Aims of the EASP
The overarching aim of the European Association of Social Psychology is straightforward: to promote excellence in European research in the field of social psychology. As the history of the Association demonstrates, the objectives of those who founded the Association were to improve the quality of social psychological research in Europe by promoting greater contact among researchers in different European countries. In the 1950s and 1960s it was not unusual for social psychologists in a European country to enjoy better contacts with their North American counterparts than with their fellow Europeans.
The Association has done much to overcome this state of affairs. The most obvious means by which this has been achieved is through the General Meetings of the Association, a complete listing of which appears elsewhere on this website. However, there are several other activities that have been, and indeed continue to be, as important as the General Meetings in promoting contact and cooperation among European social psychologists. Foremost among these are the Summer Schools. They bring together graduate students in social psychology from all over Europe. In addition to the immediate educational benefits, enduring friendships and research collaborations are often formed at these schools.
Another aspect of the Association's activities that has helped to create better knowledge of and appreciation for each other's work are the Small Group and Medium Size Meetings. These are organised around particular themes or topics and therefore bring together social psychologists working in the same area, creating the opportunity to exchange ideas, methods, and findings, and to establish collaborative ventures.
In addition to the improved communication between European social psychologists, the Association has done much to enhance the international visibility of European social psychology. The establishment of the European Journal of Social Psychology was undoubtedly a crucial step in this process. In the years since its inception (1971), the journal has become a widely read and well respected forum for social psychology; more than that, it has been effective in presenting a distinctive brand of social psychology to the rest of the world in general and to North America in particular. To speak of "European" and "North American" social psychology as though they were non-overlapping classes of activity is patently absurd, but the tendency to accord a greater role to social and cultural factors in European social psychology is generally recognised and has arguably had some impact on social psychology as practised in North America. The European Journal of Social Psychology has played an important role by providing a voice for this more 'social' social psychology.
Scope of the EASP
So much for the aims of the Association; what of its scope? The geographical scope of membership is impressive. There are Full Members of the Association in virtually every European country; details of the geographical spread of members can be found in the Membership section of this website. The numerical scope of membership is also impressive, and the membership expands rapidly each year; again, details of the rate of expansion over the years can be found in the Membership section. Another aspect of the scope of the Association concerns the extension of categories of membership. In 1988 two new categories were created: Affiliate Members, i.e., professional or academic social psychologists working outside Europe, most typically in North America, Israel or Australasia; and Postgraduate Members, i.e., graduate students or junior researchers who are registered for a research degree at a European university, although European nationals who are pursuing a research degree outside Europe are also eligible for postgraduate membership. These new categories of membership have also proved to be popular, and have had the welcome effect of attracting significant numbers of non-Europeans and postgraduate students to the General Meetings.
The EASP: a success story
It is clear that the Association has been a success. The increases in contact between European social psychologists, in the size of the membership of the Association, in the range of membership types, in the numbers of submissions to and frequency of publication of the European Journal of Social Psychology, in the numbers of people attending General Meetings, and in the international visibility of European social psychology all testify to the positive effect that the Association has had on social psychology in Europe and beyond. While it is not the case that each of these positive outcomes can be attributed exclusively to the existence of the Association, what is undeniable is that the Association has helped to bring them about.
Tony Manstead, EASP president 1993-1996