Drenth, P., Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands
Subject of this paper is the "relevance" of W& psychology for decision making in government and industry. It is pointed out that relevance has many faces and is more than "contribution to economic growth". Three dimensions are distinguished in the relevance space: intrinsic relevance, instrumental relevance, and contributive relevance. With respect to the latter (the extent to which the contribution leads to better standpoints, judgment, and decision making by govermental and industrial decision makers), it can be defended and demonstrated that W& psychology has an important contribution to make. This is not to say that always an optimal use is being made of the acquired insights. A number of reasons why this is the case will be brought forward and discussed, including the contra- intuitive character of many research results, the lack of sufficient or conclusive research results, the insufficient distinction made by social scientists between research results and their personal/political opinions, the influence of pseudo-scientific views, the unwillingness on the part of the decision makers to accept empirical evidence, and the overpowering influence (right or wrong) of personal, moral or political considerations of decision makers. Not only do we see frequent negligence of psychological insights in decision making, an equally or even more disturbing phenomenon is the abuse of social and behavioural scientific research findings. There has been a time that the scientist was not so much concerned with problems of the use and application of research findings: 'science tells us how the world is, not how it should be'. This view has generally been replaced by the scientists' (and especially the behavioural scientists') concern about ethical and social consequences of their research and the application of their findings. But the question is, how far does this responsibility go, and where do we draw the line?