The big news from the August meeting of APA’s Council of Representatives was the adoption of a new resolution that bans psychologists from participating in national
security interrogations for military or intelligence entities and
aligns APA’s policy definition of cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment with that of the U.N. Convention
The resolution — whose principal author was Scott
Churchill, PhD, of Div. 32 (Society for Humanistic Psychology)
— passed with a nearly unanimous vote (see page 72 for the roll
call vote; for the full report, see the September Monitor.) A copy
of the new policy can be found at www.apa.org/independent-review/psychologists-interrogation.pdf.
APA’s council also took important action in several other
areas. Among them was adopting a resolution that urges the
video game industry to design games that are appropriate to
users’ age and psychological development and encourages the
Entertainment Software Rating Board to refine its video game
rating system “to reflect the levels and characteristics of violence
The resolution also voices APA’s support for more research
to address gaps in the knowledge about the effects of violent
video game use.
The resolution is based on recommendations from the
APA Task Force on Violent Media, which was formed in 2013.
The group concluded that violent video game play is linked
to increased aggression in players, but also stated that there is
insufficient evidence about whether the link extends to criminal
violence or delinquency.
Over the past two years, the task force reviewed the research
published from 2005 to 2013 focused on violent video game
use. This included four meta-analyses that reviewed more than
150 research reports published before 2009. Task force members
then conducted a systematic evidence review and a quantitative
review of literature published from 2009 to 2013.
The task force concluded that “the research demonstrates
a consistent relation between violent video game use and
increases in aggressive behavior, aggressive cognitions and
aggressive affect, and decreases in prosocial behavior, empathy
and sensitivity to aggression.”
While scientists have investigated the use of violent video
games for more than two decades, there has been limited
research looking at whether violent video games cause people
to commit criminal violence, says Mark Appelbaum, PhD, task
“However, the link between violence in video games and
increased aggression in players is one of the most studied and
best established in the field,” he says.
The report concluded that there is no single risk factor
that consistently leads a person to act aggressively or violently.
“Rather, it is the accumulation of risk factors that tends to
lead to aggressive or violent behavior. The research reviewed
here demonstrates that violent video game use is one such risk
factor,” the report says.
The task force identified several limitations in the research
that require further study. These include a general failure to
look for any differences in outcomes between boys and girls
who play violent video games; a dearth of studies that have
examined the effects of violent video game play on children
younger than 10; and a lack of research that has examined the
games’ effects over the course of children’s development.
“We know that there are numerous risk factors for aggressive
behavior,” Appelbaum says. “What researchers need to do now
is conduct studies that look at the effects of video game play in
people at risk for aggression or violence due to a combination
of risk factors. For example, how do depression or delinquency
interact with violent video game use?”
A copy of the task force report can be found at www.apa.
A copy of the new APA policy is at www.apa.org/news/press/
In addition to Appelbaum, members of the task force were
Sandra Calvert, PhD; Kenneth Dodge, PhD; Sandra Graham,
PhD; Gordon N. Hall, PhD; Sherry Hamby, PhD; and Larry
Council votes to change
an association bylaw
During the 2015 legislative year, the APA Council of
Representatives voted to submit the following proposed
bylaws amendments to the APA voting membership
for a vote. The proposed amendment seeks changes to
the composition of the Board of Educational Affairs
so that one seat could be held by an APA High School
or Community College Teacher Affiliate member. An
explanatory statement will accompany the bylaws
amendment ballot. The council voted not to include pro/
con statements with the proposed amendment.
Underlined text is to be added, in accordance with
Association Rule 30-5. 1.
ARTICLE XI: Boards and Committees
9. The Board of Educational Affairs shall consist of
not fewer than twelve Members of the Association, one
of which may be an APA Teacher Affiliate member, who
shall serve for terms of not less than three years each. It
shall have general concern for all educational and training
affairs which transcend more than one Division or group
of psychologists. Members of the Board of Educational
Affairs shall be selected to represent the range of interests
characteristic of psychology in all its aspects.