International Congress for Psychology 2012

As the International Congress for Psychology 2012 "serving the humanity" closes today (27 July) in Cape Town, South Africa, organisers have released a statement on how psychological approaches pay off in terms of human, social and financial capital.

Psychology can make the world a better place. This is one of the conclusions from five days of meetings, talks, presentations and discussions of about 6.000 participants at the congress.

"To meet the challenges of the changes we are witnessing across the world, be it due to scientific advances, or financial catastrophes; to political transformation, or climate change and ecological fragility, we have to come together more than ever before." said Professor Rainer K. Silbereisen, outgoing President of the International Union of Psychological Science IUPsyS.

He continued: "We have to pool our knowledge and expertise, and we have to learn from one another – we have to recognise the contribution all areas of the world can make, and understand the importance of diversity."

The success of molecular genetics and neuroscience on one hand, and socio-ecological approaches to human behaviour and development on the other, led to a breakthrough to a better understanding of how the interchange between all levels of biological mechanisms and ecological contexts influences human behaviour and development, and also provides crucial insights on the effects of social change on the well being of individuals and groups.

"Psychologists, however, not only set out to describe, predict, and explain normative and deviant behaviour; we also undertake ways to modify and optimize it," said Professor Silbereisen. "Here, new approaches have been developed that evaluate findings of carefully planned interventions, not only in terms of statistical significance, but also to provide evidence on how psychological approaches pay off in terms of human, social, and financial capital, and thereby achieve gains for society as a whole. Iin other words, ‘prevention is better than cure’, financially and socially, and psychology can help in this."

Albert Bandura, one of the most renowned scientists in psychology ever, was honoured at the ICP 2012 for his lifetime achievement. He underlined Silbereisen´s conclusions. He said: “Social modeling has become a major vehicle for large-scale social and political change. Social modeling of mass civil resistance rapidly toppled autocratic rulers and their oppressive regimes in Eastern Europe and in the Arab spring. There is much utopian talk about the democratizing power of the social media. Dislodging despotic rulers liberates oppressed factions who vie for power in the governance vacuum. Initial euphoria, usually gives rise to disillusionment over the nature of controversial changes in the aftermath and the slow pace of change.

”What is lacking, are prosocial models on how to meld diverse self-interest into common cause, for humane, representative governance.”

In his concluding remarks Professor Silbereisen said:"The presentations and discussions here in Cape Town are the fertilizer and catalysts for better and more relevant basic, applied, and translational research, and for the professional applications of psychology. All working towards improving, developing and enriching society for everyone.

"Psychology is serving the humanity."

Dr Sathasivan Cooper, previously Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of Durban-Westville, succeeds Prof. Rainer K. Silbereisen as President of the International Union of Psychology (IUPsyS).

The IUPsyS sponsors an International Congress of Psychology (ICP) every four years. The next congress is planned for 24-29 July 2016 in Yokohama, Japan.