Barney Beins, associate professor of psychology at Ithaca College, was recently elected to the American Psychological Association’s Council of Representatives, the organization’s legislative body with authority to set policy and handle revenue.
Beins sat down with Contributing Writer Stacey Lawrence to talk about what he will do for the board during his three-year term.
Stacey Lawrence: How did you become interested in the psychology of humor?
Barney Beins: Well my background is in experimental psychology, specifically in the field of cognition. I had a research team for about eight years that dealt with cognition and I just thought it was time to move on. Initially I wanted to start studying the language factors in humor, and it turned out that students were much more interested in studying personality issues in humor. So that’s the way I’ve gravitated there.
SL: Are there any issues that you personally feel the APA needs to address in a policy, or are there any policies that you feel need revising?
BB: My focus has always been on education, specifically undergraduate education. So what I would like to see is more attention paid to issues of fostering professional development on the part of undergraduate psychology teachers. The APA does a very good job of providing resources and materials for psychology teachers, and what I hope to do is keep the organization from losing that focus.
SL: Is there anything else you hope to accomplish in your field that you haven’t yet accomplished?
BB: I’ve been paying attention to questions of scientific literacy and I wouldn’t mind being able to do some kind of work with APA to foster scientific literacy as a specific goal for psychology students. What I’d like to do optimally is find some way to have APA work to generate an orientation or a focus along those lines.
SL: Is there anything else you would like to add about the new position or your work in the field?
BB: The one thing that I think is important to know is that at schools like Ithaca, the faculty is just so involved in student learning. I’ve been fortunate in my career to meet a lot of people who are like the faculty here. I know psychologists from all around the country whose primary goal is fostering student learning. That’s the kind of thing that I really want to keep doing, and that’s where my focus is and where I hope it always will be.