President’s Column: Primum non nocere, First, Do No Harm

Conestoga wagon pulled by two oxen; wagon has words "Denver or Bust 2016" on the side.

Conestoga Wagon Line Drawing: courtesy of Pearson Scott Foresman (

Mary Gregerson

Mary Gregerson

Mary Gregerson, PhD

Primum non nocere, Latin for “first, do no harm,” is one half of the bioethics of the Hippocratic Oath, the other part being “to do good.” “Doing good” has been a recent theme for APA Division 46 The Society for Media Psychology & Technology (see Amplifier Spring/Summer 2015). What, though, of “doing no harm?”  Are there ways we can challenge each other to “do no harm” in our everyday lives and professional enterprises?

Right now APA members are challenged to examine carefully this bio-ethic, to operationalize it in everyday dealings as well as under extraordinary circumstances. How can we be good stewards of the profession and avoid even inadvertent harm to ourselves and to others?   In this daily challenge Division 46, in particular, has an unusual mandate as arbiters of cultural and individual matters concerning media psychology and technology.

Today in America as our use of technology continues to increase, evolve, and adapt, it becomes more and more a predominant part of our society and culture. With technology looming large, how can we both ”do good” and “do no harm?” Technology interfacing ever more intricately with our daily living produces global connectivity on a level exceeding what used to be worldwide concern for extraordinary occurrences.  Now the concern is more immediate and intimate. Truly, today we inhabit what Marshall McLuhan envisioned as “a global village.” We live there now!

We are Pioneers

Like the conestoga wagon carrying my great-grandmother from central Illinois to central Kansas, today the electrical means of modern technology transport Division 46 Board and members to far parts of the globe. In our living rooms, we experience Pakistan, New Zealand, and China. Similar to the cataclysmic cultural changes from the Industrial Revolution over 200 years ago, the advent today of future technology leads America to a world “where no man [sic] has gone before,” ironically the mission theme for the television and film series Star Trek (Goldstone, 1966). As with all pioneers, our mission is fraught with great peril and the promise of great reward. So hop on the roller coaster …

Depiction of rollercoaster using words about Division 46

Three ways Division 46 pioneers in 2016: Meetings, Awards, and Programming. 

Pioneering New Modes of Meetings. This year the Board is experimenting with monthly videoconference Special Meetings, each with a singular theme. It is hoped that an ongoing dialogue over the entire year will afford continuity of oversight and foster Division cohesion.  At the end of the year, we will see whether or not we accomplished goals identified at the outset and those that emerged as we dialogued.

At the outset of 2016, videoconferencing was selected to communicate in the mid-Winter and Special Meetings. Then, at the Mid-Winter meeting, we learned that the Annual Meetings of the Elected Board and All Members would conflict with Thursday afternoon with Frank Farley’s Conversation Hours with Albert Bandura, Aaron Beck, and Noam Chomsky organized Division 48 Peace Psychology.  So, we welcomed the opportunity to hold all meetings via videoconference, including the Annual Board and Members Meetings, before the Convention.  At the Convention, we can then attend as a group the Conversation Hours of Bandura, Beck, and Chomsky.  If any APA group can primum non nocere, that is, do no harm by reconciling satisfactorily possible schedule conflicts, the Division of Media Psychology & Technology will do so with assist from technology. Let us know how we are doing.

Pioneering new Modes of Awards Presentation: The week before the Conference, the videoconferenced Division 46 Annual Membership Meeting will set a new precedent to feature Member Recognition Awards and talks by honored recipients (we may invite recipients to “tweet” their acceptance speech) rather than at the Social Hours as has occurred in previous years. Other Divisions had found the change of venue for Awards and recipients’ remarks to the Membership Meeting draws more members to attend. At the first hour of the 2016 Division 46 Social Hour in Denver, CO, then, awards for the best posters by graduate and undergraduate students as well as early career psychologists will be presented along with featuring networking with Past Presidents. This experiment in streamlining new traditions invites your feedback on its success.

Pioneering new Modes of Programming at the 2016 Annual Conference:  A variety of new happenings pepper our Annual Conference gatherings and opportunities.  We have planned two back-to-back Social Hours, instead of one, as has been the tradition.  The first Social Hour features “Posters of Excellence” in one room.  In an adjoining room many Division 46 Past Presidents are expected to be present which will foster informal networking.  The two adjoining rooms permit free flow between both professional discussions around the posters as well as informal networking in the adjoining space where high tea offerings will spice up the first Social Hour.  The second Social Hour features hands-on robotics demonstrations that will both astound and delight in one room and liquid refreshments will be available in the other room where informal networking will continue.

Substantive programs range from traditional fare like symposia, paper sessions, and poster sessions balanced with a more innovative format. A Town Hall on the human side of technology in the U.S. Army aims to foster rebuilding good will between the military and psychology. An inaugural Past Presidents’ Symposium we hope will become a tradition in future conventions. Besides standard concerns of tele-health and health psychology applications, newer societal concerns like mass shootings and the media as well as entertainment psychology appear throughout the Division 46 program. Participants include, among others, early career, mid-career, and emeriti media and technology psychologists, undergraduate and graduate students, non-psychology professionals associated with media, social science analysts, educators, public health officials, active duty military, and government officials.

Finally, we will have a Hospitality Suite in the Sheraton Downtown Denver Hotel for informal networking and socializing. Ideas being considered for this venue are karaoke, a mini-film festival, an Instagram scavenger hunt, live streaming body cam viewing of select members’ convention experiences, special receptions for allied groups like the Media First Responder Corps and the APA Division Leaders, and general relaxing/enjoying each other.  Other ideas are welcome as well.  If there are some media and technology related activities you would like considered, please contact Program Co-Chairs June Wilson ( and Kathryn Stamoulis (, or contact me directly to discuss your ideas (

See you in Denver!


Goldstone, J. (Director, 1966). Where no man has gone before. Second pilot episode of Star Trek series. Los Angeles, CA: NBC and Desilu Studios.


One thought on “President’s Column: Primum non nocere, First, Do No Harm

  1. Pingback: Update on Media First Response Activities at the 2016 APA Convention | THE AMPLIFIER MAGAZINE

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