The 2015 APA Annual Conference will be held Monday, August 10 – Saturday, August 15 in Washington, DC, and I, Mark Goldstein, APA Conference Committee Chair, am pleased to announce this year’s Annual Conference Theme: The Psychological Impact of Sharks on Humans. This theme—though admittedly a bit unorthodox—is the result of an exciting new partnership between the American Psychological Association and The Discovery Channel. As per our agreement with The Discovery Channel, segments of next year’s APA Conference will be broadcast live on The Discovery Channel along with exciting Shark Week programs such as Zombie Sharks and Alien Shark: Return to the Abyss. Furthermore, the conference can be viewed in its entirety online at In return for this academic legitimization, The Discovery Channel has generously agreed to provide funding that will cover the cost of our conferences for the next three years. Now is the time to advance a paper or session submission for consideration by a division or special interest group, as the deadline for submissions is January 10.

Before submitting, please take time to review the newly revised conference submission requirements posted on the APA website. Pay special attention to the section entitled “New This Year,” which is delimited by shark fin silhouettes, as this section contains stipulations all presenters must adhere to in order for APA to receive the direly needed sponsorship funding from The Discovery Channel. For instance, in addition to being peer reviewed, all submissions will also be reviewed by a member of Discovery’s Appeal Team, who will rate the televisual appeal of each submission on a scale of 1-5. Submissions that earn a score of 2 or lower will not be considered for conference acceptance, no matter how highly they are rated by peer reviewers. In order to ensure submissions reach this appeal threshold, all authors should read the bulleted list of suggestions provided by The Discovery Channel in the subsection entitled “How to Make Your Proposal Less Boring,” which appears on page 5 of the submission requirements document and includes such advice as “correlations are boring! Don’t be afraid to draw causational conclusions despite the lack of longitudinal support!” and “use your data to justify apocalyptic predictions WHENEVER possible!”

As academics primarily concerned with the social sciences, we realize that most of our members have little to no access to or experience with sharks, particularly those whose universities are not situated near bodies of water. As such, we encourage the submission of studies with findings and conclusions that could, at least theoretically, be applied to human/shark relationships. Of particular interest are studies dealing with the psychological processing of fear and/or pain, studies exploring psychological coping mechanisms employed after a person sustains severe bodily harm/disfigurement, studies examining the decision-making processes involved in assisting others in peril, and experimental studies relating to new methods of overcoming long-held phobias. Please also note that studies with incomplete results or results not in accordance with this year’s theme will be forwarded to The Discovery Channel’s Shark Relevance Team, who will then adapt or complete the results and discussion sections in a way they feel will generate maximum viewer interest. Discovery Channel writers also maintain the right to edit any sections of proposals that they feel are too academic, do not mention sharks often enough, or otherwise aren’t compelling/comprehensible to their viewership demographics. By submitting your proposal, you are tacitly agreeing to such edits should they be necessary.

At least one author of any accepted paper must attend the conference to present the paper. The Discovery Channel has stipulated that the most attractive of a paper’s listed authors must present and has even agreed to pay for the travel and lodging of academics whom their Appeal Team designates as “exceptionally attractive.” As such, photographs of all listed authors must accompany each submission (see page 6 of the submission requirements document for photograph specifications). If no authors of an accepted paper are deemed attractive enough to present, The Discovery Channel will provide a surrogate presenter, to whom one of the paper’s authors is expected to explain the findings of their study. Also note that, according to this year’s APA/Discovery Channel revised rules and regulations, all presentations must be accompanied by a visual aide—preferably video, though photos are acceptable as well. The Discovery Channel has graciously agreed to pay for any and all color printing/copying or video editing required by accepted participants. Furthermore, though data tables are not prohibited, they are strongly discouraged this year, as Discovery’s Appeal Team claims that they are often overwhelming and generally detract from viewer enjoyment.

In addition to accepting proposal submissions, we are also accepting applications from people interested in serving as session chairs or in volunteering to help run the conference. As is the case for presenting authors, session chairs are expected to be both photogenic and articulate. Though some level of discipline-specific expertise is preferred in session chairs, more important this year is the ability to condense discussions into six-second sound bytes that The Discovery Channel can splice into Shark Week @ APA commercials and YouTube advertisements.

All volunteers will be given free admission to the conference, plus an APA/Shark Week 2014 gift bag, which includes our annual conference t-shirt (this year’s shirt is yellow with the phrase SHARK WEEK @ APA in black lettering on the front and EVEN ACADEMIA ISN’T SAFE! on the back), a rubberized shark desk toy, a two-disc DVD compilation entitled The Very Best of Shark Week, an event program, some supplemental literature about the history of APA, a full-color wall poster of Great White Shark with fun facts listed, and an APA/Shark Week commemorative pen.

We here at APA thank you in advance for your submission. The quality of our annual conference depends upon not only the expert contributions of psychological researchers from a variety of disciplines but also the considerable influx of cash being provided by The Discovery Channel. Again, the sponsorship funds raised this year will ensure the viability of APA conferences for at least the next three years, so please submit. If you have any questions, please email either or

Finally, if you all would just subscribe to more of our journals and willingly fork over membership dues, we won’t have to do this again in the future.