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Article

Professionalization of Psychology in the Nordic Countries  

Petteri Pietikainen and Jesper Vaczy Kragh

The history of psychology in the Nordic countries has distinct similarities among the countries. For centuries, close cultural and scientific ties have existed between the five countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden). Almost without exception, early Nordic university psychologists were inspired by German experimental psychology of the late 19th century. It became an almost mandatory part of their training to study psychology in Wilhelm Wundt’s laboratory in Leipzig or at similar institutions in Germany. The German model also served as an inspiration for psychological laboratories, which were established in the Nordic countries from the late 1880s onward. The first chair in psychology was established in Denmark in 1919, when Alfred Lehmann was appointed professor at the University of Copenhagen, and during the next decades Sweden, Norway, and Finland, respectively, followed suit. Following the strong ethos of governmental social planning that was emphasized all over Western Europe in the postwar decades, Nordic psychologists aligned themselves with the state in general and with the formation of the (social-democratic) welfare state in particular. Throughout this era, applied psychology occupied a major role in psychology. At first, psychologists were engaged in “psychotechnics,” including aptitude testing, personnel selection, and vocational guidance and counseling. Then, in the postwar decades, clinical psychology became an increasingly important part of applied psychology. One could say that psychology was heavily engaged in the adjustment policy in working life, education, and counseling in all Nordic countries. At the turn of the millennium, Nordic psychology appeared to have more research into psychological disorders and psychophysiological and neuroscience research than the rest of the world, and less on educational psychology. Within the Nordic countries, Finland and Sweden form one cluster with higher proportions of psychophysiological studies, and Denmark and Norway another cluster with higher relative proportions of psychological articles dealing with health treatment and prevention. All the Nordic countries have a very high number of psychologists in relation to their populations, and psychologists have a visible societal role as “architects of adjustment” who help individuals to find their place in society.

Article

Forensic Psychology in Historical Perspective  

Heather Wolffram

Forensic psychology in the 21st century entails the application of psychology to all aspects of the criminal justice process. Forensic psychologists, therefore, are engaged in the theorization of offending, offender profiling, the psychology of testimony, investigative interviewing, the psychology of juries and judges, and psychological approaches to the punishment and treatment of offenders. Historically, however, forensic psychology, has been narrower in scope. Founded principally in Europe during the late 19th century as a response to the reform of criminal procedure and research on suggestion, which undermined confidence in witness credibility, forensic psychology was initially pursued by jurists and psychiatrists eager to understand the behavior of all those involved in the criminal justice process. While this ambition was pursued piecemeal by jurists throughout the early 20th century in their studies of guilty knowledge, judges, jurors, and investigators, the exigencies of the courtroom, soon saw the field become focused on the psychology of the witness, particularly the juvenile witness. Important, in this regard were the efforts of both European and American experimental psychologists, whose precarious position within universities at the fin de siècle saw them look for real-world applications for psychology and led them to campaign voraciously for the inclusion of psychological knowledge and psychological expertise in legal proceedings. Competition between several disciplines, including law, psychology, psychiatry, and pedagogy, over the role of psychological expert made the professionalization of this field difficult up until the Second World War. During the late 1940s and 1950s, however, not only did forensic psychology increasingly become the exclusive purview of psychologists, but the discipline’s scope began to expand. Notable in this regard was offender profiling, which emerged from the psychological analysis of war criminals and the application of the insights gained here to several high-profile criminal cases in the United States.

Article

Conservation and the Environment  

Adam R. Pearson and Matthew T. Ballew

Environmental sustainability, the long-term management and protection of earth’s resources and ecosystems, is increasingly recognized as a societal challenge shaped by human behavior at every level of social interaction, from neighborhoods to nations. Psychological perspectives on conservation, which have traditionally emphasized individual determinants of proenvironmental behavior (e.g., personal environmental concern), have begun to incorporate a more nuanced picture of the ways in which both individual and group-level processes can influence conservation efforts. In particular, research on social norms and identity-based influences suggests that social perceptions, such as beliefs about what actions are common and socially valued, can be more powerful drivers of conservation behavior than monetary incentives, proenvironmental appeals, or the ease of proenvironmental actions. Additional research has begun to incorporate cross-cultural perspectives and insights from diversity science and intervention science to better understand how different cultural orientations and social identity processes, such as those related to race, ethnicity, and social class, impact environmental decision-making. A new class of “wise” interventions that target psychological mechanisms that shape conservation behavior, such as interventions that incorporate normative feedback, target public behavior, or seek to alter daily routines during major life transitions, have proven especially effective at promoting sustained behavior change. Generally, behavioral interventions are more effective at promoting conservation behavior when they are tailored to the social context in which behavior occurs.

Article

History of Chinese Indigenous Psychology  

Olwen Bedford and Kuang-Hui Yeh

Chinese indigenous psychology (Chinese IP) requires that the researchers’ theories, concepts, methods, tools, and results explicitly incorporate the structures and processes of the studied psychological and behavioral phenomena as embedded in their original context. Chinese IP is distinct from mainstream psychology in that it generates and promotes a different kind of psychological knowledge and because it is open with respect to research paradigm. Chinese IP emerged in the mid-1970s in Taiwan. K. S. Yang is the key figure in its development. He recognized the disconnect between Western and Chinese ways of understanding human functioning and promoted Chinese IP as a way to address the particular problems encountered in Chinese societies. The broad variety of Chinese IP research can be roughly divided into three overlapping areas: general frameworks or approaches for conducting research on a variety of topics in Chinese societies, universal models of particular sociocultural concepts that may applied to any society, and investigation of concepts that have special meaning in Chinese societies, some of which adapt or bridge Western research with Chinese concepts. The ultimate goal of Chinese IP is to contribute to development of a human or global psychology, and Chinese IP researchers have proposed both bottom-up and top-down approaches to obtaining this goal. Chinese IP inherently questions the universality of mainstream psychology. This stance gives rise to numerous challenges for IP researchers including pressure from their own academic institutions to publish in high-impact journals that do not value indigenous research.

Article

Cognitive Psychology During the Cold War Era, 1955–1975  

Hunter Heyck

The first 30 years after the end of World War II saw marked changes in the discipline of psychology: in ideas and institutions, problems and practices, funders and philosophies. These changes can be grouped together and described as a new, “high modern” style of psychological science, a new style grounded in a new model of “man.” This new model of “man” cast humans as fundamentally forward-looking prediction machines rather than as past-governed stimulus-response machines or creatures of habit, instinct, or drives. According to this view, the past still matters to our decision-making, but in a new way: it informs our expectations—the futures we imagine—rather than determining our behavior or saddling us with half-remembered traumas. From this perspective, we use mental representations of the world to generate predictions about future states of that world, especially states that are contingent upon our actions. Even more, we are finite prediction machines in an infinite world. Our mental representations of the world, therefore, must simplify it, and since we have neither perfect knowledge nor perfect cognitive abilities nor unlimited time, our fundamental state is one of uncertainty. We are problem-solvers that depend upon information to adapt, survive, and thrive, but we live in a world in which that information, and the time necessary to make sense of it, is expensive.

Article

Ethics in Work and Organizational Psychology  

Joel Lefkowitz

Adequately appreciating any area of applied ethics necessarily begins with indispensable foundations from moral philosophy and moral psychology, which are the bases for understanding normative ethical principles. (Otherwise, one could be reduced to the rote memorization of a near-infinite list of “dos and don’ts.”) Personal and social values also are critical as they shape people’s conceptions of ethics and morality. (For example, what constitutes a harm or a wrong? What is the right thing to do?) Traditionally in moral philosophy there have been three ways of answering those normative questions: from deontology (determining what is permissible based on absolutist ethical principles of right and wrong); consequentialism (assessing which alternative is best because it produces the greatest good [or least harm] for all those affected); and virtue theory (being virtuous). Yet, they have all been shown to have weaknesses. For example, what happens when principles are contradictory? What counts as a good? Who determines what is a virtue? And situations sometimes lend themselves more readily to one or another approach, so prudence suggests understanding and being prepared to use all. A person experiences an ethical problem when faced with a choice that challenges one or more of their ethical principles, with potential significant impact on the well-being of others. Professionals often experience ethical dilemmas, which entail having to make uncomfortable choices—choices one would rather not have to make at all. It helps to be able to recognize the form or structure of the dilemma (e.g., contemplating a self-serving act that will harm others). What makes the situation painful is that the person is motivated to some appreciable degree to “do the right thing” (otherwise they wouldn’t be experiencing a “dilemma”). Professionals such as work and organizational psychologists (WOPs) encounter a variety of ethical challenges in the different venues in which they work—as educators, researchers, practitioners, and administrators. Recent empirical survey data concerning ethical situations experienced and reported by WOPs have become available, illustrating that variety. The process of ethics education and training ought to entail becoming familiar with one or more of the several decision-making models for facilitating ethical reasoning that are available in the professional literature.

Article

From Psychological Humanities to African Psychology: A Review of Sources and Traditions  

Augustine Nwoye

The purpose of the article is to trace the intellectual history of the new postcolonial discipline of African psychology. African psychology as currently conceptualized in universities in the South and other regions of Africa is a proud heir to a vast heritage of sound and extensive intellectual traditions and psychological scholarship on Africa and its peoples found scattered in the multiple disciplines of the humanities (anthropology, archaeology, literature, philosophy, religion, etc.). Even before and after the critical evolution that led to the emergence of African psychology as a new discipline situated in the departments of psychology in some forward-thinking African universities, the different fields of the humanities offered legitimate research and writings on the nature of the life of the mind and culture in pre- and postcolonial Africa. The article reviews the variety and changing psychological themes that occupied the attention of the African and Western humanists and intellectuals within and outside Africa. However, the great limitation of all psychological research and writings which constitute psychological humanities is that they could not and, indeed, are not meant to replace the legitimate role being played by African psychology as a fledgling postcolonial discipline and center of thought and scholarship. This fledgling discipline came into being to argue against and partner with Western psychology and the black psychology popularized in North America, with a view toward the enrichment of both Western and black psychological knowledge with new perspectives for understanding the psychology of Africans in continental Africa. The purpose of the article is to elaborate on these issues.

Article

A History of Pavlovian Science  

Gabriel Ruiz and Natividad Sánchez

Transnational historiography, which emerged in the 1990s, covers historical phenomena that transcend the boundaries of the nation-state, analyzing the processes of circulation, transformation and hybridization of scientific ideas and practices across national frontiers. When scientific knowledge flows between different countries, the ideas that emerge in one particular national context adapt to the new local contexts of their hosts, with their particular cultural, social, political and scientific traditions. In psychology, the transnational approach provides a productive theoretical framework capable of going beyond the traditional US-centered perspective that has dominated the historiography of psychology since the mid-20th century. This US-based historiography has, for example, interpreted the historical influence of I. P. Pavlov in terms of two main factors: his methodological contribution—the conditioned reflex—and the existence of a behaviorist tradition in the receptor psychology community. However, a more global analysis questions the need for these two elements and, at the same time, offers insights into the conditions that facilitated or hindered the flow of Pavlovian science beyond the United States. Thus, for example, between 1903 and 1970 the dissemination and appropriation of the Pavlovian science of conditioned reflexes took two different routes: in America, scientific aspects and factors dominated; whereas elsewhere, politics prevailed over science. This happened in countries such as China, Cuba, and Spain, with dictatorial regimes at different ends of the political spectrum, where Pavlov’s work arrived under the auspices of government programs to modernize scientific and clinical institutions. Once Pavlov’s ideas had been introduced through reform programs in each country, they were accepted or rejected depending on whether the sign of the regime in question converged with the ideology prevailing in the Soviet Union, which it did in China and Cuba, but not in Spain. In these countries, where psychology did not have strong institutional roots and behaviorism was not a dominant approach, Pavlovian ideas found a receptive audience among health professionals-doctors, psychiatrists, and clinical psychologists - keen to embrace new ideas and treatments for mental disorders. Thus, from a transnational perspective, the global repercussion of Pavlov’s ideas went far beyond the strictly methodological sphere.

Article

History of the History of Psychology  

Adrian C. Brock

Reflexivity has been a common theme in the literature on the history of psychology in recent years. Reflecting on the history of psychology is for historians of psychology the ultimate reflexive step. Germany is widely regarded as the homeland of “modern” or “scientific” psychology. It is here that the oldest surviving work with the word “psychology” in the title was published in 1590. It was also here that the first book with the title History of Psychology [Geschichte der Psychologie] was published in 1808. This reflects the fact that a substantial literature on psychology had already been published in Continental Europe by the end of the 18th century. Several other works on the history of psychology were published in German-speaking countries in the 19th century and in the years leading up to the First World War. English-speaking countries were relatively late in adopting psychology, but it grew rapidly in the United States when it was adopted, and the country was already the dominant power in the field by the outbreak of the First World War. Several works on the history of psychology were published in the United States around the same time, suggesting that disciplines and disciplinary history tend to appear simultaneously. This is because disciplines use their history to create a distinct identity for themselves. The history of psychology was widely taught in American psychology departments, and several textbooks were published to support these courses. E. G. Boring’s A History of Experimental Psychology (1929, 1950) was by far the most influential of these textbooks, and it has profoundly shaped the understanding of psychologists of the history of their field. For example, it was Boring who traced the history of the discipline to the establishment of Wilhelm Wundt’s laboratory for experimental psychology at the University of Leipzig in 1879. In 1979–1980, was widely celebrated as the “centennial” of psychology and the XXII International Congress of Psychology was held in Leipzig to mark the occasion. Prior to the 1960s, the history of psychology was mainly a pedagogical field, and it still is as far as many psychologists are concerned. However, it also became an area of specialization during this decade. This was partly due to a few psychologists adopting it as their main area of interest and partly due to historians of science becoming more interested in the field. A large body of scholarly literature has been produced, including some scholarly textbooks, but this literature exists side by side with more traditional textbooks for which there is still a significant demand. There are signs that the history of psychology has been facing difficulties as a branch of psychology in Europe and North America in recent years. However, interest in the field has been growing among psychologists in other parts of the world and among historians of science. This situation will inevitably have implications for the content of the field.

Article

Descartes’ Dualism of Mind and Body in the Development of Psychological Thought  

Deborah Brown and Brian Key

Few practitioners or researchers in psychology would think of the 17th-century French philosopher, René Descartes, as the founding father of their discipline. Yet, it is difficult to see how psychology could have emerged as a discipline in its own right without the contributions of Descartes. Descartes’ theoretical and experimental contributions to our understanding of rationality, consciousness, sensation, feeling, attention, psychological self-regulation and voluntary action, and indeed the very concept of mind that lies at the heart of his philosophy, have been pivotal to the evolution of psychology since its emergence as a special science in the 19th-century. These contributions tend to get overshadowed by the unpalatable aspects of his dualism of mind and body and his denial of animal consciousness, doctrines for which he was and still is much pilloried. However, both doctrines are relevant to understanding how from its inception the subject matter and scope of psychological investigation was framed, for underlying the Cartesian concept of mind is not one dualism but two: a dualism of mind and body and a dualism of life and mind. The mind, for Descartes, could not be theorized on its own terms without conceiving of it at least to some extent independently of the physiological processes of the human body, on the one hand, and the life functions of biological organisms, on the other. Descartes’ legacy for psychology as a discipline is thus twofold. It created the conceptual space for the concept of mind to emerge as a threshold concept in its own right, distinct from the concept of matter that defined mechanics, and it demarcated those uniquely human capacities that enabled psychology to differentiate itself from the newly emerging evolutionary biology of the 19th-century, even though it would remain more closely aligned with biology than physics thenceforth. Without both dualisms of mind and body and life and mind, it is difficult to envisage how psychology as a special science distinct from anatomy and the life sciences could have emerged, and for this the discipline of psychology owes Monsieur Descartes a considerable debt.

Article

Wilhelm Wundt: Psychology and Philosophy in Interaction  

Saulo de Freitas Araujo

Wilhelm Wundt (1832–1920) is one of the most famous names in the history of psychology. After passing into oblivion for nearly 60 years, in recent decades he has been celebrated in general psychology textbooks as the founding father of scientific psychology. However, this traditional portrait is incomplete and can lead to misunderstandings, as his psychological program is primarily understood in terms of experimental psychology. In order to complete this traditional picture, two aspects of his work must be emphasized and clarified: the role of Völkerpsychologie as the counterpart of experimental or individual psychology, and the interaction between his psychological program and his philosophical project. The ultimate meaning of Wundt’s conception of scientific psychology cannot be understood in isolation from his broader philosophical goals. Reading Wundt from the point of view of such interaction offers a deeper understanding of his work.

Article

Religion and Spirituality in Sport  

Ivo Jirásek

Religion, spirituality, and sport is an increasingly popular discipline in the sport psychology framework, often based on one’s own faith and religious beliefs. The spiritual dimension of the human experience first focused on religious and mystic experiences; later, various other states of mind, such as peak experiences, flow, and “being in the zone,” were discussed using the framework of humanistic and positive psychology, including in the context of sports. Human movement activities were part of religious cults and rites in ancient societies, for example in the Greek Olympic Games. Thanks to this tradition, the father of the modern Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin, wrote about religio athletae when discussing the transcendent aspects of modern sport. Contemporary sport is not connected to religion in such a direct way, however. The modern athlete normally follows his or her own religious tradition in a private manner. This does not mean, however, there is no connection between religion and sport. On the contrary, religious and quasi-religious behavior is commonly found in the sport environment, including superstitious rituals of athletes and fans, prayer in sporting areas, and application of non-Christian practices in sports psychology consulting. Furthermore, deeper values and meanings can be attributed to sport activities as a kind of nonreligious spirituality. It is possible to observe an increasing interest in the religious and spiritual aspects of sports in the new millennium, which can be seen in the establishing of specific professions like sport psychologists or chaplains, as well as university centers for the study of religion and spirituality in sport.

Article

Causal Attribution  

Ahogni N'gbala and Denis Hilton

Attribution theory is an area of research in social psychology, which deals with how people perceive and interpret the causes of their own and others’ behavior. Attributional theory deals with how the observer’s causal perceptions and interpretations guide his/her own subsequent behavior. In recent years, work in the area has been broadened to include new theoretical models concerned with the explanation of intentional behaviors and responsibility, and blame assignment, along with counterfactual thinking, where mental simulations of changes in the causal structure of events have been shown to affect emotional reactions. As such attribution(al) theory overlaps with research in cognitive, developmental, and moral psychology, and its concepts have been applied to a wide variety of domains such as clinical psychology, marketing, and organizational behavior.

Article

Time Perception in Development  

Yarden Kedar

Time is an abstract, unobservable, multifaceted, and elusive concept, whose nature has long posited a major challenge in philosophical and scientific thought. Nonetheless, despite the fact that time is not directly perceived by our senses, a universal human experience of time does exist. People are aware of time passing by; seek ways to measure it; arrange their lives around different timelines; and constantly use verbal expressions referring to time. A key question in developmental science is when and how children develop a sense and a concept of time. Infants are equipped from birth with perceptual time-tracking mechanisms for detecting patterns and changes in the physical environment, and their biological clocks reach an adult-like level already at 3 months of age. Infants have been shown to accurately register the recency, duration, frequency, and rhythmic aspects of events. Infants also gradually become more attuned to inter-sensory (visual/auditory/tactile) temporal relations based on co-occurrences of synchrony, duration, rate, and rhythm. These early abilities establish the foundation for the emergence of a metacognitive awareness and conceptualization of time in later stages of development. Several cognitive components such as attention, memory, and language are crucial in producing and maintaining our subjective perception of time. Additional factors include the social and cultural practices of time, which determine our time perspective and time perception. Verbal interactions relating to time between parents and their children aid the child in grasping distinctions between the past, present, and future, and between proximate and remote past and future times.