The Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition is dedicated to encouraging and promoting the very best research in our field. The purpose of the Society is to enhance collaboration and co-operation between basic and applied researchers in memory and cognition. Every two years, we showcase the latest work in a wide and varied program that's sure to intrigue you. SARMAC is also known for our active, friendly community. If you're not a member, we hope you join us.
SARMAC was officially founded in 1994 at the third Practical Aspects of Memory conference held at the University of Maryland, but the formation of the society can be traced back even further. Before SARMAC, perhaps the most popular (and according to some, the only) conference for applied cognitive research was the PAM conference. However, PAM conferences were only held about once a decade, meaning that it was difficult to share and discuss new applied research, paradigms, and theories outside of the traditional, slow-moving peer review process. For example, the debate over the scholarly contribution of applied research sparked by Banaji and Crowder’s influential 1989 paper in the American Psychologist, was held via published rebuttals spanning several years. At the time, basic and applied cognitive research were seen in some ways as being at odds with each other, with researchers in each camp wondering how useful the other was. If the two approaches were to come together, sporadically-held conferences and communication through publication did not seem the best way forward.
Thus, the need for SARMAC was two-fold; a society that could hold conferences far more often than PAM, as well as a community that could provide interconnectivity and resources for applied and basic cognitive researchers between those conferences. But SARMAC was not formed overnight; when planning for PAM III began, some thought it would do well to be held in the USA, rather than the UK as was PAM I and PAM II. A group of members approached Professor Douglass Herrmann, who enthusiastically took a lead role in planning PAM III for a 1994 meeting. At the 1993 meeting of the Psychonomic Society, attendees began drumming up interest for a new society with a membership drive, and a year later at 1994’s PAM III, SARMAC was formed by some prominent names in cognitive psychology—including Professor Herrmann, as well as Chuck Thompson, Graham Davies, David Burrows, David Payne, Ron Okada, Roy Malpass, Michael Gruneberg, Daryl Bruce, Michael Toglia, and Don Read. Some of these went on to serve on SARMAC’s inaugural leadership – Herrmann as the first Chair, Thompson as the Chair-Elect, David Burrows as the Executive Director, Daryl Bruce as the Membership Secretary, and Michael Toglia as SARMAC’s Press Officer. Others (Gruneberg, Davies and Read) were joined on the Board of Governors by Marcia Johnson, David Rubin, Kathy Pezdek and Gene Winograd.
Today, SARMAC still holds true to its founding goals. The biennial conferences are attended by many who see them as the highlight of the year, and a reunion of sorts with close colleagues. Indeed, in a 1993 paper entitled “The Need to Expand the Horizons of the Practical Aspects of Memory Movement,” Herrmann and Gruneberg discuss the potential for advancing cognitive science when basic, ecological, and applied research communicate and facilitate research amongst each other, rather than view themselves in separate fields. The line from this approach to modern SARMAC’s practice of engaging research that is both practically applicable and theoretically grounded is clear. Members from all career stages present research that is theoretically grounded with practical applications across a wide variety of topics.
To learn more about SARMAC's founding, see:
Crozier, W. E., Moeck, E. K., Weinsheimer, C. C., McDonald, D. L. L., Baldassari, M. J. (2016). A history of the Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 5, 103-109.