Late one night in 1927, in the basement of the psychology department in the University of Kansas, students Fredrick Lewis and Edwin Newmann discussed the fact that there was no national honor society to distinguish exemplary students in their field. The two men devised a committee to survey major colleges and universities, to determine the status of psychology students' associations and the degree of interest in establishing a national honor society in psychology. After reading the responses of these surveys, the committee concluded that there was a need for the organization, and an assembly was called at the APA convention at Columbia University in December, 1928 to discuss the matter. The outcome of this meeting was the establishment of the National Council for a Psychological Fraternity, whose task was to develop a plan of organization.
Almost immediately, members of the council began working on a constitution, and in May, 1929, the constitution was tentatively approved. Final acceptance took place at the first national meeting held on September 4, 1929, at the Ninth International Congress of Psychology held at Yale University. Thus, it was here at Yale that Psi Chi became a formally established organization.
Psi Chi serves two major goals--one immediate and visibly rewarding, the other slower and more difficult to accomplish, but offering greater rewards in the long run. The first of these is the Society’s obligation to provide academic recognition to its inductees by the mere fact of membership. The second goal is the obligation of each of the society’s local chapters to nurture the spark of that accomplishment by offering a climate congenial to its creative development. Overall, Psi Chi hopes to encourage, stimulate and maintain excellence in scholarship and advance the science of psychology.