continue to be the focus of cultural and artistic development, educational enhancement, and, ethnocultural and life-style diversity, and

WHEREAS people will continue to migrate to urban centers in pursuit of economic opportunity and security, individual freedoms and choice, and varied and alternative lifestyles, and

WHEREAS the projected rapid population growth of cultural minority populations in the United States -- expected to reach 35% by the year 2010 -- has critical ramifications for the social, psychological, and health needs of ethnic minority communities especially given the disproportionate concentration of populations of color residing in urban areas (88% according to Bureau of the Census data), and

WHEREAS the problems, demands, and challenges of urban life and residence have sometimes promoted life conditions that are intolerable and unacceptable to human life, wellbeing, and dignity, and

WHEREAS urban life and residence is now associated with numerous social and environmental conditions that act against the fulfillment of essential human needs including safety, security, identity, self-worth, and personal and group empowerment, and

WHEREAS the American Psychological Association and its membership are dedicated and committed to the promotion of human welfare and wellbeing, and the fostering of those conditions that encourage and sustain human worth, dignity, and development, and

WHEREAS applications of psychological theory, research, and practice are emerging that are germane and applicable to the amelioration, resolution, and prevention of the urban life circumstances that have spawned and fostered the problems, challenges, and demands noted previously, and

WHEREAS many members of the American Psychological Association are actively interested and involved in the amelioration, resolution, and prevention of these problems, challenges, and demands through the uses of assessment, intervention, evaluation, and preventive activities and programs, and

WHEREAS the membership of the American Psychological Association possess the capabilities, talents, motivation, and commitment to work with government, citizen, and private agencies and organizations to help ameliorate, resolve, and prevent the problems, challenges, and demands associated with urban life and residence,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the American Psychological Association endorse, support, and advance an expanded and increased role in matters related to (1) the amelioration and prevention of those individual and societal problems associated with urban life and residence, and (2) the promotion and encouragement of those opportunities for health and wellbeing associated with urban life and residence.

Social practices that induce violence

Social Practices that Induce Violence (PDF, 28KB)


Full participation for psychologists with disabilities

Full Participation for Psychologists with Disabilities

Appropriate therapeutic responses to sexual orientation

Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation


APA resolution on immigrant children, youth and families

APA resolution on immigrant children, youth and families

Legal benefits for same-sex couples

WHEREAS there is evidence that homosexuality per se implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability, or general social and vocational capabilities (Conger, 1975) for individuals;

WHEREAS legislation, other public policy, and private policy on issues related to same-sex couples is currently under development in many places in North America (e.g., Canadian Psychological Association, 1996);

WHEREAS the scientific literature has found no significant difference between different-sex couples and same-sex couples that justify discrimination (Kurdek, 1994;1983; Peplau, 1991);

WHEREAS scientific research has not found significant psychological or emotional differences between the children raised in different-sex versus same-sex households (Patterson, 1994);

WHEREAS APA has, as a long established policy, deplored "all public and private discrimination against gay men and lesbians in such areas as employment, housing, administration, and licensing ..." and has consistently urged "the repeal of all discriminatory legislation against lesbians and gay men" (Conger, 1975);

WHEREAS denying the legal benefits that the license of marriage offers to same-sex households (including, but not limited to, property rights, health care decision-making, estate planning, tax consequences, spousal privileges in medical emergency situations and co-parental adoption of children) cannot be justified as fair and equal treatment;

WHEREAS the absence of access to these benefits constitutes a significant psychosocial stressor for lesbians, gay men, and their families.

WHEREAS APA provides benefits to its members' and employees' domestic partners equivalent to those provided to members' and employees' spouses;

WHEREAS psychological knowledge can be used to inform the current public and legal debate on "same-sex marriage" (e.g., Baehr v. Levin);

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that APA supports the provision to same-sex couples of the legal benefits that typically accrue as a result of marriage to same-sex couples who desire and seek the legal benefits; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that APA shall provide relevant psychological knowledge to inform the public discussion in this area and assist state psychological associations and divisions in offering such information as needed.


Canadian Psychological Association. (1996). Policy statement on equality for lesbians, gay men, and their relationships and families. [Available from the Canadian Psychological Association.]

Conger, J.J. (1975). Proceedings of the American Psychological Association, Incorporated, for the year 1974: Minutes of the Annual Meeting of the Council of Representatives. American Psychologist, 30, 620-651.

Kurdek, L.A. (1993). The nature and correlates of relationship quality in gay, lesbian, and heterosexual cohabiting couples: A test of the individual difference, interdependence, and discrepancy models. In B. Greene & G.M. Herek (Eds.), Lesbian and gay psychology: Theory, research, and clinical issues (pp. 133-155). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Patterson, C.J. (1993). Children of the lesbian baby boom: Behavioral adjustment, self-concepts, and sex role theory. In B. Greene & G.M. Herek (Eds.), Lesbian and gay psychology: Theory, research, and clinical issues (pp. 156-175). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Peplau. A.L. (1991). Lesbian and gay relationships. In J.C. Gonsiorek and J.D. Weinrich (Eds.), Homosexuality: Research implications for public policy (pp. 177-196). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Mandatory minimum drug sentencing regulations

WHEREAS mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws reduce judicial discretion and require incarceration of offenders whose criminal behavior is limited to drug possession and use, and who may be first time offenders;

WHEREAS minor drug offenders receive harsh mandatory minimum sentences, regardless of their limited role in the offense, leaving the Chief Justice of the United States, William Rehnquist (commenting on a first-time offender sentenced to life imprisonment) to call such mandatory drug sentencing good examples Aof the law of unintended circumstances;

WHEREAS convicted offenders with substance abuse problems typically are remanded to prisons that lack adequate substance abuse treatment and HIV prevention programs that are essential for drug abusers;

WHEREAS mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws have contributed significantly to the more than threefold increase in the U.S. prison population during the past decade and have disproportionately involved minorities and the poor, especially African American and Hispanic males;

WHEREAS research on the cost-effectiveness of different drug control strategies has shown that substance abuse treatment, even with its known limitations, is a cost-effective strategy to reduce drug use;

WHEREAS the U.S. federal drug control budget heavily favors interdiction approaches to the U.S. drug problem to the detriment of providing adequate funding for drug treatment and prevention;

WHEREAS research on cocaine dosage forms has shown that the differences in the severity of sentences for powder and crack cocaine are not based on supportable differences in the psychological or biological impact of these dosage forms;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the American Psychological Association supports in principle the restoration of reasonable boundaries in mandatory drug sentencing laws, the phasing out of such laws at both the state and federal levels for drug-related offenses that do not involve drug trafficking and when no other offense or harm to others is involved, and the proper emphasis on prevention and treatment of substance-related problems as alternative to and in addition to legal actions.


Resolution opposing child sexual abuse

WHEREAS, the American Psychological Association is steadfast in its stand against the sexual abuse of children, and

WHEREAS, the welfare, appropriate treatment and protection of children is a priority of the highest order for the American Psychological Association, and

WHEREAS, the Committee on Children, Youth, and Families of the American Psychological Association was established in 1986 to “…contribute to the formulation and support of policies that facilitate the optimal development of children and youth within families…”, and

WHEREAS, children who have been sexually abused often experience health problems, eating disorders, learning difficulties, behavioral problems, fearfulness, social withdrawal, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts, and

WHEREAS, psychologists as researchers, educators, service providers and policy advocates have played important roles in advancing knowledge regarding the consequences, effective treatment, and prevention of child sexual abuse, and

WHEREAS, the vast body of research studies published by the American Psychological Association over the past 20 years had advanced the field and contributed to the development of sound public policy, and

WHEREAS, the American Psychological Association repudiates and disassociates itself from any organization or publication that advocates sexual interaction between children and adults,

THEREFORE, be it resolved that the American Psychological Association reaffirms its long established position that sexual relations between children and adults are abusive, exploitative, reprehensible and properly punishable by law.

Affirmative action and equal opportunity

WHEREAS affirmative action is defined as a remedy for both past and continuing discrimination based on race, ethnicity and gender; and

WHEREAS affirmative action seeks to put in place voluntary and mandatory efforts by federal, state and local governments, private employers and schools; to combat discrimination, foster fair hiring and advancement of qualified individuals regardless of their race, ethnicity and gender; and to promote equal opportunity in education and employment for all (Stephanopoulos and Edley, 1995 & Wilson, 1995); and

WHEREAS there is evidence that discrimination on the basis of race, ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, age, and disability continues to exist in employment and educational settings, despite years of effort to eliminate it; and clearly delineated institutional policies and procedures designed to assure fairness and equality can deter such discrimination (Report of the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, 1995); and

WHEREAS affirmative action is one of the most effective ways to address the long-standing problems of racism and sexism in our country, thereby serving as a means of reaching America's goal of equality of opportunity (Pratkanis and Turner, 1996); and

WHEREAS affirmative action benefits all members of society because all citizens benefit by being part of a well-trained, competitive workforce capable of participating effectively in the global world market place and of supporting an aging population (Helms, 1996; Norton & Fox, 1998); and

WHEREAS America is increasingly becoming a multiethnic, multilingual, and multicultural society, psychology recognizes the need for ethnic diversity within the profession to increase the field's capacity to address the health and behavior issues for ethnically diverse groups in a culturally appropriate and culturally competent fashion Myers, Wohlford, Guzman and Echemendia, 1991); and

WHEREAS many ethnic minority groups disproportionately experience the trauma of oppression, discrimination, and poverty which at times may be manifested through behavioral, health and mental health problems that psychologists address (e.g., substance abuse, emotional and behavioral disturbances, etc.), psychology recognizes the need for culturally competent training in assessment and provision of services to individuals who experience these problems (Ponterotto, Casas, Suzuke and Alexander, 1995); and

WHEREAS APA joins organizations such as the Association of American Medical Colleges in recognizing that the failure of health professions to adequately address the needs of ethnic minority populations represents a public health crisis, and strongly supports efforts to ensure diversity in the nation's healthcare workforce (Association of American Medical Colleges, 1997); and

WHEREAS true diversity can only be accomplished by proactive, affirmative programs to increase the enrollment of ethnic minority students in undergraduate and graduate training programs in psychology and increase the numbers of ethnic minority faculty and psychological service providers within training and service settings (Myers, Wohlford, Guzman and Echemendia, 1991; Testimony of APA, 1997; and

WHEREAS the American Psychological Association is committed, in its Mission Statement and in its Bylaws, 1.1, "…to advance psychology as a science and profession and as a means of promoting human welfare ...";

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the American Psychological Association reaffirms its commitment to affirmative action. American Psychological Association supports equal opportunities for persons regardless of race, gender, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation and national origin.

Furthermore, the APA encourages psychological and public policy research that would illuminate sources of bias in institutional policies and practices that lead to discrimination against the aforementioned groups and favors research that suggests avenues for elimination of discrimination.


American Psychological Association. (1996). Clarifying The Debate: Psychology Examines The Issues. Affirmative Action: Who Benefits? Washington DC: American Psychological Association.

American Psychological Association. (1997). Testimony of the APA presented to the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution on the topic of "H.R. 1909 'The Civil Rights Act of 1997"', Thursday, June 26, 1997.

Association of American Medical Colleges. (1997). Issue Brief: The Impact of Ending Affirmative Action on the Nation's Physician Workforce. AAMC: Washington, D.C.

Federal Glass Ceiling Commission (1995, March). Good for Business: Making Full Use of the Nation's Human Capital. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

Helms, J. E. (1996). Affirmative Action: Who Benefits? Where Do We Go From Here? Washington, DC: The American Psychological Association.

Myers, HF, Wohlford, P., Guzman, L.P., Echemendia, R.J., (1991). Ethnic Minority Perspectives on Clinical Training and Services In Psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Norton, J.R., & Fox, R.E. (1997). The Change Equation: Capitalizing on Diversity for Effective Organizational Change. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Ponterotto, J.G., Casas, J.M., Suzuki, L. A., & Alexander, C.M. (1995). Handbook of Multicultural Counseling. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Pratkanis, A.R., & Turner, M.E. (1996). The Proactive Removal of Discriminatory Barriers: Affirmative Action As Effective Help. Journal of Social Issues, 52, 111-132.

Stephanopoulos, G., and Edley, C., Jr. (1995). Affirmative Action Review: Report to the President. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

Resolution on male violence against women

Resolution on Male Violence against Women


Poverty and socioeconomic status

Poverty and Socioeconomic Status