The field of psychology is diverse and large — the American Psychological Association alone has divisions representing more than 54 separate topic areas. Tens of thousands of psychology papers are published every year in peer-reviewed journals. In 2015 alone, there were more than 2,000 meta-analyses papers (research that summarizes and examines other research) published in psychology’s PsycINFO research database.
Here are ten psychology articles published in the past year that I think were important or intriguing, and advanced the field of psychology significantly.
1. The Hoffman Report
While not a traditional psychology article, the Hoffman Report — formally titled the Independent Review Relating to APA Ethics Guidelines, National Security Interrogations, and Torture — looked into the American Psychological Association’s (APA) efforts to ensure that psychologists could continue to consult in torture interrogations. The independent investigation into the efforts of the APA’s leadership led to the firing of a single staffer, the resignation of another, and the early retirement of two others.
Those named in the report led a vigorous rebuttal effort to tarnish the report’s investigation and findings. This report shed light on the inner machinations of the APA, the world’s largest professional association of psychologists (suffering in recent years from declining membership), and may be the spark that will make the organization more transparent than it has ever been (Hoffman Report, 2015).
2. Comprehensive Versus Usual Community Care for First-Episode Psychosis: 2-Year Outcomes From the NIMH RAISE Early Treatment Program
When most families are confronted with a family member who has a first episode of schizophrenia or psychosis, the usual course of treatment recommended is antipsychotic medication. This important longitudinal study demonstrated that focusing more on psychotherapy and family support results in better patient outcomes (Kane et al., 2015).
3. Estimating the Reproducibility of Psychological Science
The scientists conducting this massive, multi-year project decided to look at whether they could reproduce 100 psychology studies conducted by a random set of researchers in 2008. Their findings were somewhat unexpected. Only 36 percent of the replications had statistically significant results — meaning that the researchers couldn’t find significance in the remaining 64 percent of studies. Only 47 percent had effect sizes in a comparable range, but they were typically 50 percent smaller than the original effect sizes (Open Science Collaboration, 2015).