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Acronyms: SIOP’s Worst Enemy

2009 October 1
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by Richard N. Landers
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As I mentioned before, the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology is once again considering changing its name.  The reasons are varied, but ultimately come down to two major themes: 1) “industrial” is an archaic term that just confuses outsiders and 2) it’s too long.

We’ve been down this road before – a name change effort just a few years ago due to what many consider to be measurement problems. You see, they just put SIOP along side all of the other choices and had people pick their favorite.  The problem?  No majority – everyone wanted something different.  The approach this time is to first vote on the favorite alternate to SIOP, and then pit that favorite alternative against “SIOP” – a two-stage vote.

You’d think that a bunch of Ph.D.’s with extensive training in psychometric measurement could design a single vote.

But anyway, official voting has started.  Here are the choices:

  • The Society for Organizational Psychology (TSOP, pronounced tee-sop), on the list because no one wanted the organization to be called “sop”
  • The Society for Work Psychology (SWP, which I pronounce swip)
  • Society for Work and Organizational Psychology (SWOP, which I pronounce swap)

I thought it might be a useful exercise to list the other organizations and techniques that share these names, courtesy of Acronym Finder:

  • SIOP
    Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol
    Single Integrated Operational Plan (US military)
    International Society of Pediatric Oncology (SIOP, in French)
  • TSOP
    The Sound of Philadelphia
    The Society for Organic Petrology
    The Speed of Pain (by Marilyn Manson)
  • SWP
    Socialist Workers Party (uh-oh)
    State Water Project
    Systematic Withdrawal Plan
    South Wales Police
  • SWOP
    Sex Workers Outreach Project (Australia)
    Sociology of Work Programme
    Special Weapons Operating Procedure (US military again)

I think I will just let that list speak for itself.

Whatever name SIOP ultimately chooses, it’s important to remember it’s not the name that’s important – it’s what you do with it.  And no number of identity crisises and the resulting votes can ever fix that.

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