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Advocate Spotlight: Debra A. Major, PhD

Cite this
American Psychological Association. (2021, November 1). Advocate Spotlight: Debra A. Major, PhD.

debra-major Name: Debra A. Major, PhD
Home State: Virginia
APA Division: Division 14 (Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology), Division 35 (Society for the Psychology of Women))

What do you feel most passionate about regarding your advocacy work?

I am passionate about sharing the wide range of ways that psychology can help address critical issues facing our society. In addition to psychology’s critical role in ensuring equitable mental health care, it is important that decision makers understand the broader expertise psychology can bring to bear. For instance, work in industrial/organizational psychology is essential to navigating the future of work. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how rapidly work can change and the value of psychological science in preparing and responding. As one example, psychological research and practice regarding telework and work-family balance was brought to bear on the rapid transition to work-from-home due to COVID-19.

What would you want APA members who are not engaged in advocacy to know?

You may already be engaged in advocacy! Every time you tell someone about state-of-the-art psychological science and practice, you’re engaging in a little bit of advocacy. Effective advocacy doesn’t always require a visit to Capitol Hill. Sometimes we can have the biggest impact in our local communities just by intentionally sharing the kind of work we do every day. Community groups are often eager to learn about the work we’re doing. Reach out to one and offer to give a talk.

What do you think are the biggest challenges in advocacy for psychology?

In advocating for psychology in the current environment, we encounter extremely different views about how to set priorities and what is considered evidence. There can be political polarization around even the most essential shared challenges we face. Attacks on science, distrust of experts, and devaluing of education create barriers in advocating for psychology. Fortunately, psychological expertise can be brought to bear in addressing these fundamental issues.