Concluding Thoughts on Internationalizing the History of Psychology
Abstract and Keywords
This final chapter reviews the development of international psychology, with a focus on internationalizing the history of psychology. A summary of the contributions to this volume is offered that highlights the impact of contextual factors in the development of psychology around the world. Acknowledgment is made of the importance of an indigenous approach in creating an international history of psychology. As psychology becomes more international, it is important that efforts are made to ensure that the records of individuals, organizations, institutions, and events are properly preserved and maintained.
As we write this final chapter, the first half of 2010 has come to a close. It has been 6 months of international news. In January, Haiti felt the devastating effects of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. The ongoing efforts to provide medical care, food, and shelter for the beleaguered inhabitants of Haiti are international and intensive. July 2010 brought an estimated audience of more than 700 million television viewers to the World Cup soccer championship match between Spain and the Netherlands in South Africa. Both events have been communicated to the world via all manner of social and conventional media, demonstrating advances in the rapid transmission of news and information. Nations that typically might not find common ground can put aside differences to help rebuild a fractured country or enjoy the spectacle of sport. These international events remind us that we are part of the world community. It is our hope that this volume, while not saving lives or winning championships, is participating in, and contributing to, a process of greater international understanding.
It is clear that international developments in psychology are prominent on the current radar in our field. We find ourselves living in a time when the world seems much smaller; we are more readily connected in real time and more interdependent. We speak of a world economy and concern ourselves with issues such as global warming. Solutions to many of the issues that confront the world (illness, violence, substance abuse) can be found in the advances being made in psychological science and practice.
Many have decried the dominance of Western (mainly American) standards in defining the subject matter and methods of psychological science and practice (Moghaddam, 1987). This same criticism has also been leveled against the history of psychology (Brock, 2006). Few would argue that the standard narrative of the history of psychology emphasizes European and American traditions over others. It is not our intention to take sides in such debates, but rather to acknowledge that we live in times that ask of us greater efforts at international understanding.
(p. 617) The contributors to this volume were asked to provide a narrative describing the history of psychology in their country. We asked them to consider the rise of psychological science and practice against the backdrop of the political and socioeconomic forces that have shaped their psychologies. Each has told a unique story, and in doing so, has added another element to our understanding of the history of psychology. Some stories are better known than others. The history of psychology in countries such as the United States, England, and France has been well covered for decades. Other histories, such as that of the small nation of Brunei, have never been told and are found here for the first time. Taken together, these stories begin to illustrate a new world map, one whose boundaries are less about geography and more about the meaning and need for a science and practice of psychology on a global scale.
As was noted in the opening chapter, efforts to bring the world’s psychologists together has a history that began in the late 19th century. Almost as soon as the new science of psychology appeared in Europe, the new psychologists sought to share their experiences. Throughout the 20th century, international organizations have appeared and forums have been conducted. On the other hand, international psychology as a topical area is a relatively recent development (Gilgen & Gilgen, 1987). Due to a confluence of social, political, economic, and technological developments, the 1990s were witness to a proliferation of publications, organizations, and activities bearing the imprimatur of international psychology. The book International Psychology: Views from Around the World (Sexton & Hogan, 1992) was typical of the new genre. It included 45 chapters, each describing the psychology of a particular country. In the introduction, the authors voiced the growing concern that too much of psychology was American psychology:
Many feel that North American psychologists have contributed little to international understanding. In their pursuit of psychology as a science, the history and tradition of other cultures were considered irrelevant. And yet the benefits of such an understanding are already apparent and would seem to be increasing. (p. 2).
International psychology seeks to promote communication and collaboration among the world’s psychologists and is viewed as a broad-based effort that includes such disciplines as cross-cultural psychology, cultural psychology, ethnic studies, and indigenous psychology (Stevens & Wedding, 2004). More recently the term global psychology has been introduced and seeks to expand upon the goals of international psychology to encompass “the application of psychological science to pressing global concerns, such as overpopulation, global warming, HIV/AIDS, and human trafficking” (Stevens & Gielen, 2007, p. xiv).
International Psychology and the History of Psychology
In fulfilling its mission, international psychology focuses on contemporary issues and developments in psychology around the world. Through a myriad of organizations and publications, international psychology has provided increased understanding of psychology in countries throughout the world. Detailed descriptions of the activities of psychologists including their education and training, research interests and activities, professional practice and priorities are helping to foster communication and collaboration, activities that are central to the mission of international psychology (Stevens & Wedding, 2004). In this regard, we believe that an elucidation of the history of psychology in countries throughout the world will add depth and richness to international psychology.
Examining psychology’s past, be it an individual, event, institution, or country, provides meaningful understanding of the past and an enriched understanding of the present. History points out the mistakes made and provides perspective. As historian of science Roger Smith has noted “‘without historical knowledge it is simply impossible to understand contexts, the viewpoints of the present as well as the past’” (Smith, 2007, p. 133).
Efforts to bring an international focus to the history of psychology are receiving increased attention (Brock, 2006; Kugelman & Belzen, 2009; Pickren, 2009). An important part of the movement toward an international psychology has been the recognition that the development of psychology in North America and Europe tells only a selective part of the story. As Stevens and Wedding (2004) note:
International psychology is an antidote to the uncritical application of Western psychology. By questioning claims of objectivity that supersede culture in a universally applicable investigative methodology, international psychology affirmed the necessity of constructing meaningful understanding and applications based on a constitutive view of human functioning. (p. 4)(p. 618)
The call for an international psychology that embraces traditions other than the ever-present Western point of view suggests that other psychologies exist, are deserving in their own right, and offer frames of reference that enhance psychological science and practice. Consideration of these issues is found most frequently in discussion of an indigenous history of psychology.
Indigenous Histories of Psychology
The term “indigenous psychology” is appearing with greater regularity, although its uses and definitions vary. Kim and Berry (1993) define indigenous psychology as “the scientific study of human behavior or mind that is native, that is not transported from other regions, and that is designed for its people” (p. 2). This definition is broad enough to capture the essence of the concept. The concept is not a new one and draws from the traditions of linguist Kenneth Pike (1912–2000), who made a distinction between “emic” and “etic” approaches to the cultural study of language. Pike (1967) derived emic from phonemics and used it to refer to the subjective understanding and meaning of language whereas etic (from phonetics) referred to the objective and scientific study of language. According to Headland and McElhanon (2004): “Pike used emic to refer to the intrinsic cultural distinctions meaningful to the members of a cultural group and etic to refer to the extrinsic ideas and categories meaningful for researchers” (p. 305). Pike’s work highlighted an internal versus external point of view in cultural studies, a distinction that has found its way into other social sciences, including the history of psychology.
Striking the balance between emic and etic approaches to psychological knowledge has waxed and waned over the short history of psychology. Local centers of psychological knowledge spread throughout the world in the late 19th and early 20th century. The clinical traditions of France, the psychophysics of Germany, and the anthropometric emphases of London are but a few examples. These practices, local in origin and meaning, found receptive colleagues and students throughout the world. However as historian of psychology Kurt Danzinger (2006) has observed, the domination of American psychology in the postwar period has marginalized indigenous psychology. Danziger (2006) acknowledges the tension that exists between universal principles of psychological processes (the etic) and local conditions (the emic):
So we get a dualistic model: on the one hand, basic processes that are regarded as inherent features of individual organisms and individual minds; on the other hand, local social conditions that affect the specific manifestations of these processes. The core of psychological science is constituted by the investigation of universally valid basic processes; the study of human psychology in social and historical context, however, is regarded as peripheral to this core endeavor, less important because its results are not universally generalizable. (p. 213)
But the times, as they say, are a’changing. Historians of psychology are beginning to focus on and value the indigenous point of view (Brock, 2006; Pickren, 2009). The late Salvadorian priest and psychologist Ignacio Martín-Baró advanced the concept of liberation psychology (Blucker, 2007). He believed that North American psychology was based upon a set of assumptions that did not fit other countries such as El Salvador. The solution, according to Martín-Baró, was the creation of an indigenous psychology. This could be accomplished by rejecting the assumptions of North American psychology in favor of local traditions and contexts. Indeed, it is the intention of this volume to bring together a collection of indigenous psychologies. We hope this begins a process whereby the histories of psychology of a particular country can be examined both in their own right and in relation to others.
The Power of Time and Place
We asked authors to consider the rise of the science and practice of psychology within the larger social and political context of their respective countries. Each chapter contains elements that tell of a unique cultural history. Eventually, nearly all of the narratives locate modern psychology within the context of the received traditions of Western psychology. In examining the chapters individually and collectively, a number of themes emerge that can serve as a taxonomy of sorts for organizing an emerging international history of psychology.
Antiquity and Modernity
In many ways, the history of psychology around the world is akin to the history of human civilization. For example, the teaching of Confucius (551–479 bc) on such topics as the unity of nature and people, the interaction between spirit and body, and the relationship between human learning and state governance have influenced Chinese life, culture, and politics for more than two millennia. As Hsueh and Guo (2011, Chapter 6, this volume) indicate, echoes of Confucius (p. 619) can be found in such modern psychological concepts as perception and cognition, emotions, will and volition, mental ability, and the relationship between inborn qualities and experience.
The origins of psychology in the Middle East tell of Islamic and Muslim traditions that clearly elucidate psychological themes. As the chapters on Saudi Arabia and Egypt make clear, the Middle Ages were times of great innovation among Islamic scholars on theories of mind, human perception, and psychopathology. Likewise, the 16th-century traditions of influential thinkers such as Juan Luis Vies of Spain provided treatises on the mind and soul that became part of the emergence of empiricism during the Renaissance (Clements, 1967). In 17th-century Scotland, advances in physiology existed alongside philosophical analysis of mind that merged in 19th-century German psychophysics, giving rise to the science of psychology.
As anyone who has taken (or taught) a course on the history of psychology knows, there is usually some acknowledgment of the similarity of ancient thought to modern expressions of psychological science and practice. Rarely, however, do they provide the type of depth, diversity, and continuity that are presented in this volume. What begins to emerge from these narratives is a history of psychology that is indigenous and at the same time universal.
Spirituality and Religion
The relationships between faith traditions and psychology are numerous yet often underacknowledged. Increasingly historians of psychology are beginning to explicate these relationships and are doing so from an international perspective (Kugelman & Belzen, 2009). The present volume offers multiple examples of the ways in which religion has shaped social and political forces that have had a bearing on psychological science and practice. The history of psychology in the Russian Federation shows that the divine right bestowed upon the czars allowed Orthodox faith to maintain the status quo and resist the impulses that were pressing for secular modernization. According to Sirotkina and Smith (2011, Chapter 20, this volume),
Thus clashes between materialist spiritualist views of human nature, debates on free will and responsibility, and, inevitably, early discussions relevant to psychology were intensely politicized. Materialism and radical political opposition to tsarism were firmly associated in pre-revolutionary Russia, while alternative views were often characteristic of a more moderate and sometimes conservative intelligentsia. The struggles between materialists and spiritualists in the second half of the 19th century shaped psychology as a separate domain of thought.
Before there was a science of psychology, many English-speaking countries relied on mental and moral philosophy as a guide to understanding mind and behavior. In 19th-century America, this was exemplified in the teachings and writings of Thomas Upham (1799–1872) of Bowdoin College. His 1827 textbook Elements of Mental Philosophy was a major best seller for nearly 50 years (Fuchs, 2000). Typical of the genre, the book described a “faculty psychology,” an approach that ascribed mental traits such as attention, intellect, and emotions to distinct units of mind. Much in the tradition of Scottish moral philosophy, faculty psychology attempted to define the meaning of a moral and just life. Such a perspective made this nascent psychology an acceptable topic of instruction in America colleges and university’s most of which had clear religious affiliations (Goodwin, 2011, Chapter 27, this volume).
The impact of religion on psychology was substantial in 20th-century Ireland. The growth and development of psychology in 20th-century Ireland was slowed by a confluence of events related to the political and economic consequences of independence from Britain. Independence brought with it a reassertion of the primacy and authority of the Catholic Church. This was especially evident in education (including higher education), where Church doctrine dictated what would be taught and how it would be taught. Brock (2011, this volume, Chapter 18) notes, “The situation is of relevance to psychology since many members of the church were opposed to what they saw as a secular and/or materialistic approach to the soul.” This opposition extended to social services that were not part of the faith tradition leading Brock to conclude, “With attitudes like this, it is easy to see how Ireland reached the 1950s without offering psychological services of any kind and why scientific or modern psychology had not become established in the universities.”
In many ways, the relationship between psychology and religion in Ireland is typical of the common tensions that have existed between faith and reason throughout the history of psychology.
Industrialization and Applied Psychology
A clear distinction exists between those countries that are industrialized and those that are not. (p. 620) The differences are evident in all manner of economic indicators and also in the development and direction that psychology has taken around the world.
The mass industrialization of Western nations during the 20th century gave rise to many of the principles and practices in psychology that are omnipresent today. In many ways, applied psychology appeared in industrialized nations as an expression of the utility of psychological science to solve a variety of human problems. Industrialization led to a shift from rural to urban life, and created new industrial urban centers that were the embodiment of the modern. Technology thrived and brought a host of modern conveniences like electricity and automobiles, as well as a culture of consumerism that kept the economy moving. As expenditures for goods and services increased, so too did demand for human labor. It was here that psychology offered a growing list of tests and tools for assessing aptitude and ability. Darwin’s revolutionary work on evolution generated significant interest in the measurement of individual differences, including the efficient matching of person and environment. Whether in business, education, industry, or the military, applied psychology helped to meet the need for a differentiated labor force. With the advent of World War I, these applications of psychology gained favor through the selection and training of military personnel. In the United States and in European countries like Germany, the military provided a stable and sustainable base for applied psychology.
Conflict and Colonization
Perhaps the greatest influence on the emergence of psychology around the world has been the never-ending struggle for power and control. Although the mechanisms and means may vary (invasion, civil war, world war, economic crisis, etc.), the outcomes are fairly similar. Throughout history, political ideologies and practices have exerted tremendous influence over the development, application, and value of knowledge. Consider that psychology emerged in Turkey largely as a result of the demise of the Ottoman Empire and the ascendancy of European modernism that led to the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923. Commenting on the change Gülerce (2011, Chapter 26, this volume) observed:
Diplomats and students were sent abroad to observe the developments not only in industry, technology and science, but also culture and social life in Europe. Modern educational institutions were established and foreign instructors were invited to Istanbul. Although relations with France changed after France’s colonialist expansion and Bonaparte’s invasion of Malta and Egypt (1798), the appropriation of European modernism as the guiding political orientation through Western technology, knowledge, law and art remained.
In many parts of the world, colonization has shaped psychological science and practice. Colonization in essence overrides existing culture and replaces it with the worldview of the colonizer. The chapters on psychology in South America and the Caribbean are examples. In Colombia, an indigenous psychology that predated the arrival of Spanish colonizers in the 15th century thrived. According to Ardila (2011, Chapter 7, this volume):
In the territory of present-day Colombia many native groups existed, including the Muiscas, Taironas, Caribbeans, Tolimas, Kunas, and others. In all of them have been found ideas related to the human being, family, child rearing practices, the lifecycle, old age, the way to know the world, sexuality, how we learn, how people relate to others, the normal and abnormal, relationships between genders, harmony between people, death and the afterlife.
Spanish colonizers insisted that Christianity would bring a civilizing influence to a native population they viewed as primitive. In that process, the indigenous culture all but disappeared.
Beginning in the 15th century, the indigenous tribes of the Caribbean Islands were overwhelmed by explorers and exploiters from Spain, Britain, France, Holland, and the United States. African slaves populated many of the Caribbean Islands, forced to work in the plantations that produced sugar and spices that were traded throughout the world. The legacy left by this history is summarized by Frey (2011, Chapter 5, this volume):
Longstanding problems of violence, educational disparities and emerging health issues such as HIV/AIDS all can be traced to the psychosocial fragmentation resulting from this colonial heritage. It stands to reason then that the direction of psychology in the region has been shaped by the need to address the psychosocial needs of the inhabitants of the islands.
Examination of the impact of colonization on the suppression and expression of psychology from an indigenous perspective is an example of new ways in (p. 621) which the history of psychology is becoming internationalized (Brock, 2006; Pickren, 2009).
All of the chapters in this volume describe psychology as a discipline that offers some promise of understanding and improving the human condition. The science and practice of psychology has evolved around the world on different trajectories and timelines, yet converges on the recognition of the need for a human science that can confront the challenges that face the world today. Problems of disease, poverty, education, mental illness, the environment, and armed conflict are human problems that require human answers. Psychology is well suited to respond and, as many of the chapters in this volume attest, the need for trained professionals is widespread. Stevens and Gielen (2007) estimate that there are more than 1 million psychologists in the world. Traditionally, the greatest number of psychologists was found in the United States. This is no longer true. It has been estimated that there are more than 300,000 psychologists in Europe, 200,000 in Latin America, and 277,000 in the United States (Stevens & Wedding, 2004). Using such estimates is difficult because of the significant variability in defining just who is a psychologist. In many places, a baccalaureate degree provides entry into the profession, whereas in others the doctorate serves as the terminal degree. In addition to degree attainment, there are issues of professional regulation including licensing requirements. For more than 50 years, professional psychologists in the United States have been governed by a model of training that specifies the doctorate as the entry-level degree into the profession. Efforts to provide some international uniformity in professional standards is under way and the efforts of the European Federation of Psychologists’ Association (EFPA) is an example. The 2006 Declaration on the European Standards of education and training in professional psychology (EuroPsy) offered a recommended set of standards for psychologists in independent practice that includes (European Federation of Psychologists’ Association, 2010):
1. Completion of education and training in psychology at a recognized University level of at least 6 years duration, including:
a. A university degree in psychology, which has a duration equivalent to at least 5 years of full-time study
b. At least 1 year of supervised practice (included in or added to the university degree program), and
2. Commitment in writing to the ethical code of psychologists in the country of practice and the European Metacode of ethics for psychologists.
In a similar vein, the Strategic Plan for the International Union of Psychological Science, adopted in 2008, lists the development of a common core in psychology as a major goal (International Union of Psychological Science [IUPsyS], 2010). Included in this charge is the development of standards and discipline-wide guidelines covering the definition and recognition of psychology and psychologists, education and training, curriculum development, ethics, and the responsible conduct of research and professional practice.
As international psychology grows and examines just what it means to be a psychologist, it is fair to ask what role the history of psychology will play. We hope that this volume contributes to efforts to internationalize the history of psychology. The chapters in this volume remind us that there are unique contexts and circumstances that influence the ways in which the science and practice of psychology are assimilated into our daily lives. Making these contexts and circumstances explicit through historical research and writing provides many benefits. Clearly, the field of psychology is becoming more and more specialized and, as it does so, it requires more specialized knowledge. In essence, the questions we ask are more narrow and specific, often at the expense of the larger, more meaningful questions. It can be argued that specialized knowledge acquires its meaning only from an understanding of its place in a broader intellectual context, an understanding made possible through the study of our history (Benjamin & Baker, 2009).
Given the important role that the history of psychology can play in advancing the discipline, we are hopeful that the history of psychology will find a place of significance in international psychology. Indeed, the purpose of this volume is to bring a historical perspective to international psychology. It is clear that there are colleagues around the world who are very much interested in, and see the value of, a historical approach to understanding psychology. Some of the authors in this volume have considerable experience and expertise in the history of psychology, many others do not, but this did not deter them from accepting the challenge of making the historical record more inclusive.
We believe that declaring the value of our shared history begins at the undergraduate level. Given the lack of any consensus about a core curriculum (p. 622) in psychology, it is not surprising that there is little available information about the teaching of the history of psychology at the undergraduate or graduate level around the world. In the United States, the history of psychology has had a presence in higher education throughout the 20th century. As a result, a substantial portion of the scholarship and research on the history of psychology (including textbooks) originates in the United States. In some ways, the status of the history of psychology in the United States serves as a bellwether. In this regard, it is interesting to consider the conclusions of Fuchs and Viney (2002), who studied the status of the teaching of the history of psychology in the United States:
That the course is offered by most departments and that many psychologists are committed to it is a positive sign for the future of the course. However, that optimistic interpretation is balanced by the small but nevertheless disturbing indication that some psychologists do not value the course sufficiently to commit staffing resources to it, that some departments will drop the course should the present instructor cease to offer it, and that a number of departments do not require the course for psychology majors. (p. 12).
It is not enough to simply label the history of a psychology as a value that psychologists should share. It is also necessary to create and maintain organizations and institutions that can provide resources for those interested in the history of psychology.
In North America in the mid-1960s, a critical mass of sorts was achieved for those interested in teaching, research, and scholarship in the history of psychology. Within the span of a few years, two major organizations appeared: Cheiron: The International Society for the History of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Division 26 (Society for the History of Psychology) of the American Psychological Association. Both sponsor annual meetings, and are affiliated with scholarly journals that provide an outlet for original research. Cheiron-Europe (now known as the European Society for the History of the Human Sciences; ESHH) was founded in 1982, and through annual meetings and a newsletter, serves as an important outlet for researchers and students interested in the history of psychology (Lafuente & Ferrándiz, 1991). In 1988, Sociedad Española de Historia de la Psicología (SEHP; the Spanish Society of the History of Psychology) was formed. In addition to an annual meeting, they publish Revista de Historia de la Psicología (Journal of the History of Psychology). An important institution in the generation of new knowledge is the doctoral training program in the history and theory of psychology at York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. A specialization in the theory and history of psychology is also offered in the department of psychology at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.
For the history of psychology to flourish, it is essential that there are repositories for original source material that can provide the data for historical research. The published record provides access to original source material through monographs and serials that are widely circulated and available in most academic libraries (including reference works such as indexes, encyclopedias, and handbooks). Hard-to-find and out-of-print material (newspapers, newsletters) are now much more easily available thanks to their proliferation in electronic resources. Too often, valuable sources of information (obituaries, departmental, and oral histories) that are vital to maintaining the historical record are not always catalogued and indexed in ways that make them readily available and visible. The most important of all sources of data are archival repositories. Within such repositories, one can find records of individuals (referred to as manuscript collections) and organizations (termed archival collections). Manuscript collections preserve and provide access to unique documents, such as correspondence, lab notes, drafts of manuscripts, grant proposals, and case records. Archival collections of organizations contain materials such as membership records, minutes of meetings, convention programs, and the like. Archival repositories provide, in essence, the “inside story,” free of editorial revision or censure and marked by the currency of time as opposed to suffering the losses and distortion of later recall. In much the same way, still images, film footage, and artifacts such as apparatus and instrumentation aid in the process of historical discovery.
As the history of psychology internationalizes there is more interest in, and awareness of, archival repositories. Most collections are organized on a national basis. The Center for the History of Psychology (CHP) at the University of Akron is one of the oldest and largest collections in the world devoted to the history of psychology. Since its founding in 1965, it has amassed an outstanding collection of materials including manuscripts, organizational records, instruments and apparatus, film, photographs, sound recordings, rare books, and psychological tests. Detailed information about these holdings can be found on the CHP website (www.uakron.edu/chp). Also in the United States is (p. 623) the American Psychological Association Archives (http://www.apa.org/about/archives/index.aspx). It provides records related to the American Psychological Association, the largest psychological association in the world. Germany is home to the Adolf-Würth-Center for the History of Psychology located at the University of Würzburg. Under the direction of Armin Stock, it offers a wealth of matieral (http://www.awz.uni-wuerzburg.de/en/archive/). The Virtual Laboratory at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin (http://vlp.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/index_html) also offers a rich collection of primary source materials in early experimental psychology. In Italy, there is a flurry of archival activity. At the University of Bari, the A. Mari Laboratory of the History of Applied Psychology opened online in 2003. The website (http://laboratoriodistoriadellapsicologia.com/index.php?section=home) includes images and explanations of a wide range of instruments and apparatus used in psychological research. The University Bicocca of Milan opened the Benussi Archive in 2005, followed by the Historical Archives of Italian psychology (http://www.archiviapsychologica.org/index.php?id=1040) in 2008. Efforts are under way to gather material from around Italy to include on a single website, to create a virtual study and work place (M. Sinatra, personal communication, June 6, 2010).
In South America, there is growing interesting archival collections. The Archives of the Federal University of Minas Geris on the History of Psychology in Brazil were established in 1997 (Campos, 2010). The archives hold a number of collections related to the growth of psychology and education in Brazil. Argentina has a number of growing collections in the history of psychology. At the National University of Cordoba, the Historical Archive of the Department of Psychology was created in 2007 and the Testimonial and Documentary Archive of the Department of Psychology is located at Buenos Aires University. Important documentary material related to history of psychology can also be found in the General Archives of the Argentine Republic that includes among its holdings case-histories of patients at the National Hospital of Women Mentally Ill (H. Klappenbach, personal communication, May 15, 2010). In many places such as Japan, efforts to establish archival repositories are under way (M. Takasuna, personal communication, April 12, 2010). Like colleagues in other countries, Japanese historians of psychology are finding the digital environment well suited to sharing historical data (http://www.l.u-tokyo.ac.jp/psy/psychoHP/history/english/index.html).
In the end, we are left with an important question: So what? What is the importance of an international history of psychology? What do we gain? The history of psychology will not end war or reduce poverty, but that is not the point. It is easily argued that an international history of psychology offers some instrumental benefits. The examination of psychology’s past provides not only a more meaningful understanding of that past, but a more informed and enriched appreciation of our present, and the best available data for making predictions about our future. It aids critical thinking by providing a compendium of the trials, tribulations, and advances that accrue from the enormous questions we ask of our science and profession, and it offers the opportunity to reduce the drift we seem to experience in relation to each other. The world is getting smaller and the challenges larger. Now, more than ever, we need to look to those places of mutual interest and understanding. Our shared history—rich in its similarities and differences—is an excellent place to start.
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