What is it about?

Operational psychology is the the application of psychological science to the operational tasks and activities of national security, defense, and public safety. For all of its positive contributions to these important domains, critics have raised concerns about the ethics of psychology's role in support of the military, intelligence community, and law enforcement. Out of a desire to regulate and constrain practitioners, a group was formed in Brookline, MA who hastily drafted would-be practice guidelines for operational psychology. However, no operational psychologists were included in this process and members of the group lacked any expertise in the area for which they were designing guidelines. This article addresses these concerns and challenges the principles identified by the Brookline group.

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Why is it important?

Thoughtful critical thinking rests as a cornerstone of our profession. When we abandon the tools used to discern ethical decision making and professional conduct, the reputation of psychology and its practitioners carry the cost. The authors of the "Brookline Principles" appear to have done just this in their rush to judge and their desire to over-regulate applied practitioners of operational psychology.


The telos or purpose of psychology and its role in society is at stake. While some would suggest psychology's sole purpose is to promote the health and well-being of individuals, I would argue that it is also to promote the effectiveness of organizations and to be applied to the full spectrum of concerns facing society and nations.

Mark Staal

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Lies, statistics, and Brookline: A response to Soldz, Arrigo, Frakt, & Olson., Peace and Conflict Journal of Peace Psychology, July 2018, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/pac0000332.
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