All About the American Psychological Association (APA)

The American Psychological Association is world-renowned. In addition, it plays a role in the definition of the standards for publishing research.
All About the American Psychological Association (APA)

Last update: 27 May, 2021

The American Psychological Association is one of the institutions responsible for setting the standards of the psychology discipline. However, it does a lot more than that.

Today’s article will show you what the APA is all about, how it originated, and what it does. With this, you’ll be able to understand the importance of its functions, as well as its role in regulating proper professional conduct.

“The pendulum of the mind oscillates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong.”

-Carl Gustav Jung-

The function of the American Psychological Association and its origin

APA stands for the American Psychological Association, a professional and scientific organization. Its advances and guidelines are acknowledged worldwide. In fact, the APA is one of the most influential authorities in psychology.

This association arose in July 1892 with 31 members and grew considerably after World War II. Today, it’s the biggest scientific organization that represents psychology, especially in the United States. Furthermore, it has 18,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants, and students and is divided into 54 branches of psychology.

A person undergoing therapy.

The first president of the APA was G. Stanley Hall and the first meeting was held at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, the APA’s governance structure consisted of a council with an executive committee. Now it has a Council of Representatives with a board of directors.

The American Psychological Association arose due to some changes that took place in the United States:

  • The emergence of academic disciplines rapidly led to advanced degrees. In addition, they provided credentials to validate members of the disciplines as experts.
  • Progressive political movement. A less corrupt and more efficient social order.

The APA emerged from the synergy of two processes: specialization, coupled with the need for consensus, and streamlined government. In addition, these helped create the need for trained personnel for the new professional niches demanded by a more efficient society.

The American Psychological Association in professional practice

APA promotes the advancement of psychology to benefit society. Its main function is the development of psychology, both as a science and as a profession. To this end, it:

  • Encourages research in psychology.
  • Stimulates the study of psychology in all its branches.
  • Disseminates psychological knowledge through congresses, symposiums, articles, news, etc.
  • Facilitates the maintenance and establishment of professional ethics.
  • Promotes the improvement of high capacities in professionals dedicated to psychology.

The APA currently has 54 divisions. These are organized interest groups that deal with the various areas. Some represent sub-disciplines of psychology, while others focus on particular fields in a more general way (aging, trauma and ethnic minorities, etc.).

Both APA members and non-members can apply to join the divisions. Here are some of them:

  • General Psychological Association.
  • Society for Educational Psychology.
  • Developmental Psychology.
  • Society for Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology.
  • Sports psychology.
  • Social and personality psychology.
  • Educational psychology.
  • Division of rehabilitation psychology.
  • Group psychology and psychotherapy.
Two people talking.

APA in writing

The American Psychological Association has a resource for writing and publishing in the social and behavioral sciences. This tool is called APA style. In fact, the APA Publication Manual contains its rules. It provides a guide for detailing the scientific support behind the information in any publication. In addition, it contains frequently asked questions and other resources to help the writing and publishing process.

The APA style aims to ensure that there’s fluid communication in academic and scientific publications. To this end, it has a manual that helps master and learn the conventions of publication.

Furthermore, this style was developed in 1929 by a group of social scientists who wanted to establish communication standards. Moreover, the APA style has been adopted by leaders in various fields and used by many writers around the world since then. Indeed, the publication manual contains the history of the manual and usage instructions. In addition, it describes the role of ethics in publishing and offers a guide to good practice.

Moreover, it discusses what the structure and content of a manuscript should look like. Also, how to write clearly and concisely, what the style mechanics are, and how to be effective using figures and tables. In addition, it contains a guide on how to cite references within and at the end of texts. Furthermore, it contains examples and points out the responsibilities of the author and anyone who publishes the manuscripts.

In conclusion

The APA is important for psychology worldwide because it establishes ethical and professional standards that govern the performance of psychologists and other associated professions. In addition, it’s sensitive to the spontaneous changes that arise in the discipline.

It might interest you...
The Origin of Psychology: History, Authors, and Models
Exploring your mindRead it in Exploring your mind
The Origin of Psychology: History, Authors, and Models

Thanks to psychology, we have a deeper understanding of our own knowledge. But have you ever wondered about the origin of psychology?



  • Dewsbury, D.A. (1997). On the evolution of divisions. American Psichologist, 52. 733-741.
  • Fernberger, S.W.(1932).The American Psychological Association: A Historial Perspective. Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association.
  • American Psychological Association. Apa style. Recuperado de: www.apastyle.apa.org.
  • American Psychological Association. Recuperado de: www.apa.org