Lt. Governor Nungesser and Dr. Scott O. Lilienfeld Look at Psychology’s Role

Lt. Governor William (Billy) Nungesser and nationally recognized clinical psychologist, Scott O. Lilienfeld, delivered the welcome and keynote to attendees for the 70th Annual Convention of the Louisiana Psychological Association, held last month in Metairie.

Nungesser highlighted the need for those in Louisiana to think “outside the box” when it comes to Louisiana’s critical needs, helping launch the 2018 theme, “Psychology: Essential Partner for Solving Critical Problems.”

In his remarks, the Lt. Governor pointed to the natural beauty and strengths of the state’s diverse population and environment, and his belief that the state’s culture, history and people are the key to making the state great and working out the problems, he said. Nungesser also spoke on how he and others have addressed natural disasters and built resources through the programs in the Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism.

Lt. Governor Nungesser has been called one of the state’s top CEOs, for his ground-up business development and his can-do approach to crises like Katrina and Deepwater Horizon. He also spoke about his business background and how problem-solving and innovation was essential.

Nungesser closed with the new branding video and slogan, “Feed Your Soul,” unveiled at Mardi Gras 2018. He explained the method for the branding effort was data-driven, pointing to the evidence-based methods and thinking outside-the-box for the outcomes.

Followed with hearty applause by attendees, the video included an appealing, baritone narrator who said, “Louisiana isn’t for spectators. It’s for participants, for those who want to feed their soul, to not only live in the moment, but to become the moment.”

The video can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnGRfDaMU4

Nationally recognized speaker and Emory Professor Dr. Scott O. Lilienfeld, continued the theme with “Being the Essential Partner: Understanding and Overcoming Skepticism about Scientific Psychology.”

Dr. Lilienfeld, recipient of the James McKeen Cattell Award for Lifetime Contributions to Applied Psychological Science from the Association for Psychological Science, reviewed the evidence for the public’s skepticism of psychology as a science and why the public has doubts about information from psychological science.

Among his findings he cited that only 30% agree that “psychology attempts to understand the way people behave through scientific research” and 41% see psychological research as less rigorous than medical research. Along with many findings he noted that an APA Presidential Task Force found that, “Despite psychology’s foundation in science and its standing as the science of human behavior, it is not fully accepted as a science by the general public.”

After Dr. Lilienfeld reviewed the common criticisms of psychology’s scientific status he discussed rebuttals of the criticisms, and gave main reasons for negative public views of psychology.

He noted that the public face of psychology is not represented by psychological scientists. “Psychologists are rarely called on by the media to comment on psychological findings; when they are, they are rarely scientific psychologists,” he said.

He pointed to “The Illusion of Understanding––We’re all ‘psychologists’ in everyday life, so psychology seems easy.”

Among the problems he included the “Confusion Between Psychologists and Psychotherapists,” as an important factor.

He also said that that scientific psychology is challenged by the “scientific impotence excuse,” and that “When psychological findings conflict with our deeply held intuitions, we may resolve that cognitive dissonance by dismissing a scientific approach to the questions at hand…”

Among the remedies, Dr. Lilienfeld said that, “Academic and practicing psychologists have not spent enough of their time disseminating science to the public, combating bad science, and correcting misconceptions of the field.”

“We must play a more active role in educating laypersons about psychology’s scientific side and confronting its nonscientific side,” he said.

Lilienfeld’s work has been cited over 21,295 times. He delivered the Award Address, “Psychology’s Public Image Problem: Why Many Laypersons and Politicians Don’t View Our Field as Scientific,” at APS. He is also a researcher and test author in areas of psychopathy, and also presented, “The Multifaceted Nature of Psychopathy.”

Also highlighted this year was neuropsychologist David Schwartz, PhD, from the Concussion Institute in Atlanta; April Foreman, PhD, licensed psychologist and Suicide Prevention Coordinator for Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System; and Canadian psychologist, and expert in nutritional mental health, Bonnie Kaplan, PhD.

Denise Newman, PhD, chaired a panel with Drs. Alvin Burstein, Dana Labat, and Sandra Loucks, on the “Heart of Change in Psychotherapy.”

“Ethical Issues and Health Disparity,” was presented by co-chairs ValaRay Irvin, PhD and Chris Leonhard, PhD, APPB. Alan Coulter, PhD, and Courtland Chaney, PhD, presented a cross specialty presentation on “Opportunities for Organization Development Interventions in Schools: The Interface of Two Specialties.”

Members of the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists and staff presented, “Laws, Rules & Ethics Update.”

Tiffany Jennings, PsyD, presented, “Highlights on Rural Health:Utilizing Telehealth to Increase Access to Care, Support, and Peer Consultation.”

Jill Hayes, PhD, lead a round table discussion on “Ethical and Legal Issues for Misdiagnosis,” with Drs. Denise Newman, John Fanning, and Marc Zimmermann.

A Scientific Poster Session was chaired by Drs. Ashley Jefferson and Melissa Dufrene, and the Science Café was chaired by Drs. Scott Smith and Bridget Sonnier-Hillis.

The Convention included an Industrial-Organizational Psychology Mini-Conference, with presentations by Richard Flicker, PhD, Courtland Chaney, PhD, Jim Stodd, MS, Barry Vose, BS, William Costelloe, PhD, Tyree Mitchell, PhD, John-Luke McCord and Brian Doyle, and Jared LeDoux, PhD.

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