Welcome to the Oklahoma Psychological Society. This website is designed to help you learn what Oklahoma Psychological Society is, our purpose, and keep you updated on what’s happening with OPS and local Psi Chi chapters throughout the state.
Our mission is to provide a collegial environment for students to experience the communication of ideas. Students and faculty working together sponsor and participate in a state convention to encourage and develop psychological research. It is also a part of our mission to invite and host featured speakers so that students might be exposed to accomplished mentors in scientific psychology.
The pre-history of the Oklahoma Psychological Society (OPS) began in 1975 with the initiation of the Central State University Undergraduate Psychology Colloquium organized by Bill Frederickson. Dr. Frederickson wanted to create a student friendly mini-convention for Central State University (CSU) undergraduate experimental psychology students to practice presenting papers in preparation for other state and regional conventions. Dr. Frederickson and another faculty member, Dr. David Chance, had attended the University of Oklahoma (OU) when Dr. Muzafer Sherif chaired the department of psychology. Dr. Sherif was very well known, in part because of his famous “Robber’s Cave” experiment, and was visiting the state at about the time the colloquium was scheduled. When Dr. Sherif agreed to be the featured speaker it was decided to invite other universities to attend. The following year’s speaker was Roger Fouts, a very dynamic young researcher who had recently arrived at the OU with psychology’s most famous chimpanzee, Washoe Pan satyrus. Needless to say, both of these featured speakers attracted a large audience.
However, Dr. Frederickson was concerned that such well-known speakers were detracting from what was most important about the conference — highlighting the work of students. For this reason it was decided that the next speaker would be someone less recognizable. Through an unusual set of circumstances, Mike Knight met a young professor from Stanford University at the Southwestern Psychological Association meeting in Albuquerque New Mexico. Phillip Zimbardo had teamed up with Floyd Ruch in authoring the most popular general psychology textbook at the time, Psychology and Life. Zimbardo had recently completed a controversial experiment using students as prisoners and guards in a mock prison experiment that was the subject of his talk at the 1977 colloquium. Phil Zimbardo became a good friend of students and faculty in Oklahoma and was to return twice more, in 1999 and 2004 to be the featured speaker at the Oklahoma Psychological Society convention. Past became prologue as featured speakers became an integral part of the annual student conference.
In 1979 the Oklahoma Psychological Association (OPA) created separate divisions, including the Division of Health Service Providers, the OPA Student Division, and the Division of Academic and Research Psychologists (DARP). Because the OPA conference was always held in the fall and emphasized continuing education workshops and training seminars more than research, DARP and the OPA student division decided to merge with the CSU colloquium and organize a spring conference which would focus more exclusively on research. From 1982 to 1994 the conference was called the OPA Spring Conference to Encourage and Develop Psychological Research. In 1989, many academic and research psychologists became dissatisfied with APA as a national organization and formed the American Psychological Society (APS). Many of the members of DARP gravitated to the newly created Oklahoma Psychological Society (OPS). In the 1990s, the spring conference was variously referred to as the OPS/OPA Spring Conference, then the OPS/OPA Student Division Spring Conference, before finally becoming the OPS Spring Research Conference. The spring designation is something of a vestigial appendage now, given that there is no OPS fall conference, but the conference continues in its mission to provide an opportunity for constructive interaction between students and faculty in the state of Oklahoma.