Academic psychologists from the Universities of Colombo, Galle, Kelaniya, Peradeniya and the Open University are coming together to discuss the formation of professional association of psychologists at a conference at the University of Peradeniya on November 7, the organisers said.
Dr. Shamala Kumar, one of the organisers and Senior Lecturer in Business Psychology, Department of Agricultural Economics and Business Management, University of Peradeniya, said in Sri Lanka, psychology is a fledgling field. “We have many who are interested in the field, but have little systematically collected knowledge of 'Sri Lankan' psychology. As the needs and interests of Sri Lankans may be different to those of American academics, it would seem natural that the research they conduct and the areas in which they practise will be different.”
For instance, he says, research from South Asia seems to be much more focused on work and family well-being and other areas where the focus is predominantly on the health of the employee with far less on how it affected organisationally relevant outcomes such as performance. In the US, in contrast, the research emphasises issues such as increasing performance through improved reward systems, motivational programmes, and effective leadership. This contrast suggests that different areas of the world tend to stress different areas of psychology as important, he said.
“We are a nation engaged in a protracted civil war, have undergone a devastating tsunami, where poverty confronts us on a daily basis, where citizens talk multiple languages, where the number of PhD level psychologists is far too few. In this backdrop, what areas of psychology should we stress? Would psychology in Sri Lanka include areas that are not included in APA’s 56 divisions? In other words, what is psychology in the Sri Lankan context? “ he asked.
The American Psychology Association (APA) is the principal sponsor of the event. Additionally, the British Psychological Society, the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies (CHA), Oxford Psychometrics, SriLankan Airlines and the Brandix Group of Companies are helping in the event.