The 71st Congress of Serbian Psychologists took place on 24-27 May 2023, in the Palić Students’ Resort.
The central theme of the Congress was “New Horizons of (Cyber)Psychology.” This topic was chosen with the intention of considering the intricate details of the functioning in a hybrid (physical and cyber) space, where more and more activities are taking place, such as education, work, daily personal and social activities, and how the virtual affects people’s psychological life. In addition to the main topic, the Congress program also included several very specific topics that represent new fields of professional engagement of psychologists, such as psychological aspects of infertility or transgenderism. Unfortunately, violence came up as topical, especially because of the crisis after the two tragic events in Serbia. Like every year, sessions topics included different branches of psychology, such as social, developmental, clinical, educational, organizational and psychology of individual differences.
Around 150 active participants took part in the realization of the congress activities – presenting research papers. The Congress gathered around 260 participants in total, many of which were audience participants (without submitted papers), contributing to informative and productive discussions.
Two themes ran through the discussions of the participants of almost all congress activities:
- In all sessions concerned with (cyber)psychology, the conclusion was that all of the problematic behaviors in cyber space are brought from the (actual) physical space by people participating in the virtual activity. If the Internet has a bad influence on individuals, it happens mainly because they have not developed the appropriate constructive mechanisms for dealing with and processing unfavorable influences even in the real, physical world. However, excessive exposure to the digital environment contributes to the fact that we neglect the development of some skills (social, cognitive, motor), as well as the activities that are of key importance for the overall development (play, for example). Therefore, it is necessary to find a balance between the time spent in the digital environment and the kind of activities we engage in there.
- Another general conclusion is that in almost all the systems, psychologists are expected to solve problems and intervene in crisis situations. This is confirmed by the current crisis situation in Serbia. However, such engagement of psychologists neither solves the problems that led to the crisis, nor does it represent the essence of this profession. The essence of the professional engagement of psychologists should be in preventive activities and providing support for the mental health and overall development of individuals, in order to support their well-being, as well as the well-being of the entire community.