Psychology, Professional Practice, and the Public Interest

  • Gottlieb C. Simon


Implicit in the title of this chapter is the idea that there can be a gap—potentially a very large one—between the interests of psychology as a profession and the interests of our clients and society as a whole. To George Bernard Shaw’s contemporary followers, those who believe with him that all professions are conspiracies against the laity, it hardly could be otherwise. For many practicing psychologists, however, this idea may seem not only unacceptable but unthinkable. To them, a profession, because it is predicated on the service ethic, must perforce be in the public interest. Nonetheless, professionals, like other people, are guided not only by our desire to do good for others, but by our desire to do all right for ourselves. There is more than one aspect to our motivation. We are influenced not only by the public interest, but by our guild interests: the desire for increased income, social acceptance, influence, and power. The problem for us, and for society, is that these separate interests can and do pull us in different directions. When they do, which way will we turn? Former APA president M. Brewster Smith (1976) has called attention to the “natural tendency” of “APA lobbying and related activity ... to gravitate toward the guild rather than the public interest component” (p. 2).


Public Interest Professional Practice American Psychological Association Professional Psychology Concerned Professional 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gottlieb C. Simon
    • 1
  1. 1.USA

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