Posted on December 7, 2022

Prestigious Psych Journal Cans Editor for Soliciting Criticism of Black Psychologist

Aaron Sibarium, Washington Free Beacon, December 6, 2022

The editor in chief of one of the world’s most prestigious psychology journals, Perspectives on Psychological Science, resigned on Tuesday after the board of directors of the journal’s publisher demanded he step aside—or be fired—for soliciting academic criticism of a black psychologist.

The editor, the prominent German psychologist Klaus Fiedler, stirred up controversy by agreeing to publish trenchant critiques of a 2020 article by Steven Roberts, a black psychologist at Stanford University, who had argued, among other things, that “color-blind leadership” promotes “structural inequality.”

That led to a petition, published December 2 and signed by over 1,000 psychologists, that called for Fielder’s dismissal and, shortly thereafter, to an email from Robert Gropp, the executive director of the Association for Psychological Science (APS), which publishes the journal, arguing that Fiedler had violated the journal’s “diversity and inclusion policies,” according to an email obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. Gropp demanded that Fiedler resign or, he said, “the APS will move forward with terminating your editorship.”


Though Roberts, the Stanford psychologist, was invited to reply to the critiques, which are forthcoming with the journal, he pulled his paper after becoming convinced that the debate was “rigged” against him, he told the Chronicle of Higher Education. He then published the paper on a preprint service, PsyArXiv, on December 2, along with his email exchanges with Fiedler, which he claimed provided evidence of his unfair treatment—and, he implied, of Fiedler’s own racism.


In one exchange, Fiedler had suggested that Roberts remove a passage attacking one of his critics, Lee Jussim of Rutgers University, for quoting a line from Fiddler on the Roof: “There was the time he sold him a horse, but delivered a mule.” Roberts claimed that the line “parallels people of color with mules,” making it a “well-documented racist trope used to dehumanize people of color.” Jussim’s paper, which was reviewed by the Free Beacon, had used it as a metaphor for academics who promise diversity of all sorts but focus excessively on race.