The pre-history of the Oklahoma Psychological Society (OPS) began in 1975 with the initiation of the Central State University Undergraduate Psychology Colloquium organized by Dr. Bill Fredrickson. Dr. Fredrickson wanted to create a student-friendly mini-convention for Central State University (CSU) undergraduate experimental psychology students to practice presenting papers in preparation for other state and regional conventions. Dr. Fredrickson and another faculty member, Dr. David Chance, had attended the University of Oklahoma (OU) when Dr. Muzafer Sherif chaired the department of psychology. Dr. Sherif was very well-known, in part due to his famous "Robber's Cave" study, and was visiting the state at about the time the colloquium was scheduled. When Dr. Sherif agreed to be the featured speaker, Drs. Fredrickson and Chance decided to invite other universities to attend. The following year's speaker was Dr. Roger Fouts, a very dynamic young researcher who had recently arrived at OU with psychology's most famous chimpanzee, Washoe Pan satyrs. Needless to say, both of these featured speakers attracted large audiences.
However, Dr. Fredrickson was concerned that such well-known speakers were detracting from what was most important about the conference--highlighting the work of students. For this reason, Dr. Fredrickson and Dr. Chance decided that the next speaker would be someone less recognizable. Through an unusual set of circumstances, Dr. Mike Knight met a young professor from Stanford University at the Southwestern Psychological Association conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dr. Phillip Zimbardo collaborated with Dr. Floyd Ruch in authoring the most popular general psychology textbook at that time, and Dr. Zimbardo had recently completed a controversial experiment using students as prisoners and guards in a mock prison study. This study was the subject of his talk at the 1977 colloquium. Dr. Zimbardo became a good friend of students and faculty in Oklahoma and returned twice more (in 1999 and 2004) as the featured speaker of what became the annual conference of the Oklahoma Psychological Society. Past became prologue as many featured speakers became an integral part of this conference.
In 1979, the Oklahoma Psychological Association (OPA) created separate divisions, including the Division of Health Service Providers, the OPA Student Division, and the Division of Academic and Research Psychologists (DARP). Because the OPA conference was always held in the fall and emphasized continuing education workshops and training seminars more than scientific psychological research, DARP and the OPA Student Division decided to merge with the CSU colloquium and organize a spring conference that would focus more exclusively on research.
From 1982 to 1994, the conference was called the OPA Spring Conference to Encourage and Develop Psychological Research. In 1989, however, many academic and research psychologists became dissatisfied with the American Psychological Association (APA) as a national organization (i.e., the organization under which OPA is an affiliate) and formed the American Psychological Society (APS). Many of the members of DARP gravitated to the newly created affiliate, the Oklahoma Psychological Society (OPS). In the 1990s, the spring conference of DARP and the OPA Student Division changed from the OPA Spring Conference to Encourage and Develop Research, to the OPS/OPA Spring Conference, to the OPS/OPA Student Division Spring Conference, and finally the OPS Spring Research Conference. Today, this conference is known simply as the annual conference of the Oklahoma Psychological Society.
Past conferences have included speakers such as Dr. Muzafer Sherif (Penn State University), Dr. Roger Fouts (the University of Oklahoma), Dr. Phillip Zimbardo (Stanford University), Dr. Gene Walker (the University of Oklahoma-Health Sciences Center), Dr. Lynn Devenport (the University of Oklahoma), Dr. Barbara Bonner (the University of Oklahoma-Health Sciences Center), Dr. C Richard Potts (the University of Oklahoma), Dr. Sara Nixon (the University of Oklahoma-Health Sciences Center), Dr. Robert Sternberg (Yale University), Dr. Steven Davis (Emporia State University), Dr. David Buss (the University of Texas at Austin), Dr. Mike Mumford (the University of Oklahoma), Dr. Lewis Barker (Auburn University), Dr. Daryl Bem (Cornell University), Dr. John Bargh (the City University of New York), Dr. James Kalat (the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Dr. Shawn Roberson (private practice forensic psychologist), Dr. Dan McAdams (Northwestern University), and Dr. Robert Feldman (the University of Massachusetts).