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date: 24 February 2020

The Internationalization of Psychology: A History

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the origins and development of the international organizations and meetings that have sought to bring together psychologists from all over the world, principally the International Congresses of Psychology, which began in 1889 and are organized now by the International Union of Psychological Science, and the International Congresses of Applied Psychology, which began in 1920 and now are planned by the International Association of Applied Psychology. From its largely European origins, this chapter shows how psychology grew as an experimental and applied science to encompass psychological organizations in more than 100 countries today. The early congresses were a mix of experimental psychologists and parapsychologists, with the latter group forming their own group after 1905. The subsequent development of the international congresses is a story of science, applications, and world politics.

Keywords: International psychology, International Congress of Psychology, International Congress of Applied Psychology, parapsychology, International Union of Psychological Science, International Association of Applied Psychology, World War I, World War II

The International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS) was established in 1951, to serve as an organizing body for psychological societies and psychologists around the globe. Today, it boasts 71 member nations from Albania to Zimbabwe and thus, by member affiliation, represents most of the world’s psychologists, whether they are engaged in research, teaching, practice, or public service (see Appendix A). Yet, efforts to bring the world’s psychologists together are much older than the formation of the IUPsyS. This chapter traces the history of international psychology organizations, beginning in the late 19th century with the first of the international congresses.

The beginnings of this history reside in the creation of a new scientific discipline, namely psychology, a field that left the house of philosophy and sought to join the house of natural science. This elopement had been delayed by a host of naysayers who argued over centuries that a science of mind was not possible, that the study of mind could never achieve the level of objectivity needed to qualify as science. By the middle of the 1800s, that long-held view had been seriously challenged, for example, by John Stuart Mill (1843), who called for an empirical science of psychology, and by Wilhelm Wundt (1862, 1874), who called for and established an experimental science of psychology (Cattell, 1888). Wundt’s psychology laboratory was arguably the first on the scene but it was followed quickly by other laboratories in Germany, as well as labs in Denmark, Austria, England, and the United States.

As the new psychology laboratories emerged, some psychologists sought ways to bring their kindred researchers together. British psychologist Joseph Jacobs, recognizing the value of an international organization of psychologists called for (p. 2) the establishment of a “Society for Experimental Psychology.” Jacobs (1886) wrote:

This is the age of Societies. Agriculture and ballooning, cart-horses and dentistry, engineering and forestry, all subjects from A to Z, are represented by associations intended to promote the interests of each particular subject. Psychology alone has no society connecting together the workers in the wide field which the science of mind can claim for itself. (p. 49)

Although no international society existed in 1886 when Jacobs made his plea, there was at least one national society in France. La Société de Psychologie Physiologique was founded in Paris in 1885, by Jean-Martin Charcot and Charles Richet. The society was established to link the new experimental psychology with the work of Charcot at the Salpêtrière. The Société never achieved that end, however, and proved mostly to be a forum for papers on hypnosis. Shortly after Charcot’s death in 1893 it ceased to exist (Ellenberger, 1970). But in France in the late 1880s, plans for an international gathering of psychologists were taking form, and Charcot’s Société would host the meeting (see Françoise Parot, 2011, on France, Chapter 16, in this volume).

The First International Congress of Psychology

In the second half of the 19th century, international congresses in a wide number of fields were commonplace. Statisticians held their first such congress in 1853, physicians their first in 1867, and anthropologists their first in 1885 (Montoro, Tortosa, & Carpintero, 1992). The impetus for an international meeting of psychologists began with an article published in 1881, in a French journal (Nicolas & Söderlund, 2005). The author was a young Polish philosopher and parapsychologist, Julian Ochorowicz, who had earned a doctorate from the University of Leipzig in 1874 with a dissertation on the nature of consciousness. Evidently Ochorowicz was a friend of Théodule Ribot, who edited the Revue Philosophique, where he published his detailed proposal for an international congress of psychology. According to Sabourin (2001), Ribot was sympathetic to the idea but doubtful of its achievement. Yet, eight years later, the first International Congress of Psychology would meet in Paris, France, on the centennial of the French Revolution, the 10th anniversary of the opening of Wundt’s laboratory at the University of Leipzig, and in the midst of the grand World’s Fair being hosted in Paris.

The meeting began on August 6, 1889. Charcot served as the honorary president of the congress but did not attend the four-day event. Instead, the audience was welcomed by Ribot, who gave an opening lecture on the status of contemporary psychology. According to William James (1889), who was in attendance as one of the few Americans present, Ribot showed “in simple but impressive words how [psychology] advances by combining physiological and pathological observation and experiment with the older introspective method, and [urged] the investigators of all countries to share in the work now become common” (p. 614).

Ochorowicz was in attendance and must have been pleased to see the extraordinary culmination of his plan laid out so meticulously 8 years earlier. Nearly 400 individuals attended one or more of the sessions. Ochorowicz himself was involved in the sessions on parapsychological topics. Given William James’s involvement with psychical research (see Coon, 1992), it is interesting to read James’s description of this part of the congress:

The most striking feature of the discussions was, perhaps, their tendency to slope off to some one or the other of those shady horizons with which the name of “psychic research” is now associated. Amongst those who took a more active part in the debate may be named MM. Marillier, Gley, Binet, Pierre Janet, Bertrand, Espinas, Bernheim, Liègois, Ochorowicz … Delboeuf, Forel, Galton, Sidgwick, F. W. H. Meyers. (James, 1889,1889 p. 615)

Certainly, the mix of individuals at this congress was considerable, from physiologists to philosophers and from physicians to parapsychologists. And, there were a few representatives of the new psychology, including Joseph Jastrow from the United States and Hugo Münsterberg from Germany. Although the meeting was billed as an international congress, the overwhelming majority of attendees were from France. By James’s account, only three came from the United States, four from England, and three from Germany. The breakdown of attendees by country suggests that more than 300 were from France. It seems likely that some of that audience consisted of lay individuals interested in psychology, no doubt most of those interested in hypnosis and paranormal phenomena. So, mixed with Galton, James, Binet, and Ribot, one may have (p. 3) found mediums, seers, palm readers, mental healers, and mesmerists. James (1889) described the social importance of the congress:

The open results were, however (as always happens at such gatherings), secondary in real importance to the latent ones—the friendships made, the intimacies deepened, and the encouragement and inspiration which came to everyone from seeing before them in flesh and blood so large a part of that little army of fellow-students from whom and for whom all contemporary psychology exists. (p. 615)

For James, one of those social contacts was Hugo Münsterberg, whom James would invite 3 years later to become the director of the psychology laboratories at Harvard University. In bringing Münsterberg to Harvard, William James wrote to his novelist brother Henry that the university had acquired the “Rudyard Kipling of psychology” (Benjamin, 2006, p. 98).

The final event of this inaugural congress was a grand social affair. An elaborate banquet was held on the first platform of the Eiffel Tower, the recently completed architectural wonder that was the centerpiece of the Paris World’s Fair.

Perhaps prompted by this first international meeting of psychologists, discussions began about publishing international compilations of the new psychological literature. The German journal Zeitschrift für Psychologie und Physiologie der Sinnesorgane began publishing an international bibliography as early as 1890. And, in 1895, similar bibliographies appeared in France in Année Psychologique and in the United States in a new publication entitled The Psychological Index (Benjamin & VandenBos, 2006).

Parapsychology and the Early International Congresses of Psychology

When scientific psychology arrived on the scene in the late 1800s, it found itself in competition with an existing popular psychology in a variety of forms, what Leahey and Leahey (1983) have called psychology’s “occult doubles.” Phrenologists, physiognomists, spirtitualists, mesmerists, mental healers, and practitioners under other names as well offered a range of services to the public, including cures for melancholia, marital counseling, career advice, personnel selection, and parenting advice. For the public, these practitioners were the purveyors of psychology, a reality not lost on the new experimental psychologists who sought ways to distance their discipline from these popular psychologies and looked for opportunities to inform the public about the new science of psychology and why it was the one true psychology. In founding the first journal of the new psychology in 1881, Wilhelm Wundt had wanted to call it Psychologische Studien but that title was already in use as a parapsychological journal. So, Wundt selected Philosophische Studien instead. When G. Stanley Hall sought to found the first American journal of psychology in 1887, he was given the sum of $5,000 from a benefactor interested in establishing a parapsychology journal. Hall had no intention of establishing such a periodical and evidently never informed the donor of the nature of what would become the American Journal of Psychology. When the donor learned of the ruse, he asked that his money be returned (Ross, 1972).

Parapsychology had been a visible part of the program for the 1889 congress, and it promised to be on center stage at the second congress, planned for London, in 1892, and hosted by the British Society for Psychical Research. Indeed, the president of the London Congress was Henry Sidgwick, a philosopher and psychic researcher who was one of the founders and the first president of the British Society for Psychical Research (see Alan Collins, 2011, Chapter 14, in this volume). When the French were organizing the 1889 congress they had sought to identify psychological organizations in other countries for the purposes of distributing invitations. In the United States, their search led them only to the American Society for Psychical Research, and so they extended an invitation to that body. James and Jastrow became aware of this in attending the Paris Congress and likely brought that word back to American colleagues working in the new experimental psychology. It is possible that this situation proved to be an impetus for the founding of the American Psychological Association (APA) in 1892 (Sokal, 1992).

Joseph Jastrow had been vehement in his insistence that experimental psychology was in no way connected to paranormal subjects. Many of his experimental colleagues shared similar views. But the program included multiple sessions on paranormal events and there were, no doubt, many in attendance for whom that was the only subject of interest. That this tension was recognized by the organizers of the London Congress is evident in this description of the program: “All branches of experimental psychology received a due share of consideration in the (p. 4) papers and discussion. Owing to the abundance of material, it was found advisable to place Neurology and Psychophysics in one section (A), and Hypnotism with kindred questions in another (B)” (Anonymous, 1892, p. 580). Those experimental psychologists who attended Section A heard presentations from an outstanding lineup including Alexander Bain, Francis Galton, Charles Richet, Pierre Janet, Hermann Ebbinghaus, Eduard Hitzig, Christine Ladd-Franklin, C. Lloyd Morgan, Edward B. Titchener, Gerardus Heymans, Henry H. Donaldson, Lightner Witmer, James Mark Baldwin, and James Sully. Although the attendance at the meeting was heavily British, it was evident that the percentage of international attendees was much greater than at the Paris Congress.

The Third International Congress of Psychology was held in Munich, Germany, hosted by a heavily spiritistic association, the Gesellschaft für Psychologische Forschung.

According to Gundlach (1997), “Carl Stumpf, who presided over the congress, tried his best to curb spiritism and hypnotism. But the academic societies for the less sensational areas of psychology continued to have difficulties in assembling enough members to ensure enduring organizations” (pp. 537–538). Thus, the better organized spiritualists, hypnotists, and psychical researchers were able to continue as a major force in these early congresses purporting to represent the new experimental psychology. Furthermore, the presentations at these congresses were of sufficient interest to the psychical community such that detailed reports appeared regularly in psychic journals such as the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research (see, for example, Myers, 1889).

The Fourth International Congress returned to Paris in 1900, hosted by Ribot, Richet, and Pierre Janet. According to Robert Woodworth (1900), who reported on the meeting for the journal Science, “Psychical research was thoroughly ventilated at the Congress” (p. 606). Compared to past meetings, the number of papers on psychical topics declined (Warren, 1900). There were several papers on celebrated mediums, one of whom was present. One review of the psychical portion of the congress was especially critical of the quality of those presentations. In summarizing the presentations, Newbold (1902) concluded, “It is to be regretted that the tolerant spirit displayed by the organizers of the Congress in granting a hearing to the representatives of views with which few of them had any sympathy should have been in some cases so ill rewarded” (p. 103). Perhaps because they were being made to feel increasingly unwelcome, the psychical researchers decided to establish their own international congress, which would be known as the Institut Psychique. The paranormal group participated in one more congress, the fifth, held in Rome in 1905 (see Guido Cimino & Foschi, 2011, Chapter 19, this volume), but ties were officially severed there, and the spiritists, psychics, and mental healers found other venues in which they could share their common interests (Nicolas & Charvillat, 1998).

Politics, War, and the Congresses

The Sixth International Congress of Psychology was held in Geneva in 1909, attended by 550 psychologists. The multiple languages of the congresses had always been a problem and were commented upon in most summary reviews. It was noted that discussion of papers was almost always in the language of the presenter and thus limited to a small number of attendees, especially for languages such as Russian, Chinese, and Japanese. Some steps were taken at this congress to deal with the language barriers. The major addresses and many of the minor papers were distributed in advance, often with abstracts in several languages. Further, Esperanto was recognized as an official language, and several brief reports were given in that form (Ogden, 1909). Some believed that it could be the international language of science, a hope that quickly disappeared. For Americans, the big news of the Geneva Congress was that the organizing committee accepted the invitation to hold the next meeting in the United States, in 1913.

The American proposal was one of two considered for the next meeting, the other from Hungarian psychologists for a meeting in Budapest. The American proposal was ill-prepared at best. It was presented by Morton Prince as a petition to host the meeting, but without any indication of a host institution; that is, no university nor the American Psychological Association had indicated support for the meeting. The petition listed James Mark Baldwin as president of the congress and William James as honorary president. Yet, Baldwin had expressed no interest in the congress and had not signed Prince’s petition. And James was named without his consent or knowledge. The informality and disorganization of the proposal foretold of difficulties ahead. What followed were several years of bickering among the leaders of American psychology, especially James McKeen Cattell, James, Baldwin, and Titchener, that produced on-again, off-again plans for the congress that eventually went down to defeat in early 1912. (p. 5) By then, it was too late for any other country to put together plans for the meeting, and so it was cancelled. With the intervening years of World War I, the next congress would not be held until 1923, 5 years after the end of the war and 14 years after the Geneva Congress (Evans & Scott, 1978). The United States would have to wait 40 years from the first congress in Paris for its chance to serve as host country for the world’s psychologists.

When the congresses resumed in 1923, with the meeting held in Oxford, England, the pattern of attendance changed, as did the balance of power in the administration of the meetings. First, attendance was down considerably compared to the last two meetings before the war due to the economic recession affecting much of Europe. In fact, attendance was reduced by half, to approximately 240 attendees at both the Seventh Congress in Oxford and the Eighth Congress in Groningen, Holland, in 1926. Second, whereas the Germans and French seemed to have been the dominant forces before the war, the British and Americans assumed a larger role in the post-war congresses; the psychologies of those two countries would grow in international influence as well.

There was some concern about the reception of the German psychologists at the Oxford meeting in 1923, especially by the French participants. But all seemed to go well, as reported by Louis Thurstone (1923): “It was a source of satisfaction that the German and the French psychologists could meet each other as scientists and as men without allowing their political differences to affect seriously the activities of the Congress” (p. 560). The concerns about the German psychologists were merited, especially given the actions of Wilhelm Wundt, the acknowledged founder of the science of psychology. In 1914, 93 German professors and other intellectuals signed and published a document that was entitled “An Appeal to the Civilized World” (Lutz, 1932, vol. 1, pp. 74–78). Wundt was one of the signatories of that manifesto, which claimed that Germany’s invasion of Belgium was a matter of self-defense, and that Germany had the right to pursue whatever means necessary to ensure the future of German culture. Especially offensive to many academics was the German army’s destruction of the city of Louvain and its great university, which had been established in 1425. The signers of the manifesto argued that such destruction was justified and was, in fact, brought about as retaliation against actions of the citizens of Belgium. Some academics were so incensed by the message of the German manifesto that they considered it to be a war crime (Hale, 1980). Wundt’s ultra-patriotic stand angered many of his international students and caused some of them to revise their academic histories, minimizing the purported influence of Wundt and German psychology. Wundt died in 1920, just 2 years after the end of the war. But the ill will toward Germany lived on for some years. Sadly, it would recur all too soon.

The International Congress of Applied Psychology

In 1920, a new international organization formed, emphasizing applied psychology or what was then called psychotechnics. It held its initial meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, under the title International Congress of Psychotechnics Applied to Vocational Guidance. The timing, location, and subject of this conference were not accidental, as described by Horst Gundlach (1998):

World War I left Europe for the most part shattered and wrecked, physically as well as morally. The devastation gave way to revolutions and civil wars, and despite armistices and peace treaties, nobody dared to hope for an enduring peace. Reconstruction and reconciliation seemed to be the only remedy to prevent a rekindling of hostility and further destruction in Europe. Innovative practical applications seemed what the science of psychology could offer to the reconstruction projects, and a neutral and affluent Switzerland seemed the most appropriate location for reconciling embittered adversaries. (p. 25)

The word Psychotechnik was coined in Germany in 1903, and subsequently translated for similar use in many other languages, mostly European. It was used to describe vocational guidance and personnel selection tests that used apparatus, instead of the paper-and-pencil psychological tests that were popular in the United Kingdom and the United States. Interestingly, the work of Alfred Binet and Henri Simon on a psychological test for measuring intelligence was first presented at the 1905 Rome Congress. But their work would have far more impact in the United States and would not be the subject of much discussion in the early International Congresses of Psychology. Using an ever-developing collection of psychological instruments, those involved in psychotechniks measured such behaviors and cognitive processes as reaction time, hand-and-body steadiness, motor fatigue, color perception, and puzzle assembly (Drunen, 1997). Despite the German origins of the term, it was used by the new (p. 6) organization in the title of its congresses until it was replaced by the phrase applied psychology in 1955.

The first congress was organized by two faculty members at the University of Geneva: Édouard Claparède, professor of psychology, and Pierre Bovet, professor of education and philosophy. The focus of the congress was on vocational guidance, a growing activity in Europe following the influence of American lawyer Frank Parsons and the import of his ideas to Europe shortly before World War I. The approximately 50 participants at the Geneva congress came from Switzerland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, and a few other European nations. There were no participants from the United Kingdom, United States, or Russia. And no Germans attended, presumably because of the high rate of inflation after the war. However, some German psychologists did attend the second congress in Barcelona, in 1921 (Gundlach, 1998).

The significance of this initial congress was that it gave much-needed visibility and the beginnings of a voice to those psychologists worldwide who were interested chiefly in the application of their science. The early congresses focused on vocational guidance, but that subject proved too limiting, and it was dropped from the official congress title at the fourth congress in Paris, in 1927.

The Barcelona meeting in 1921 drew a much larger audience, as did the 1922 meeting in Milan. After three annual meetings, the congresses appeared on an irregular schedule. There were two more in the 1920s (1927 and 1928), three in the 1930s (1930, 1931, and 1934), and then a 15-year hiatus, largely because of World War II, until the 1949 meeting in Bern, Switzerland. Today, the congresses are held every 4 years on an agreed-upon schedule with the International Congress of Psychology, so that one of the congresses occurs every 2 years, an agreement reached with IUPsyS in 1976. The organization responsible for the International Congresses of Applied Psychology is the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP), a name adopted in 1955 (Pickren & Fowler, 2003). Today, the IAAP has a membership of approximately 1,500 psychologists in 80 countries. The congresses that it organizes are important venues for the development of applied psychology, especially in the exchange of ideas that offer solutions to problems that are international in scope (see Appendix B).

“Finally, Finally in America”

The Americans finally got their congress in 1929, the Ninth International Congress of Psychology, hosted by Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where psychologist James Rowland Angell was university president. James McKeen Cattell served as president of the congress. As secretary of the congress, Switzerland’s Édouard Claparède excitedly proclaimed in one of the opening addresses, “Enfin! Enfin en Amérique!” (Claparède, 1930, p. 33). He added that, “For us of the Old World, America has danced before our eyes for 40 years as the promised land” (Langfeld, 1929, p. 366).

Indeed, it had been 40 years since the first congress met in Paris in 1889. William James, who had attended that Paris meeting, was now dead, as was G. Stanley Hall, Hugo Münsterberg, and E. B. Titchener. John Watson had been forced out of academic psychology in 1920 because of his scandalous divorce. That left Cattell as the dean of American psychologists. Thus, the individual who, it can be argued, was most responsible for the failure of the Americans to host the 1913 meeting was now the welcoming and very active head of the 1929 Congress.

The Americans were eager to make a great impression. Although scientific psychology’s roots were clearly European, Americans in the public euphoria of the Roaring Twenties were convinced of the preeminence of American psychology, and they intended to make that evident. Attracting international visitors was critical, and because of the expense of travel to the States, there was some concern about how to draw participants from abroad. A note in the 1928 Psychological Bulletin announced that “The Americans hope that the appointment of some foreigners for lecturers and lectureships can be arranged near the time of the congress, so that foreign attendance can be increased and international solidarity within psychology furthered still more” (Anonymous, 1928, p. 122).

By almost all measures, the Ninth Congress was a great success. The American Psychological Association cancelled its meeting, and more than 700 of its members attended the congress, where they heard Karl Lashley deliver his APA presidential address. International registrants numbered 104 from 21 countries. Total attendance, including spouses, was more than 1,000, a number that far exceeded the previous record of approximately 600 attendees for the 1909 congress in Geneva, was four times the attendance of the previous congress in Groningen, and would not be equaled until the Brussels Congress (the 15th) of 1957.

The distinguished invited addresses were given by Ivan Pavlov from Russia, Wolfgang Köhler from (p. 7) Germany, Albert Michotte from Belgium, Henri Piéron from France, Carl Spearman from England, and Edward L. Thorndike from the United States. Other international speakers included Kurt Lewin, Alexander Luria, Jean Piaget, William Stern, Robert Thouless, Karl and Charlotte Bühler, Mario Ponzo, Otto Klemm, and Wilhelm Wirth. The program was decidedly American, with 310 papers delivered by speakers from the United States compared to 73 presentations by international psychologists (not including papers read by title). It was the largest program to date, held over a period of 7 days. Not only were the Americans able to flood their guests with the substance of American psychology, but important liaisons were formed with many of the international psychologists by arranging lectures for them at a number of the East Coast universities (Boring, 1930; Langfeld, 1929; Poffenberger, 1929).

One of the gifts given to each of the international participants was a copy of The Psychological Register, edited by Carl Murchison and hot off the Clark University Press. This impressive undertaking was the first international directory of psychologists. It listed psychologists individually by country and included their educational history and a list of publications to date. The 570-page book included approximately 1,250 psychologists from 33 countries, with slightly over half of the book devoted to psychologists from the United States and Canada. Murchison (1929) confessed to the difficulty of the task, in some cases, to identify legitimately trained psychologists in various countries and to get complete information from them as requested. But the compilation was by far the most complete to date and no doubt served an important function in stimulating contacts across borders. Interestingly, the book given to the international guests was identified as Volume 2. Volume 1 was to have been a compilation of psychologists who had died before 1929, going back to the ancient Greeks. But that book was never published. A greatly expanded version appeared in 1932 as Volume 3. Because of contacts made with international psychologists at the New Haven meeting, Volume 3 included nearly double the number of psychologists—approximately 2,400—from 40 countries (Murchison, 1932). These volumes proved helpful in subsequent congresses, particularly in arranging symposia for researchers working in common fields.

Montoro, Tortosa, and Carpintero (1992) have argued that the Ninth International Congress was exploited by the Americans in advancing their psychology. Nowhere was that more evident than in the presidential address delivered by Cattell (1930) entitled “Psychology in America.” Cattell clearly acknowledged America’s debt to Europe in the sciences, arts, humanities, and certainly in psychology, naming Wundt and Francis Galton as the two greatest psychologists who ever lived and noting that he worked with both of them. Although he was gracious in his praise of Wundt, with several of his German students in the audience, Cattell’s letters to his parents from his graduate study in Leipzig suggest that he held a very negative view of Wundt’s worth as a psychologist (Sokal, 1981). Perhaps he had changed his mind after 45 years. Cattell touted the contributions in applied psychology that had come from America, arguing for superiority in all applied fields with the exception of industrial psychology. He labeled the American Psychological Association as the “world’s greatest organization of psychologists” (Cattell, 1930, p. 22). He closed his remarks with a biblical metaphor illustrating the importance of such international meetings in the context of recent and continued international conflicts:

International congresses are significant factors in the advancement of scientific research; they also promote international cooperation and good-will. The objects of the sciences are more ideal than the objects of the churches; their practices are more Christian. When in the fullness of time there is a family of the nations, when each will give according to its ability and receive according to its needs, when war among them will be as absurd as it would now be for members of this Congress to begin murdering one another, this will be due in no small measure to cooperation among scientific men of all nations in their common work. And it may be that psychology, the child among the sciences, and the United States, the child among the nations, shall lead them. (p. 31)

In spite of the bravado, the meeting was by most measures a very successful one that connected American psychologists and their international colleagues in important ways. Contacts made by some of the attendees from Germany and Austria would prove fortunate only a few years later, when the rise of the Nazi party forced them to look for jobs and security in America and other countries.

The Gathering Storm

Following the meeting in the United States, the 1932 congress convened in Copenhagen. Attendance was (p. 8) less than half of the American meeting, approximately 450 registrants and guests. The 1936 meeting was to have been in Madrid, but the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War forced it to meet elsewhere. Initially, the Spanish organizers felt that the meeting could be delayed until the summer of 1937, but when it became clear that the violence had escalated and showed no signs of ending in the near future, they were forced to cancel their hopes for the meeting (Carpintero & Lafuente, 2008). In an attempted move from the frying pan to the fire, the ideological watch office of the Nazi Party sought to bring the meeting to Germany (Geuter, 1984). But the organizing committee chose Paris instead, with the 11th Congress opening in July, 1937. Despite the last-minute relocation of the congress, the meeting was judged a successful one, with nearly 600 registrants from 36 countries. Two proposals were submitted at the Paris meeting for the 1940 congress, one from Otto Klemm to hold the meeting in Leipzig, Germany, the other from Karl Bühler to host the meeting in Vienna, Austria. Bühler told Klemm that if he supported the Austrian proposal for the 11th Congress, then Bühler would support a meeting in Germany for the 12th Congress. The Austrian proposal was accepted. When the Nazis invaded Austria in March, 1938, Bühler was arrested and put in prison for several months (Rosenzweig, Holtzman, Sabourin, & Bélanger, 2000). He and his wife Charlotte would eventually make their way to the United States, part of the diaspora of displaced European intellectuals (Mandler & Mandler, 1969). Klemm committed suicide in January 1939, likely related to the dismissal of Felix Kreuger, Wundt’s successor, from the Leipzig faculty. Kreuger was not anti-Semitic enough for the Nazi Party, which brought about his ouster in 1938. Klemm, who admired Kreuger, took over his position for the few months before his death. He was 54 years old (Wohlwill, 1987).

With the German occupation of Austria, pressures grew within the congress organizing committee to move the meeting. The American Psychological Association passed a resolution opposing the meeting in Vienna or in any country where the progress of psychology would be “hindered by a government hostile to the tradition of free and unimpeded scholarship” (Olson, 1939, p. 129). Plans were made to move the 1940 meeting to Edinburgh, Scotland, but as the war in Europe escalated, it became clear that no meeting would be possible. Instead, the 12th International Congress of Psychology was delayed until several years after the conclusion of World War II, meeting in Edinburgh in 1948, with an attendance of approximately 700, most of those from Great Britain. It was at this congress that the plans for the IUPsyS were formed.

The International Union of Psychological Science

The idea for an international union had been discussed at the first international congress in 1889 and at subsequent meetings. But the growth of psychology internationally following World War II, especially the formation of many new national psychology organizations (see Appendix C), led to a renewed call for a formal organization that could promote international meetings and international cooperation among psychologists. Moreover, such international unions were being encouraged by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

As noted at the beginning of this chapter, the Union was formally established in 1951, as the International Union of Scientific Psychology at the time of the 13th International Congress of Psychology in Stockholm. The name was changed in 1965 to the International Union of Psychological Science, perhaps to avoid the assumption that there could be a psychology that was unscientific. The rules of the Union allowed for the membership of one psychological organization from each country. Eleven psychological associations joined as charter members, representing Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. In addition to those 11 charter members, societies from nine other nations were also added in 1951. Today’s 74 member nations range from the membership of the United States at 114,000 to Malta at 46. Other nations with large memberships include the United Kingdom (39,000), Spain (30,700), Australia (16,500), Germany (15,000), the Netherlands (13,000), Sweden (8,600), Indonesia (8,100), and Japan (7,300). See Appendix A for a listing of all member nations of the IUPsyS.

The chief function of the Union is to facilitate the exchange of psychological knowledge among nations. Its goals were first stated formally in 1952 and modified in the years since. The aims of the Union were described in 2009 as follows:

As stated in Article 5 of its Statutes, the IUPsyS works to promote “the development, representation and advancement of psychology as a basic and applied science nationally, regionally, and (p. 9) internationally.” It represents psychology in its full breadth as a science and as a profession.

Article 6 of the Statutes states the aims of the Union as follows:

  1. (a) To enhance and promote the development of the science and profession of psychology.

  2. (b) To exchange ideas and scientific information between psychologists of different countries.

  3. (c) To organize the International Congresses of Psychology and other meetings on subjects of general or special interest in psychology.

  4. (d) To contribute to psychological knowledge through publishing activities.

  5. (e) To foster the exchange of publications and other communications among different countries.

  6. (f) To foster excellence in standards for education, training, research and the applications of psychology.

  7. (g) To enable the development of psychological scientists and national associations through capacity building activities.

  8. (h) To foster international exchange, especially among students and young researchers.

  9. (i) To collaborate with other international, regional, and national organizations in matters of mutual interest. (from the IUPsyS website, 2009).

Perhaps the most immediate impact of the Union was a more structured and formalized mechanism for soliciting bids for the international congresses and working with the local hosts in the planning and conduct of those meetings. See Appendix D for a listing of all the International Congresses of Psychology.

Consistent with the aims listed above, the Union began publication of a journal, the International Journal of Psychology, in 1966. Since 1992, it has published the proceedings of the International Congresses. It occasionally publishes other volumes, such as a history of the Union and all of the congresses from 1889 to 1996 (Rosenzweig, et al., 2000) and The International Handbook of Psychology (Pawlik & Rosenzweig, 2000). The Union participates with other international councils in matters of mutual interest, especially promoting the development of science worldwide. Further, it has organized and/or co-sponsored a number of regional conferences on a variety of psychological topics. As noted earlier, the International Congresses of Psychology and the International Congresses of Applied Psychology each occur every 4 years but are staggered by mutual agreement, so that one of the congresses occurs every other year (see Appendix B).

Conclusion

Today, there are a great many specialized international congresses in psychology on such topics as sport psychology, personal construct psychology, psychology and law, cross-cultural psychology, analytical psychology, psychoanalysis, child psychology, psychology and religion, positive psychology, psychotherapy, psychology and spirituality, and even one on licensure, certification, and credentialing of psychologists. Some of these have been aided by the IUPsyS as part of its mission to enhance the development of the science and practice of psychology.

The work of the IUPsyS extends the reach of psychology beyond disciplinary boundaries. The Union is currently involved in a worldwide program to develop sustainable water use. In cooperation with the World Health Organization, the Union is working on a revision of the international classification of diseases. Allied with other international groups, the Union seeks to bring psychology’s resources to bear on creating conditions that will sustain world peace.

Opportunities abound to assist the development of psychology and psychologists in many countries where both the science and issues of mental health are not well developed. In recent years, the IUPsyS has discovered that its limited resources cannot begin to meet the needs that come to its door. It is hoped that this book, in describing the historical development of psychology in so many nations, will alert readers to the similarities and differences of problems faced by individuals in countries large and small, rural and urban, and that it may result in stimulating further advancement of the quality of psychological science and psychological services throughout an increasingly interconnected global society.

List of Abbreviations/Acronyms and Technical Terms

  • APA: American Psychological Association, largest national psychology organization, founded in 1892

  • IAAP: International Association of Applied Psychology; responsible for the international congresses of applied psychology that began in Geneva in 1920 and meet now every 4 years

  • (p. 10)
  • ICP: International Congress of Psychology; held its first meeting inParis in 1889 and meets every 4 years

  • IUPsyS: International Union of Psychological Science, founded in 1951; contains 74 member nations today. It is responsible for planning the international congresses of psychology

  • UNESCO: United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization

Glossary

  • Esperanto: A language developed in the 1870s that was intended to be an international language, but never received the support its developers had hoped

  • psychotechnik: A word coined in Germany in 1903, initially used to describe psychological work in vocational guidance and personnel selection tests that used apparatus; it later became a synonym for applied psychology

Further Reading

Brock, A. (Ed.). (2006). Internationalizing the history of psychology. New York: New York University Press.Find this resource:

David, H. P., & Buchanan, J. (2003). International psychology. In D. K. Freedheim (Ed.), Handbook of psychology. Volume 1: History of psychology (pp. 509–533). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley.Find this resource:

Gundlach, H. U. K. (1998). The 1920 Geneva Congress. In H. Gundlach (Ed.), Applied psychology. Volume 1: The First Congress Geneva, 1920 (pp. 25–41). London: Routledge.Find this resource:

James, W. (1889). The Congress of Physiological Psychology at Paris. Mind, 14, 614–616.Find this resource:

Montoro, L., Tortosa, F., & Carpintero, H. (1992). Brief history of international congresses of psychology. In M. Richelle & H. Carpintero (Eds.), Contributions to the history of the International Congresses of Psychology (pp. 75–89). Brussels: Leuven University Press.Find this resource:

Rosenzweig, M. R., Holtzman, W. H., Sabourin, M., & Belanger, D. (2000). History of the International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS). Philadelphia: Taylor and Francis.Find this resource:

Sexton, V. S., & Hogan, J. D. (Eds.). (1992). International psychology: Views from around the world. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Find this resource:

Stevens, M. J., & Gielen, U. P. (Eds.). (2007). Toward a global psychology: Theory, research, intervention, and pedagogy. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Find this resource:

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(p. 12) Appendix A

Albania

Finland

Mexico

Slovakia

Argentina

France

Mongolia

Slovenia

Australia

Georgia

Morocco

South Africa

Austria

Germany

Namibia

Spain

Bangladesh

Greece

Netherlands

Sudan

Belgium

Hong Kong

New Zealand

Sweden

Bulgaria

Hungary

Nicaragua

Switzerland

Canada

India

Nigeria

Turkey

Chile

Indonesia

Norway

Uganda

China

Iran

Pakistan

Ukraine

Colombia

Ireland

Panama

United Kingdom

Croatia

Israel

Peru

Uruguay

Cuba

Italy

Philippines

United States

Czech Republic

Japan

Poland

Venezuela

Denmark

Jordan

Portugal

Vietnam

Dominican Republic

Korea

Romania

Yemen

Egypt

Lithuania

Russia

Zimbabwe

Estonia

Malta

Singapore

Member Nations of the International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS)

Number

Year

Location

President

I

1920

Geneva, Switzerland

Édouard Claparède

II

1921

Barcelona, Spain

Édouard Claparède

III

1922

Milan, Italy

Giulio Cesare Ferrari

IV

1927

Paris, France

Édouard Toulouse

V

1928

Utrecht, The Netherlands

Franciscus M. Roels

VI

1930

Barcelona, Spain

Emilio Mira y López

VII

1931

Moscow, USSR

Isaak Naftulevich Spielrein

VIII

1934

Prague, Czechoslovakia

František Šeracky

IX

1949

Bern, Switzerland

Henri Piéron

X

1951

Göteborg, Sweden

John K. G. Elmgren

XI

1953

Paris, France

Raymond Bonnardel

XII

1955

London, United Kingdom

Clifford B. Frisby

XIII

1958

Rome, Italy

Leandro Canestrelli

XIV

1961

Copenhagen, Denmark

R. Tranekjaer

XV

1964

Ljubljana, Yugoslavia

Zoran Bujas

XVI

1968

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

H. R. Wijngaarden

XVII

1971

Liège, Belgium

Roger Piret

XVIII

1974

Montreal, Canada

L. Dorais

XIX

1978

Munich, Germany

R. Amthauer

XX

1982

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Gerry Randell

XXI

1986

Jerusalem, Israel

Yehuda Amir

XXII

1990

Kyoto, Japan

Jyuji Misumi

XXIII

1994

Madrid, Spain

Jose Maria Prieto

XXIV

1998

San Francisco, United States

Joseph D. Matarazzo

XXV

2002

Singapore

Elizabeth Nair

XXVI

2006

Athens, Greece

James Georgas & Marina Manthouli

XXVII

2010

Melbourne, Australia

Paul Martin

XXVIII

2014

Paris, France

(p. 13) Appendix B

Country

Society

Year Founded

Afghanistan

Afghan Psychological Association

2001

Albania

Association of Albanian Psychologists

1991

Argentina

Argentine Psychological Society

1930

Armenia

Union of Psychologists of Armenia

Australia

Australian Psychological Society

1945

Austria

Austrian Association of Professional Psychologists

1953

Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan Psychological Association

1997

Bahamas

Bahamas Psychological Association

Bangladesh

Bangladesh Psychological Association

Barbados

Psychological Association of Barbados

Brazil

Brazilian Association of Applied Psychology

1949

Bulgaria

Bulgarian Psychological Society

Cambodia

Cambodian Psychological Society

Canada

Canadian Psychological Association

1938

Chile

Association of Psychologists of Chile

1959

China

Chinese Psychological Society

1921

Colombia

Colombian Federation of Psychology

1955

Croatia

Croatian Psychological Association

1953

Cuba

Cuban Union of Psychology

1964

Cypress

Cypress Psychologists Association

Czechoslovakia

Czechoslovak Psychological Association

1958

Denmark

Association of Danish Psychologists

1947

Dominican Republic

Dominican Psychologists’ Society

1979

Ecuador

Ecuador Society of Psychological and Psychiatric Studies

1942

Egypt

Egyptian Association for Psychological Studies

1948

El Salvador

Salvadoran Society of Psychology

1964

Estonia

Union of Estonian Psychologists

1988

Ethiopia

Ethiopian Psychologists’ Association

Finland

Finnish Psychological Society

1952

France

French Psychological Society

1901

Georgia

Georgian Psychological Association

1991

Germany

German Society for Experimental Psychology

1904

Greece

Association of Greek Psychologists

1963

Guam

Guam Psychological Association

Guatemala

Guatemalan Psychological Association

1996

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Psychological Society

1968

Hungary

Hungarian Psychological Association

1928

Iceland

Association of Icelandic Psychologists

1954

India

Indian Psychological Association

1925

Indonesia

Indonesian Psychology Association

1959

Iran

Iranian Association of Psychology

1995

Iraq

Iraqi Educational and Psychological Association

Ireland

Psychological Society of Ireland

1970

Israel

Israeli Psychological Association

1958

Italy

Italian Psychological Society

1910

Jamaica

Jamaica Psychological Society

Japan

Japanese Psychological Association

1927

Jordan

Jordan Psychological Association

1996

Kenya

Kenya Psychological Association

Korea

Korean Psychological Association

1946

Latvia

Latvian Professional Psychologists Association

Lebanon

Lebanese Psychological Association

Liechtenstein

Association of Liechtenstein Psychologists

Lithuania

Lithuanian Psychological Association

1958

Malaysia

Malaysian Psychological Association

Malta

Malta Union of Professional Psychologists

Mexico

Mexican Psychological Society

1953

Mongolia

Mongolian Psychologists Association

Morocco

Moroccan Psychological Association

Namibia

Psychological Association of Namibia

1990

Nepal

Nepalese Psychological Association

1982

Netherlands

Netherlands Institute of Psychology

1938

New Zealand

New Zealand Psychological Society

1967

Nicaragua

Nicaraguan Psychological Association

1981

Nigeria

Nigerian Psychological Association

Norway

Norwegian Psychological Association

1934

Pakistan

Pakistan Psychological Association

Panama

Panamanian Psychologists Association

1965

Peru

Peruvian Society of Psychology

1954

Philippines

Psychological Association of the Philippines

1961

Poland

Polish Psychological Association

1948

Portugal

Portuguese Psychological Society

1965

Puerto Rico

Association of Psychologists of Puerto Rico

1954

Romania

Psychologists Association of Romania

1965

Russia

Soviet Federal Socialist Republic Psychological Society

1957

San Marino

Organization of Psychologists of San Marino

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Educational and Psychological Association

Serbia

Serbian Psychological Society

1953

Singapore

Singapore Psychological Society

1979

Slovakia

Slovak Psychological Association

1957

Slovenia

Slovene Psychological Association

1954

South Africa

Psychological Association of South Africa

1982

Spain

Spanish Psychological Society

1952

Sudan

Sudanese Psychological Society

1987

Sweden

Swedish Psychological Association

1955

Switzerland

Swiss Psychological Society

1943

Thailand

Thai Psychological Association

Tunisia

Tunisian Society of Psychology

1961

Turkey

Turkish Psychological Association

1956

Uganda

Ugandan National Psychological Association

1992

Ukraine

Ukrainian Psychological Society

United Arab Emirates

Emirates Psychological Association

United Kingdom

British Psychological Society

1901

United States

American Psychological Association

1892

Uruguay

Psychological Society of Uruguay

1953

Venezuela

Venezuelan Psychological Federation

1957

Vietnam

Psycho-Pedagogical Association of Vietnam

1990

Yemen

Yemen Psychological Association

1990

Yugoslavia

Psychological Association of Yugoslavia

1950

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Psychological Association

* Partially adapted from David & Buchanan (2003). Many countries have more than one psychological society. For the purposes of this listing we included only the first one to be established.

International Congresses of Applied Psychology

(p. 14) Appendix C*

Number

Year

Location

President

I

1889

Paris, France

Jean-Martin Charcot

II

1892

London, United Kingdom

Henry Sidgwick

III

1896

Munich, Germany

Carl Stumpf

IV

1900

Paris, France

Théodule Ribot

V

1905

Rome, Italy

Giuseppi Sergi

VI

1909

Geneva, Switzerland

Théodore Flournoy

VII

1923

Oxford, United Kingdom

Charles Myers

VIII

1926

Groningen, The Netherlands

Gerardus Heymans

IX

1929

New Haven, United States

James McK. Cattell

X

1932

Copenhagen, Denmark

Edgar Rubin

XI

1937

Paris, France

Henri Piéron

XII

1948

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

James Drever, Sr.

XIII

1951

Stockholm, Sweden

David Katz

XIV

1954

Montreal, Canada

Edward Bott & Edward Tolman

XV

1957

Brussels, Belgium

Albert Michotte

XVI

1960

Bonn, Germany

Wolfgang Metzger

XVII

1963

Washington, DC, United States

Otto Klineberg

XVIII

1966

Moscow, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Alexei Leontiev

XIX

1969

London, United Kingdom

George Drew

XX

1972

Tokyo, Japan

Moriji Sagara

XXI

1976

Paris, France

Paul Fraisse

XXII

1980

Leipzig, Germany

Friedhart Klix

XXIII

1984

Acapulco, Mexico

Rogelio Diaz-Guerrero

XXIV

1988

Sydney, Australia

Peter Sheehan

XXV

1992

Brussels, Belgium

Géry d’Ydewalle &Paul Bertelson

XXVI

1996

Montreal, Canada

David Bélanger

XXVII

2000

Stockholm, Sweden

Lars-Göran Nilsson

XXVIII

2004

Beijing, China

Qicheng Jing

XXIX

2008

Berlin, Germany

Peter Frensch

XXX

2012

Cape Town, South Africa

Saths Cooper

National Psychological Societies (p. 15) (p. 16)

(p. 17) Appendix D

International Congresses of Psychology