Rehab for Psychology Mag

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Science  14 May 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5417, pp. 1115
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5417.1115b

Having been transformed from a powerful voice on the science of the mind to a self-help mag, Psychology Today is about to get some therapy of its own. The bimonthly magazine's owners announced last week that they are bringing in psychologist and creativity researcher Robert Epstein to revamp a 32-year-old magazine that has gone from a 1.75-million circulation in 1975 to 400,000 today. Epstein says he hopes to “restore the authority and the credibility of the magazine.” The one on newsstands these days, says Alan Kraut of the American Psychological Society, is “a magazine version of Jerry Springer.”

A professor at United States International University in San Diego, Epstein has been associated with the magazine, owned by Sussex Publishing of New York, for a year as host of the Psychology Today radio show. As editor, he says, he won't allow any more Jackie Onassis spreads or hyped-up covers like that on the June issue (“Feel Great! Take Charge of Your World”). “As long as I'm running the magazine, there'll never be another cover like that,” he says. Instead, Epstein plans to commission stories by and about “top authorities” in psychology, with the mag's overall direction charted by a “blue-ribbon advisory board” of academic psychologists. The new look will debut with the September issue.

Psychologists are hoping Epstein's appointment marks a new era. “If it isn't a significant change of course, I will dissociate myself from it rather quickly,” says Duke University's Greg Kimble, a member of Epstein's panel who advised the magazine when the American Psychological Association owned it in the 1980s. Adds Kraut: “One can only hope this new incarnation will fulfill its earlier promise.”

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