July 16th, 2020



Featured sessions will address the psychology of racism and hate, leadership in a time of crisis and the psychological toll of COVID-19

WASHINGTON -- Due to physical distancing guidelines associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, APA 2020 will be held virtually Aug. 6-8. The online event will feature hundreds of sessions, including main stage events, keynote lectures, symposia and posters.

The following three sessions will focus on the impact psychology can have on major issues facing society and will premiere at 11 a.m., EDT, each day of the convention:

Thursday, Aug. 6 – Leadership in times of crisis
The COVID-19 pandemic and the racial protests following George Floyd’s death have completely changed the way many of us live, work and interact with others, presenting significant challenges for leaders, whether they are a public official, business leader or religious leader. What does psychology say about the secrets of human behavior that can not only help leaders through this time, but teach them to optimize it?  

Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, CEO, American Psychological Association
Sandra L. Shullman, PhD, president, American Psychological Association
Ellen Peters, PhD, University of Oregon
Adam Grant, PhD, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
Ali Mattu, PhD, clinical psychologist and producer of “The Psych Show”

Friday, Aug. 7 – Psychological toll of COVID-19
With the pandemic and the recent reckoning on racism, Americans are facing the perfect storm of trauma. The collective mental health of the public has endured one devastating blow after another, the long-term effects of which many people will struggle with for years to come. What does science have to say about the stressors we are facing as a nation? How can we help ourselves, our children and our communities?

Johannes Eichstaedt, PhD, Stanford University
C. Vaile Wright, PhD, American Psychological Association   
Jeanette Betancourt, EdD, Sesame Workshop 
Vikram Patel, MD, Harvard University School of Medicine

Saturday, Aug. 8 – Psychology of racism and hate
More than 50 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed the American Psychological Association and challenged psychologists and all social scientists to step up. But have we? There are brilliant researchers assessing the dynamics behind everything from the traumatic impact of racism on people of color to the biases we all hold and must face, but that research is not being used often enough to improve things. How do we better identify and apply research to meet the challenge?

Alfiee M. Breland-Noble, PhD, MHSc, Georgetown University Medical Center
Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, CEO, American Psychological Association
David R. Williams, PhD, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Milo Dodson, PhD, UC Irvine Counseling Center
Calvin Lai, PhD, Washington University in St. Louis

The meeting will also feature more than a dozen keynote lectures from prominent psychologists including:

  • Anthony Barnhart, PhD, Carthage College – “Magic in the Lab: Psychological Insights from Magicians”
  • Stephane Bouchard, PhD, University of Quebec, Ottawa – “Technology is Changing the Face of Psychotherapy of Anxiety Disorders”
  • Thema Bryant-Davis, PhD, Pepperdine University – “Liberation Psychology: Decolonizing Our Response to Racial Trauma”
  • Ramani Durvasula, PhD, California State University, Los Angeles – “Gaslighting and Grief: Talking About Narcissism and Narcissistic Abuse”
  • Tom Gilovich, PhD, Cornell University – “We Don’t Need Social Media to Feel Bad About Ourselves”
  • Jonathan Haidt, PhD, New York University – “Three Really Bad Ideas for Raising Happy and Successful Children”

Keynotes, as well as hundreds of video symposia and thousands of online poster presentations, will be available on demand starting at 11 a.m., EDT, on Aug. 6 and will be available to registrants until Aug. 1, 2021.  

Among the topics to be presented:


  • Toxic workplaces and abusive leaders
  • Using organizational data to enhance leadership
  • Meditation and spirituality to prevent burnout in health care professionals


  • Identifying and treating trauma in Black males 
  • The role of religion in promoting minority mental health
  • Strategies to foster more ethnic and racial minority psychologists
  • How psychologists can help communities that live with the wounds of racism


  • The role of educational disparities in aging and cognition
  • Effects of social networks and social media use on cognition in older adults
  • Role of technology in strengthening the aging brain


  • Using school-wide social emotional learning to prevent and reduce bullying
  • School psychologists’ role in trauma-informed care
  • Using artificial intelligence to detect signs of emotional crisis in student writing samples
  • Redefining discipline: How a whole-child approach addresses school inequities systemically


  • Religion, morality and problematic pornography use
  • Talking about masculinity without causing defensiveness


  • How socioeconomic status can harm or help a relationship
  • Solutions to miscommunication patterns between teens and adults


  • The role of underlying mental health disorders in substance abuse
  • Recent advances in mobile assessment and treatment of addiction
  • Reversing the adverse effects of the opioid epidemic on young children
  • Cannabis and the developing brain


  • Making meaning from digital media and electronic word of mouth
  • Choosing the best app for client care
  • Fake news, misinformation and political campaigns


  • Can early childhood interventions prevent suicidal behavior later in life?
  • The psychology of sacred moments in ordinary music

More information can be found online. This site will be updated regularly as additional information becomes available, including a schedule of events expected later this week.

For more information on program topics and speakers, contact APA Public Affairs.  


Media can receive complimentary registration, which includes on-demand access for 12 months after the event, by emailing APA Public Affairs or by calling 202-336-5700. Registration is limited to credentialed journalists and journalists who have assignment letters on the letterhead of a media organization. 


All presentations will be embargoed until the time of posting unless otherwise noted.


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