This sample Applied Psychology Research Paper is published for educational and informational purposes only. Like other free research paper examples it is not a custom research paper. If you need help with writing your assignment, please use research paper writing services and buy a research paper on any topic.
- Early Landmarks in Applied Research
- Clinical Psychology
- Educational Psychology
- Early Work in Organizational Settings
- Early Testing
- Interactions across Specialties
- The Institutionalization of Applied Psychology
- Significant Problems in Early Applied Research
- Inborn versus Learned (Acquired) Abilities
- Types of Measurement and Types of Diagnosis
- Studying People or Analyzing Situations
- Intervention versus Goal-Oriented Research
- The Influence of World War II (1939–1945)
- Theory and Practice: The Influence of the Era of Schools
- Gestalt psychology
- Humanistic psychology
- Marxian philosophy
- Applied Psychology in the Second Half of the 20th Century
- Ecological Psychology
- Traffic Safety Psychology
- Organizational Psychology
- Health Psychology
- Law Psychology
- Other Specialties
- General Trends
Theoretical and applied psychology have frequently been considered as two completely different ways of approaching and conceiving of mental and /or behavioral phenomena. Their lines of development have met one another from time to time. But most frequently they have remained unrelated, as different questions, instruments, and methodologies have dominated in each of them, creating two different worlds.
Interest in psychological questions goes back to ancient times, as proven by philosophical reflections and literary creations. The diversity of characters and the description of typical reactions to a variety of situations form the core of countless literary masterpieces all over the world. Nonetheless, neither philosophical reflections nor literary fantasies enter our tableau. Psychology conceived as an empirical science is little more than a century-old enterprise. For didactical purposes, Wilhelm Wundt’s laboratory at Leipzig University (1879) is credited with the honor of representing the first event in its history.
This new science tried to reformulate old questions about the nature of the human mind and its creations— knowledge, volition, choice, consciousness—and its connection with the biological organism that owned such a mind. Two main ideas dominated the second half of the 19th century: evolution and science (the third one would be democracy). While evolutionary theory brought forth the idea of a continuity between humans and the animal kingdom, positivism stressed the value of scientific knowledge in all empirical domains and stimulated the creation of a natural science of the human mind. In what relates to the third idea, democratic values would soon demand the application of that new knowledge to solve the problems of societies developing under the impulse of the industrial revolution.
Two main lines, biological and sociological, characterize the early developments of psychological research. While certain groups focused on physical and physiological determinants of human behavior, others insisted on socio-historical factors mediating mental processes. On the one hand, work in laboratories and theory construction were stressed; on the other hand, researchers relied on social and ethnological comparisons and became largely interested in practical knowledge.
In the early days of the 20th century, applied research was not an easy task. In the United States, Edward B. Titchener (1867–1927), a ‘‘pure scientist,’’ strongly opposed psychologists emerging from laboratories and facing daily life problems. He feared that their theories were not yet prepared for such a huge task. But demands could not wait unattended for long. Moreover, funds for research soon became dependent on practical results accredited by scientists. Little by little, applications began to follow theory, and science gave way to practical interventions; scientists were accompanied by practitioners, and psychology became a science as well as a profession, as it is at present.
Since its beginnings, interventions in psychology were characterized by the need for combining both a scientific background and information on the idiosyncratic characteristics of every practical problem. Applied science, in the case of psychology, has not only consisted of translating general principles to concrete circumstances, but also of creating new theoretical models that are fully in accordance with concrete data, trying to meet the particular demands, and gaining through such intervention new theoretical insights. Such circular interactions between research and theory were clearly stated by Kurt Lewin in his ‘‘action research’’ doctrine and have been frequently found by researchers in most of the practical fields.
Developments in the field have been deeply influenced by national trends. Progress cannot be reduced here to a single common process covering all countries and specialties. Three main areas did emerge, however, as their problems were found in all well-developed societies: (1) children’s adaptation to school, (2) worker’s adaptation to job requirements, and (3) people’s adaptation to the requirements of ‘‘normal’’ life in a social world. These areas led to the formation of school and educational psychology, industrial and organizational psychology, and clinical psychology, respectively. As time passed, the mapping of specialties became more and more complicated.
Certainly, among all these differences there are some common traits in these applications that may serve to unit and define the field of applied psychology. These traits will be considered after a general discussion of the field.
Early Landmarks in Applied Research
While the establishment of Wundt’s laboratory is a landmark that represents the first step, there is no formal beginning for applied psychology as such. In each specialty, however, the first steps have had some unique characteristics of their own that will be considered here.
It is not easy to disentangle clinical psychology from the fields of mental hygiene and psychiatry, but it might be accepted that problems and deficits in mental aptitudes can be seen as psychological problems, whereas deep mental disorders require medical treatment. The former will impair normal adaptation to life, while the latter will prevent normal functioning of the person among his relatives and in his private world.
The first steps in the field of clinical psychology stem from the introduction of the idea that a mental process and its abnormal functioning could be treated through behavioral/mental means, instead of using somatic or chemical procedures. An empirical approach to the study of mental disorders was demanded in this new science of the mind, as these disorders began to be seen as natural disturbances capable of being treated. Some epochal events took place in the year 1896. In Germany, a student of Wundt, psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin (1856–1926), first proposed the introduction of the psychological laboratory and the experimental study in psychiatry, in a seminal paper that has been called the first German program for clinical psychology. Kraepelin divided illnesses into two categories: those due to endogenous factors and those caused by exogenous ones; the former were viewed as usually incurable, while the latter had a better prognosis. Based on empirical grounds, he also worked on a classification of mental disorders that served for decades as a nosological system.
Also in 1896, an Italian psychiatrist, Giulio Cesare Ferrari (1868–1932), with G. Guicciardi, published a paper on mental tests that in their opinion could be employed in psychiatry to improve diagnosis. They tried to continue the pioneer work of Gabriele Buccola (1854–1885), who, working with patients suffering from mental disorders, found interesting variations in their reaction time measures. Ferrari and Guicciardi examined attention, associative abilities, and other mental capacities in patients in order to more accurately characterize their pathologies.
And it was in the same year when, in the United States, Lightner Witmer (1867–1956), another student of Wundt and Cattell, founded the first psychological clinic, at the University of Pennsylvania. Witmer became an apostle of the psychological intervention. At the American Psychological Association (APA) convention of that same year (1896), he maintained that psychologists had to assume two tasks: to study mental processes and to apply their knowledge to solve personal problems and social needs. He had to face the negative attitude of his colleagues, who did not wish to accept practical responsibilities. He decided to organize regular training courses at his university for people interested in applications of psychology, with case presentations and formation in diagnostic techniques, and also founded a journal, The Psychological Clinic (1907), that claimed to promote ‘‘orthogenics,’’ the knowledge of the correct development of individuals, both in physical and mental capabilities.
A different approach was carried out by William Healy (1869–1963), a physician who treated juvenile delinquency as a phenomenon he believed was rooted in certain psychopathological factors. He created a battery of proofs and applied them to young offenders, trying to determine their personalities and social factors in order to implement preventive and therapeutic interventions. His first clinic was established in Chicago (1909) and then he moved to Boston, where he retired.
In sum, demands for help from psychologists, coming from the social world, were based on the assumption that the new science of psychology, which was dealing with the normal functioning of the mind, could also say something about those pathologies now interpreted as mental disorders.
The 19th century saw the democratic rise of masses in Western countries, and basic education and training spread out to all individuals and classes. Many people became teachers, but they soon discovered that their job was not an easy one. Individuals are endowed with unequal learning capacities, and those prevented from normal schooling caused great disturbances in the classroom. Because their need for special treatment was ignored by most teachers, they turned to psychologists for orientation and help. Whereas old-fashioned schooling was based on memory and rote learning, some new tendencies stressed the role of an active process of learning and understanding, a true psychological topic. Teachers viewed psychology as the scientific basis for their own art of teaching.
The association paradigm became largely influential. In 19th century Germany, Johann F. Herbart’s (1776– 1841) association became the basis of the new science of education; in the United Kingdom, interest in these matters went back to empiricist philosophers, from John Locke to James Mill, whose ideas inspired 19th century psychologists such as Alexander Bain (1818– 1903) and James Sully (1842–1923). Sully made careful empirical studies of language, perception, memory, and other faculties in children, and wrote one of the first textbooks, Teacher’s Handbook of Psychology (1886).
French pedagogue Gabriel Compayre (1843–1913) wrote another textbook for teachers that included not only theoretical concepts on association and other mental aspects, but also practical topics, such as children’s plays, how to improve curiosity and memory, and the technology of teaching. His book was translated into Spanish by the great Argentinian educator and president, D. F. Sarmiento, and became influential among Latin American teachers and pedagogues.
Largely under the influence of Wundt’s psychology, an experimental pedagogy began to spread in Germany. Scientific knowledge of child development, based on observation and experiments, was systematized in the pioneering work of Wilhelm Preyer (1841–1897), The Soul of a Child. Pedagogues such as Wilhelm A. Lay (1862–1926) and Ernst Meumann (1862–1915) multiplied their efforts to provide psychological support to educational practices. Some of them stressed the need for building a global knowledge of child life, and a first draft was accomplished by German Oscar Chrismann in 1889, with his proposal of a ‘‘paidology’’—or ‘‘pedology’’— conceived of as a general science of the mental and physical development of the child. Centers for research and teaching were then founded, such as the Institute for Pedagogy and Experimental Psychology of Leipzig, and the Institute for Applied Psychology, created by William Stern and Otto Lipmann in Breslau, both founded in 1906. Specialized journals such as Zeitschrift fuer Kinderforschung (1895) also began to publish the results of their research.
Some educators spoke up against undue expectations of psychology. William James (1842–1910), in Talks to Teachers (1899) made clear the distinction between the science of psychology and the art of teaching, affirming that ‘‘sciences never generate arts directly out of themselves.’’ But some of his students, like Granville Stanley Hall (1846–1924), assembled a large body of knowledge about lifespan psychology (e.g., childhood, adolescence, senescence), and wrote a seminal work on ‘‘The Content of Children’s Mind on Entering School’’ (1883) in which he empirically explored the average knowledge of children in his society. This field soon became an active area of research. Hall expanded that paper into a book (1894), and founded the journal Pedagogical Seminary (1891), later renamed the Journal of Genetic Psychology.
Interactions between psychology and education multiplied rapidly, and benefited from the growing knowledge about children promoted by evolutionism. In Belgium, paidological topics received great attention, especially topics related to mental retardation. A. Sluys, J. Demoor, and Ovide Decroly (1871–1932), among others, made lasting contributions that became influential all over Europe. The latter encouraged the adoption of the New School model, which promoted the ideals of active learning and the view of the school as a laboratory.
Great attention was also paid to these topics in socialist countries. In Russia (in those days the Soviet Union), many centers oriented toward experimental study of child development and school education were founded, as the building of a ‘‘new man’’ was a political goal according to Marxist views. Lev Vygotsky (1896– 1934), Pavel Blonsky (1884–1941), Aron Zalkind (1888–1936) and others worked on this, stressing the social and practical roots of human consciousness. A Congress of Pedology gathered in 1928, a journal (Pedology, 1928–1932) was founded, and activity grew rapidly, until July 4, 1936, when a decree from the Communist Party headed by Josef Stalin halted testing and deemed nearly all psychological practices counterrevolutionary activities.
The ideals on active education were at the core of an institution created in Geneva, Switzerland in 1912 by Edouard Clapare`de (1873–1940), Pierre Bovet, and some collaborators, the Institute Jean Jacques Rousseau, which soon became a model for all who were interested in those topics. Clapare`de offered an overview of the field in his Psychologie de l’Enfant et Pedagogie Experimentale (Child Psychology and Experimental Pedagogy, 1905), in which he stressed the idiosyncratic nature of child life and the need of an educative system that is well adapted to the individual nature of every child and capable of giving effective guidance to students.
Some early studies had great impact on the field, such as research on formal discipline and its effects on concrete learning. In the United States, Edward L. Thorndike (1874–1949) and Robert S. Woodworth (1869–1962) performed experiments on the transfer of training that showed poor or negative aftereffects of a first learning task upon another following it. In doing so, they destroyed the belief that some benefits might be obtained from disciplines such as Latin or technical drawing upon other matters included in the curriculum. But the study of individual differences among children and a more detailed knowledge of the evolution of intellectual abilities and interests enabled teachers to adjust their teaching to the children’s capabilities.
Apart from these descriptive studies, more effective instruments for assessing children in schools were demanded. In response, some psychologists built instruments for screening deficits and assessing effective teaching. They initiated the application of proofs and measures to education.
Early Work in Organizational Settings
Western societies have created all sorts of organizations in which the principles of impersonal work, labor division, cooperation, and leadership applied. In modern states, people operate under the leadership of certain elites, and technology introduced during the industrial revolution is changing the world through the work of people working together. In the early decades of the 19th century, the need for a science of social movements and phenomena stimulated the creation of sociology, an accomplishment of French theorist Auguste Comte (1798–1857), the founder of positivism. Soon after, theorists tried to explain some dimensions of social life as mental phenomena, as well explain some psychological facts by social forces. Interactions between these fields multiplied, and psychological knowledge of individuals operating in a group or organization seemed more and more convenient. Aspects such as job–person fit, efficacy, performance quality, accident prone operators, and social competition were not without economic consequences. Enterprises in search of good operators soon incorporated psychological testing devices in order to find reliable and valuable workers. Psychology appeared as a science dealing with problems closely related to person–job adaptation, and soon society asked psychologists for help in the task of improving industries and social organizations.
The concept of applied psychology was first delineated by German William Stern (1871–1938). According to him, it was ‘‘the science of psychological facts that are relevant by their practical utility,’’ including both assessment and intervention (Dorsch, 1963, p. 9). Early essays on this topic are characterized by their spontaneity and diversity; frequently they were written by laymen interested in practical questions. For instance, Italian physiologist Angelo Mosso (1846– 1910) stressed the importance of analyzing the fatigue curves of workers to improve their performances; his findings and methods spread rapidly in Europe. On the other hand, a U.S. engineer, Frederic W. Taylor (1856– 1915), working for important steel companies, studied their production from the point of view of the productive behaviors and their timing and morphologies, giving place to a movement called the ‘‘scientific organization of labor,’’ that applied the scientific methodology to the study of people’s efficiency at work, and the ways to improve it. Although not a psychologist himself, he applied psychological techniques—reaction time, movement studies, cooperation among workers, economic incentives—in trying to combine personal satisfaction with greatest worker efficiency at the risk of being judged an inhumane manager. His proposals introduced a new concept to industries, and while social movements and trade unionism shook developed societies, the problems of people at work began to be viewed under the light of psychology. Taylorism paved the way for a more specialized organizational psychology.
The new climate brought new fruits. Frank Parsons created the Boston Vocation Bureau (1908), convinced that a test for discovering motives and aptitudes in individuals could improve their professional adaptation. As a philanthropist, he wanted to help people in search of a job, and his center considered many aspects: people’s abilities, technical and moral training needed, self-understanding, and the material conditions of the job.
A world becoming dominated by technical apparatuses and procedures demanded efficient people for using them. Car driving and traffic security also stimulated the screening of potential accident prone drivers via psychological testing, a task in which German researchers Walter Moede (1888–1958) and Curt Piorkowski (1888–1939) did significant work employing driving simulators. Motion studies of bricklayers done by Lillian M. Gilbreth (1878–1972) and Frank Gilbreth (1869–1924), and of typist’s abilities done by Jean M. Lahy (1872–1943), among others, stimulated the research, but it was Hugo Munsterberg (1863– 1916), the ‘‘father of psychotechnics,’’ who was the first to face the problem in its entirety and gave a certain solution.
Trained under Wundt, then working with James at Harvard University, Munsterberg conceived of psychotechnology as the ‘‘science of practical applications of psychology in the service of culture’’ (1914). His books on industrial efficiency, teaching, and eyewitness testimony offered a broad view of psychology as a practical science. He devised proofs and testing situations that proved useful for personnel selection, and received much support from businessmen and industry managers. His works describe the new field of psychological intervention as a coherent whole, in which demands were idiosyncratic, but techniques were interspecific and largely versatile in themselves. Person, situation, and means-ends relations were the significant elements to take care of in every practical intervention.
Early psychophysics—the scientific study of stimuli and the correlated sensory experience—found systematic variations in sensory and motor abilities among individuals. One of the pillars of Darwin’s evolutionism was the existence of spontaneous variations among individuals who were unequally endowed, in order to cope with the challenges of their environment and subject to natural selection.
Francis Galton (1822–1911), who was deeply influenced by evolutionism, studied such variations and devised a battery of tests to measure differences in various types of capacities among subjects. He applied such proofs in an anthropometric laboratory at the International Health Exhibition of South Kensington in 1884, and created some statistics to sum up his data.
James McKeen Cattell (1860–1944), a U.S. student of both Wundt and Galton, had a long-lasting invention: the construction of standard proofs to compare the performance of different people. In 1890, he coined the expression ‘‘mental test’’ for measuring mental capacities, which spread out all over the world and became a symbol for psychology as a profession. His presidential address at the APA convention in 1895 enforced the need to present to society not only scientific but also material successes in the practical field, in order to enhance the status of psychology; the simplest experimental situation in which a person could be studied and measured was the test. For that reason, tests grew without limitation in the 1920s and 1930s.
In Germany, Hermann Ebbinghaus (1850–1909) devised a completion test, in which some missing letters had to be found, for assessing the effects of fatigue in school children, a type of proof frequently used since then. But it was Alfred Binet (1857–1911) who, with his collaborator Victor Henri (1872–1940), made an epochal contribution: the metric scale for intelligence (1905), a worldwide test for assessing intellectual abilities, allowing the determination of the relative position of a child (his ‘‘mental age’’) among a certain population. Moreover, intelligence soon appeared to be highly correlated with most mental abilities, as a kind of broad cognitive strength or general factor influencing all types of performances in which those abilities operate, as found by Charles Spearman (1863–1945).
Evaluation and comparisons between individuals became then possible. Age was the basis for comparisons in Binet’s system; a further step to get a stable index across ages came from German psychologist William Stern (1871–1938), who introduced the concept of the intelligence quotient (IQ), the ratio of mental age to chronological age, a score that seemed to remain unchanged along the years. Its measure became a highly valuable index of a person’s capabilities and a good predictor of future performances.
Benefits from the possibility of measuring intelligence began to appear everywhere. School was only one field interested in such measures; social life, job selection, even clinical practice soon could profit in different ways from this measurement. The various branches of psychological practice began, little by little, to cross-fertilize each other, and their methods and purposes approached each other, producing a certain unification of the applied field as a whole.
Interactions across Specialties
Three main facts caused the explosion of applications of psychology to social problems: the usefulness of intelligence testing for successful prediction of future performance; the growing need of a scientific explanation for the behavior of people in organizations shaken by social and political unrest; and the rise of a clinical view of abnormality in the light of psychological conflicts of personality, as in the contributions of Sigmund Freud (1856–1938). All these historical innovations converged in viewing mind and behavior as the Gordian knot of the problems of modern societies. Psychologists were asked to respond to those problems, and an external event, World War I (1914– 1918), provided the opportunity to prove their social efficiency. As Cattell wrote, it ‘‘put psychology on the table,’’ and nobody could ignore it.
War and military needs can be considered as some of the strongest stimuli for developing psychology in societies. World War I gave a great impetus to all the applied branches; the areas of assessment and personnel selection, and also clinical intervention upon war caused psychopathologies, quickly developed. Three main problems emerged during wartime: war neuroses (then called shell-shock), the health of munitions workers (menaced by industrial fatigue), and military personnel selection.
In the United States, psychologists from the APA, headed by R. Yerkes (1917) and considered as a part of the medical division, worked out a test battery (the Army Alpha for literates, and Army Beta for illiterates) for assessing soldiers. Both proved to be effective. Examinations were given to more than one and a half million people, and since then, tests have been an indispensable part of any personnel selection. The war also was the motivation for the creation of some clinical instruments, like the personal data questionnaire (1918) devised by R.S. Woodworth (1869–1962) to detect symptoms of a neurotic tendency. With the end of the war, these particular activities greatly diminished.
The war also promoted the introduction of psychology as part of the Army services in Germany. There some regular positions for psychologists were created in 1925, mainly oriented toward officer selection. This number increased after 1935, as military psychology became synonymous with psychology under the Nazi government. In Great Britain, the war brought the problem of industrial fatigue to the forefront. In munitions factories, people had doubled their working time, and physical and mental disorders rapidly appeared, affecting the subjects’ health and efficiency. To face the situation, a Health of Munitions Workers Committee was set up by the government in 1915; it was renamed the Industrial Fatigue Research Board (1917) and then became the National Institute of Industrial Psychology (1921), headed by Charles S. Myers (1873–1946). Similar efforts were carried out in other countries. Airplane pilots were urgently needed, and they were examined by psychologists. In Italy, Father Agostino Gemelli (1878–1959), founder of the first psychophysiological laboratory of the Italian Army, did his best to develop applied psychology in his country in the 1920s and 1930s; in France, Camus and Nepper (1915) did similar work.
Around the same time, the first centers for applied psychology began to appear. In the United States, a psychology department was established in 1915 at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, headed by Walter Van Dyke Bingham (1880–1952), and a year later, Walter Dill Scott (1869–1955) was appointed as professor of applied psychology, the first to receive that title in that country. Vocational counseling, industrial efficiency, and related topics began to be treated as academic matters, so the time was ripe for institutions to specialize in those questions. For example, the Kaiser Wilhelm Institut, the Laboratory for Industrial Psychotechnology from Charlottenburg, the Institute for Work in Moscow, the Institute of Professional Orientation of Barcelona, the Institute Jean-Jacques Rousseau at Geneve, the Psychological Laboratory at the Catholic University of Sacred Heart (Milan), the Institute of Scientific Organization at Warsaw, the Intercommunal Center for Professional Guidance at Bruxelles, the Laboratory for Ergonomics of the Institute of Higher Studies of Belgium, the Laboratory of Experimental Psychology of the School for Higher Studies at Paris, the Center for Professional Orientation, and the Bos Institute (the Netherlands), among others, became active centers for training, testing, and research. These institutions and centers were created to face social demands, and utility was the dominant criterion accepted by researchers, although in the long run many theoretical contributions were produced from such practical work.
The Institutionalization of Applied Psychology
The period that followed World War I brought with it the normal problems in a rapidly growing field without any internal regulation, mainly under external pressures. Psychology was acknowledged as a useful instrument for social work, and its techniques for personnel selection spread both to private firms and to governmental agencies.
To face the new demands, psychologists tried to set up several professional networks. The need for coordination and the convenience of employing common instruments for assessment stimulated the foundation of an international society for applied psychology, was the Association Internationale des Conferences de Psychotechnique (International Association for Psychotechnology). Rooted in Europe but open to the whole world, it held its first meeting, chaired by Swiss Edouard Clapare`de (1873–1941) in Geneva in 1920; in 1955 it changed its name to the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP). The society provided a useful platform for cooperation, but was greatly affected by the political circumstances that led to World War II; 15 years passed between the 8th Congress, held in Prague in 1934 and the 9th, held in Bern in 1949. Since then, it has gathered regularly. The IAAP has been headed by leading scientists: Edouard Claparede (1920–1941), Henri Pieron (1947–1953), Clifford Frisby (1953–1958), Morris S. Viteles (1958– 1968), Gunnar Westerlund (1968–1974), Edwin A. Fleishman (1974–1982), Claude Levy-Leboyer (1982– 1990), Harry C. Triandis (1990–1994), Bernhard Wilpert (1994–1998), Charles D. Spielberger (1998– 2002), and Michael Frese (2002–present).
Many other international associations have been created to serve the multiple interests of psychologists. The International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS) was created in 1951, grouping together many previous national associations. While its roots go far back (a first International Congress of Psychology took place in Paris in1889), the IUPsyS now represents psychology in international councils of science and culture. Also, the Interamerican Psychological Society (Sociedad Interamericana de Psicologia, SIP), was founded in 1951 to cover the needs of psychologists from the entire American continent; it is very active at present. Many other specialized societies have flourished in parallel to the growth of the profession and the scientific field.
An outstanding society as measured by its size and activities is the American Psychological Association (APA). Founded by G. S. Hall in 1892, in its beginnings it covered only scientific matters. Therefore, applied oriented psychologists created the American Association of Clinical Psychologists in 1917, but finally this group was included in the APA in 1919 as a clinical section dedicated to professional issues. A new group called the American Association for Applied Psychology was founded in 1937 to better serve practical interests. It edited a journal (Journal of Consulting Psychology), but eventually it too joined the APA in 1945, forming a strong society, organized in various divisions, oriented to both science and profession.
The growing complexity of the applied field necessitated a communication network that could disseminate specialized information. During the years of war, some periodicals began to appear. In Germany in 1916, the Institute for Applied Psychology of Leipzig edited the Zeitschrift fuer Angewandte Psychologie [Journal of Applied Psychology] under the care of William Stern and Otto Lipmann. In 1917 in the United States, G. Stanley Hall initiated the publication of the Journal of Applied Psychology, another one of the leading journals in the field. It was soon managed by James P. Porter (1920–1942), and later owned by the American Psychological Association. Other significant journals have been the Revue de Psychologie Appliquee [Review of Applied Psychology] (1920), and Human Factor (1932), under the sponsorship of the National Institute of Industrial Psychology and the initial editorship of C. S. Myers. Since then, the network has developed enormously, and the creation of the Annual Review of Psychology (1950) and more recently the data banks that have been built in many specialties have introduced a new order into the information chaos.
Significant Problems in Early Applied Research
Some basic problems arose during the evolution of applied psychology. The following sections briefly describe some examples of these problems.
Inborn versus Learned (Acquired) Abilities
Theorists had to decide whether human abilities were innate or learned; testing procedures and measurements raised suspicions and opposition among socially involved groups on political grounds. Large differences in measurements between various classes and ethnicities raised political doubts about the fairness of procedures that, in fact, introduced discrimination between races, classes, and individuals. In addition, an increasing number of dimensions of life were subject to study under this methodology.
One subject of intense debate was intelligence. Did the result of testing stem from the inborn characteristic of the person or from the social conditions of the person’s life? Early on, Francis Galton (1822–1911) was inclined toward a genetic solution to the dilemma. In the United States, H. H. Goddard (1866–1957), a Binet follower, reinforced that opinion. He compared two lines of descendants, both legitimate and illegitimate, flowing from a common ancestor and examined their achievements and life records. He concluded that hereditary factors explained most of the variance, as the legitimate family was largely superior to the other one in intellectual and moral qualities.
Different races and cultures were also compared on the basis of their performance on intelligence tests. Data from the Army Alpha and Beta tests were studied and reanalyzed in the United States. Significant differences in IQ among people from various ethnic origins were supposedly found. Among other questioned results, the intellectual weakness of African Americans seemed to be firmly established on these grounds. According to Garrett (1951), ‘‘Negro soldiers scored lower than whites on Alpha, southern Negroes lower than northern Negroes.’’ Following these results, democracy was criticized by some groups on the grounds of offering political equality to unequally mentally endowed people. Racist arguments seemed to flow from psychological data. As a consequence, U.S. federal law regulating immigration excluded all ‘‘persons of constitutional psychopathic inferiority.’’
Other voices joined the choir. In Europe, data obtained by H. English and others suggested a strong correlation between economic level and IQ and pointed to non-inborn factors in intelligence scores. The discussion was deeply affected by political prejudices and attitudes. IQ testing was then criticized on political grounds. In the United States, an influential journalist, W. Lippmann (1899–1974), strongly criticized the testing procedures for taking scores as true measures instead of rough estimates of variable qualities in subjects.
In Russia, then under the Soviet regime, a ban on all testing activities in schools was imposed by the Communist Party’s Central Committee. They deemed such activities a ‘‘pedological perversion,’’ considering tests as reactionary and anti-egalitarian techniques. Given the thesis of the social determination of consciousness caused by socioeconomic factors, the idea of inborn abilities was seen as unacceptable. Such a decision greatly impaired the development of empirical psychology in the country for decades.
As is well known, this debate has endured for an entire century and at certain moments has become intertwined with political attitudes. The works of A. R. Jensen (1967), H. J. Eysenck (1971), L. Kamin (1974), S. J. Gould (1981), R. Herrnstein, and C. Murray (1994) represent only a small part of the vast literature generated by this controversy.
Today, heredity and environment are placed in a completely different relationship, as genetic engineering has resulted in a complete mapping of genes. Proteins related to organic and mental functioning are now beginning to be discovered, and intervention at such microscopic levels will be possible in the future, opening the way to biological techniques of medical and psychological value.
Types of Measurement and Types of Diagnosis
A long-ranging debate commenced between those inclined to build diagnoses upon a collection of measures, including personality traits and abilities, and those who limited themselves to the study of the subjects’ aptitudes directly related to the job they were applying for. In the early days, theorists such as German O. Lippmann (1880–1933) tended toward a holistic approach, while many others (e.g., Belgian A. Christiaens) favored the opposite view.
The debate evolved into the opposition between qualitative and quantitative (psychometric) procedures for assessing people. The former was frequently called clinical methodology, because it focused on concrete phenomena affecting a single subject (idiographic methods), while the latter was frequently referred to as statistical methodology, as far as it employed quantitative measures obtained from groups of subjects through psychometric tests (nomothetic methods). For instance, some theorists, such as Swiss cognitivist Jean Piaget (1896–1980), firmly rejected the use of psychometric proofs, convinced they gave wrong information about the child’s mind, and systematically employed clinical procedures. Researchers also developed instruments to generate and appreciate qualitative experiences that might be directly related to mental forces and impulses—the projective techniques, which included well-known proofs such as Rorschach’s inkblot test (1921) and Murray’s Thematic Apperception Test (1938). Hermann Rorschach (1884–1922), a Swiss psychiatrist, wrote Psychodiagnostik based on the experimental study of characteristic answers to some inkblots provided by different criteria groups of psychiatric patients. On the other hand, many psychologists tried to devise laboratory situations closely related to those found in real situations.
Opposition to mental measurement also grew from theoretical grounds. Behaviorism, which largely dominated U.S. psychology between the 1920s and 1960s, banned all mental-based concepts from its system, especially from all its clinical topics. It stated that psychology should deal only with behavioral facts and laws, and each individual should be tested in definite settings, in order to establish those precise S-R associations determining his or her behavior. Adaptive or maladaptive habits were substituted for old personality traits, and behavioral changes were evaluated in order to assess the effectiveness of various procedures of behavior modification. New instruments based on observational procedures were developed, employing sampling recording of target behaviors in single subject (n = 1) cases; these techniques substituted for traditional tests and questionnaires.
Studying People or Analyzing Situations
Early psychotechnology tried to study the adaptation of a person to a situation by comparing the person’s qualities to the requirements of each type of situation. Typologies and professions were its main fruits. But some unfitting data opened the door to the study of work as a global social situation. Surprising data emerged from some studies on work efficiency carried out by George Elton Mayo (1880–1949) and collaborators on employees of the Western Electric Company in Hawthorne, Chicago. An in-depth study with those workers showed that their efficiency at work was mainly dependent not on physical factors at the workplace but on social characteristics of the group—informal rules, leadership, social climate, expectations, and fears—and also from the fact that they were receiving attention from researchers, a fact that influenced the feelings of those workers. Mayo, F. G. Roethlisberger, W. J. Dixon, and G. Homans placed emphasis on human relations in industry and stressed the relevance of the ‘‘human meaning’’ of work and the necessity of a holistic approach to work problems. Significant developments in this theory were obtained when extra-organizational variables, such as technological and market changes, religion, race, and social class, were also taken into account by the Chicago school (W. L.Warner and colleagues) and other groups.
All these experiences showed the need to study the characteristics and behaviors of groups. Gestalt psychologist Kurt Lewin (1890–1947) emerged as a leader in that field. His ideas influenced not only the general field of social psychology, but also the study of applied aspects, such as the relationship between school climate and teaching efficiency. Lewin, R. Lippitt, and R. K. White evaluated the effect of different group atmospheres—democratic, authoritarian, and laissez faire—upon school teaching and group interactions. Leadership proved to be an important variable, and various models of it have been devised to explain empirical data. Results from industrial settings were transferred to educational and clinical fields. Group psychotherapies have been applied since the 1920s by Alfred Adler (1870–1937) and coworkers, and group interactions proved fruitful in handling feeling and personality disorders. Well into the 1950s, group psychology developed a variety of forms and applications: for instance, T (training) groups were created that offered training in skills and interpersonal communication; encounter groups were employed for therapeutic discussions in humanistic psychotherapies. A special place in this line of thought belongs to the Tavistock Institute (UK) founded in 1947. It focused on the interactions between technological and psychosocial aspects of organizations, and tried to combine psychoanalytic concepts and the group dynamics as developed by the Lewinian group of theorists. A. K. Rice, E. L. Trist, W. R. Bion, and many others helped the development of this movement, and its journal, Human Relations (1947) maintained a comprehensive perspective in the field.
Intervention versus Goal-Oriented Research
As applied psychology rapidly developed, more and more concrete questions absorbed the interest of researchers, who began to specialize in a small range of topics and to sight of the entire field. An increasing distance began to appear between theory and applications, and as a result, some tried to restore the communication between both fields.
After World War II, clinical psychologists in the United States felt the necessity of combining practice with research. In a conference at Boulder, Colorado in 1949 they devised the so-called Boulder model, which recommended ‘‘the training of the clinical psychologist for research and practice, with equal emphasis on both’’ (Raimy, 1950). This model has been widely accepted, and is still in force among specialists.
Similarly, social psychologists doing research and intervention in social settings were warned by K. Lewin in 1948 that their interventions had to be organized ‘‘in a spiral of steps each of which . . . composed of a circle of planning, action, and fact-finding about the result of the action.’’ In combining planning, action, and evaluation, researchers will adjust themselves to a Lewinian ‘‘action research’’ model that puts together theory and action into a single operation, a model assumed by most social scientists. These innovations perceived practice and theory as two dimensions of the same impulse toward knowledge.
The Influence of World War II (1939–1945)
World War II deeply changed the social scene, and all aspects of human life, including psychology, felt its impact. Numerous institutions, researchers, and schools of thought were destroyed or silenced by the war. In Europe, an enormous number of scientists and intellectuals belonging to Jewish families were persecuted and even killed in countries placed under the Nazi regime. Psychologists were no exception. Many of them fled to the United States or to other countries, and European psychology, until then considered the best in the field, lost its position of leadership to the United States.
In Germany, some psychologists carried out research for the new regime. The German army established a Wehrmacht psychological division, which performed the selection of specialists and officers; the Reich Institute for Psychological Research and Psychotherapy trained ‘‘doctor psychologists’’ for psychotherapeutic labor. Psychologists found new professional perspectives not limited to the academic field; at the same time, people teaching in universities had to show their loyalty to the racist ideology then dominating the country.
Likewise, many psychologists in the United States worked for the U.S. army, doing personnel selection, training, and psychotherapy. Limited but important research was also carried out on topics like morals, propaganda, and psychological warfare. Well-known researchers such as R. M. Yerkes (1876–1956) and E. G. Boring (1886–1968), among others, made great contributions to that effort; more than a thousand professionals worked full time to face the emergency. During that time, a new test (the Army General Classification Test) was administered to some 12 million soldiers. Its results favored an in-depth study on aptitudes and abilities.
The war also brought to the fore new problems and research topics for psychologists. Studies on visual perception in flight situations fostered new research in ecological theory like that carried out by James J. Gibson (1904–1979); new techniques for radar detection systems paved the way for a new psychophysics, based on signal detection and decision theory; vigilance and task monotony induced new research on stimulus deprivation and attention processing; race prejudice and antisemitism stimulated research on authoritarian personality by Theodor Adorno (1903– 1969) and colleagues; and information theory, developed by Claude Shannon (1916–2001), and cybernetics, by Norbert Wiener (1894–1964), were theoretical advances born from practical needs that soon induced new developments in psychological theory as well as in the world of automation; post-traumatic stress disorders and the demand for help from clinical psychologists stimulated research in this field emphasizing the relationship between organic (somatic) reactions and social experiences. War tied together theory and practice, after all.
Theory and Practice: The Influence of the Era of Schools
Theoretical psychology experienced in the first half of the 20th century an extraordinary diversification of its viewpoints. That period has been frequently called the era of schools. Some viewpoints became largely dominant, and conflicts between them arose both in theoretical and practical questions. Behaviorism, Gestalt, psychoanalysis, and the humanistic approach were among the most influential perspectives in the United States; in the European countries, on the other hand, functionalism and factorialism became very influential. In certain cases, a special doctrine was dominant—as is the case of the Marxist-based Soviet psychology that monopolized Russia under the Soviet regime, or the Piagetian school that influenced European child and school psychology in the middle of the century. These schools of thought are briefly described in the following sections.
Behaviorism, created by John B. Watson (1878– 1958), made behavior the proper object of study for psychologists, while excluding mind and consciousness as ‘‘subjective non-public entities’’ and, as such, unsuitable for science. Built upon an S-R (stimulus-response) paradigm, theory was conceived of as a guide for exerting technological control over behavior. Since its early days, behaviorism advocated significant applied research. Watson himself wrote a book on child training that was largely influential among U.S. families in the 1930s; he was also for many years a practitioner of commercial and advertising techniques.
Predicting and changing behavior became an essential function of psychologists; the practical value of such control gave birth to an entire field, ‘‘behavior modification,’’ that applied the laws of learning and motivation to changing people’s behavior. Pioneering work was carried out by one of Watson’s students, Mary Cover Jones, who, based on Watson’s ideas of conditioning, devised a successful treatment of a phobia in a child.
Behavior modification appears to be a case of a multiple discoveries that took place in the early 1950s. Burrus F. Skinner (1904–1990) in the United States, Joseph Wolpe (1915–1997) in South Africa, and Hans J. Eysenck (1916–1997) in Great Britain all had the same idea of conceiving mental disorders as learned (maladaptive) behaviors, subject to change for the better (re-learning) under adequate manipulation of effective variables. The new approach rapidly spread to the Western countries. In the United States, a large group of researchers oriented themselves toward the applied behavior analysis, devising interventions on social problems according to its principles. In Latin America, where psychoanalysis largely dominated in the 1940s and 1950s, behavioral techniques appeared as a greatly desired alternative in clinical practice. Under the influence of some U.S. specialists, the movement began to consolidate in the1960s in Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, and Colombia, and the Latin-American Association for the Behavior Analysis and Modification (ALAMOC) was founded in 1975. A similar phenomenon took place in European countries, where these techniques proliferated in the 1960s, and the European Association for Behavior Therapy was created in 1970. Adepts to these principles were oriented toward practice or toward theoretical questions. Techniques for handling stimuli and motives have been devised and applied to nearly every human situation—schools, family, industries, therapies, and so on. While very effective in multiple settings, behaviorism has also been criticized for its appearance of merely dealing with symptoms, with total neglect for the causes of behavior. After the emergence of the cognitive paradigm, a combined approach—the cognitive behavior modification—was generated; it focused on cognitive control and influence upon behavior as a means of rebuilding a healthy state.
Psychoanalysis, created by Austrian psychiatrist Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), has turned into one of the biggest intellectual and social constructions of the 20th century, influencing all subject matters related to humankind, including religion, society, art, sex, and morality. In its applied version, it has largely influenced the clinical approaches to the treatment of mental and behavioral disorders. Two points should be mentioned here: (1) as a form of psychotherapy, psychoanalysis has a few core concepts— the unconscious determination of conscious behavior, the presence of dynamic conflicts between instinctual forces and other social and moral repressive ones, etc.—that have adopted an endless variety of forms maintained by hundreds of schools and groups, but that have raised strong doubts about the therapeutic efficacy and the scientific status of their basic assumptions. In many cases, hermeneutic and philosophical nature of psychoanalysis has been acknowledged, while leaving in suspense its scientific claims. And (2), most of its practitioners have received medical training and licenses, and their techniques are viewed as an essential part of contemporary psychiatry.
Gestalt psychology, initiated in Germany in 1912 under the inspiration of German psychologist Max Wertheimer (1886–1943), claimed that all behavior always follows a mental structure in which all stimuli coming from the outside world and from the subject’s body form a mental whole that determines open responses to situations. Although it is mainly a theoretical construction, a large number of applications were devised by one of its leading figures, K. Lewin, to solve problems in school and organizational settings. Gestalt theorists put great emphasis on mental variables such as perception, expectations, values, need for achievement, leadership, and group pressure that proved useful in predicting and explaining behavior in different types of social situations. Important developments on group processes were carried out by former Lewin students Dorwin Cartwright, Leo Festinger, and Stanley Schachter, among others; they received much attention in social and clinical settings.
Humanistic psychology (sometimes called ‘‘the third force’’) is a reaction to the reductionism imposed by behaviorism and to the irrationality and unconsciousness emphasized by psychoanalysis. It stresses meaning and values as essential determinants of human behavior. Self-fulfillment, life goals, and personal growth are some of the concepts that are at the core of this movement. Born in the United States, it has been largely influenced by European philosophies such as M. Heidegger and J. P. Sartre’s existentialism and E. Husserl’s phenomenology. Abraham Maslow (1908– 1970), Carl Rogers (1902–1987), and Charlotte Buhler (1883–1974) are some of the names associated with it; all of them significantly contributed to psychotherapy, and their insights were taken as bases for a technique of personal development that proved fruitful in the world of management and human relations. Close to these views are some other clinical approaches that also emphasize the role of subjective feelings, cognition, and emotions; these processes deeply influence the subject’s mind in its interactions with the world. A. T. Beck’s cognitive therapy, A. Ellis’s rational emotive therapy, and F. Perls’s Gestalt therapy, among others, have widened the spectrum of ways to intervene in psychopathological problems.
While these schools largely dominated the U.S. scene, different lines of thought were prevalent in Europe, such as functionalism, a movement with American roots (e.g., William James, John Dewey) but with robust development in Great Britain, Switzerland, and other Western countries. Functionalism stressed the relevance of the ‘‘what for’’ considerations when applied to psychological acts and aptitudes, and mainly focused on life’s needs and demands. Industrial psychologist Charles S. Myers (1873–1947) exerted great influence on some of his students; among them was Sir Frederic Bartlett (1886–1969), who was interested in real life problems, and who did significant work on memory and thinking inside a functionalist framework. Swiss functionalist Edouard Clapare`de applied these views to child and educational psychology, and one of his collaborators, the Swiss theorist Jean Piaget (1896– 1980), deepened those insights and built a major system in epistemology and knowledge, offering a solid view on the biological bases of cognitive development— from reflex action to logical operations—and its sequential stages. As is well known, Piagetian ideas have greatly influenced education in many countries.
Last but not least, the Marxian philosophy (historical materialism) that inspired the Soviet regime in Russia (the Soviet Union between 1917 and 1990) also was the basis for a worldview embracing humankind and society that influenced all dimensions of knowledge. Psychology was no exception.
Political theorists such as Karl Marx (1818–1883) and Vladimir Lenin (1870–1924) were considered conceptual leaders in every scientific and cultural field. Human life, guided by the conscious mind, was organized through a process of active interactions with the world, but human actions received their ultimate meaning from the socioeconomic structure in which people lived. Consciousness ultimately depended on the production system dominating society. As a consequence, it stressed the unity between consciousness and activity, and, furthermore, between theory and practice.
Lenin, while denouncing ‘‘bourgeois exploitation’’ in Taylorism and other Western labor theories, gave priority to those studies related to work. In 1927, the All-Russia Psychotechnical Society was established, and in 1931 the 7th International Psychotechnical Conference took place in Moscow. Well-known specialists in educational matters, such as Nadezhda Krupskaya (1869–1939), Isaak N. Spielrein (1891– 1936?), and Lev Vygotsky (1896–1934), tried to synthesize the Marxist view with recent Western developments; all of them suffered from prosecution in the days of Jozef Stalin’s personality cult in the late 1930s, and for nearly two decades their ideas and works were banned and silenced. During this time, psychology focused on practical (social) activity as causing mental organization through brain structures. Marxian views seemed to fit well with Pavlovian psychophysiology, and theoretical and applied questions became more closely connected. The significant growth of Soviet psychology since the 1950s was based on the cooperation of these two lines of thought. Alexei Leontiev’s (1903–1979) idea of activity, largely based on Vygotskyan analyses, spread out to other fields, such as Alexander Luria’s (1902–1977) defectology and neuropsychology. The world race for space supremacy, that in the 1960s involved the United States and the USSR, stimulated man–machine research, with outstanding contributions such as Boris Lomov’s (1927–1989) industrial psychology and Vladimir Zinchenko’s ergonomics, among others.
The end of the Soviet regime in 1990 brought with it the fall of its previous political and philosophical framework, and a new freedom for thought emerged, in which many Western schools and tendencies then flourished.
Applied Psychology in the Second Half of the 20th Century
In the decades that followed World War II, enormous growth took place in psychology that covered most of the facets of human activity and work, in many cases producing interdisciplinary research. Theory also experienced significant changes that have been frequently interpreted as the rise of a new, cognitive paradigm. According to this paradigm, humans should be viewed as information-processing systems, and consciousness, cognitions, affections, and emotions reflect the richness and complexity of such a system. Substantial inspiration for the new paradigm came from applied areas. Swiftly developing computer technology opened new ways to the study of behavior based on the computer model (metaphor) of the brain.
Structure and qualities of behavior referred both to organism and to environment, whose complex interactions had to be analyzed into terms of plans, projects, expectations, and values. Plans and structure of the human operator parallel the software–hardware dimensions of a computer. A vast program launched to examine analogies and possibilities of the new metaphor for psychological research brought up new lines of thought: behavior simulation by computers, artificial intelligence, computer-assisted learning, expert programs of various specialized tasks (e.g., medical diagnosis), and mental activity viewed as the operation of an information-processing system (IPS). Such a system should be viewed as an ‘‘open system,’’ in which the operator unit and its environment exchange information signals, energy, materials, and causative interactions. The entire complex (P-E) integrates both person (P) and environment (E) in continuous interaction.
A cursory review of some of the more significant developments that took place in this period are presented here, without any pretension of exhaustiveness.
The P-E model, as described above, is at the core of an ecological approach to psychology. The environment is mainly viewed in its material aspect, and human behavior is then examined in the light of the physical determinants of its medium and their influences and constraints upon the activity of the subject. Roger Barker (1968), influenced by Lewin’s ideas, conceived of the field as a study of objective contexts influencing behavior, a hypothesis full of consequences for other disciplines such as urban and home designs, geriatrics, and child care, among others. At present, environmental psychology, defined as a study of the relationships between people and their physical environments, examines a large range of questions, from coping with disaster or crime and environment to developing positive attitudes toward nature and protecting nature against human destructiveness.
Traffic Safety Psychology
Closely connected with the preceding, psychology has developed conceptual and technical approaches to behavior of drivers and pedestrians in traffic. Many psychological functions (perceptual, motor, emotions, risk-seeking, and so on) have a strong influence in determining traffic accidents. Although this field is as old as applied research, recent developments in motivation, risky decisions, and accident-prone personality have added new dimensions to it. In several countries, psychologists are now working on the screening of potentially dangerous drivers and in the design of public campaigns for the promotion of safe attitudes in driving situations.
Organizations are the most frequent social environment for women and men in developed societies. Industries, educative and health institutions, and political organizations are social structures imposing facilities and constraints on their members, which in turn activate their psychological abilities to adapt and to achieve their goals inside those structures. As a matter of fact, this denomination has nearly come to represent what industrial psychology was covering some decades ago (e.g., personnel selection, human relations), stressing its structural approach to these types of problems.
Some significant lines of thought on this field that developed in the early decades of the century were noted earlier. In the second half of the century, organizational psychology has grown, and in some cases it has dominated the sociotechnological approach. Other groups stressed the relevance of humanistic aspects and of combining the needs of both the individual and the organization, trying to arrive at a situation of balanced forces contributing to the whole structure and viewing organizational behavior as based on bounded rationality.
Organizations operate in a changing world, and need to maintain their adjustment to the environment through changes taking place inside and outside their own boundaries. A vast technology has been developed to provide them with techniques and means for their development. Organizations, through changes in structure, culture, competence, and processes, aim at improving their problem solving and conflict resolution and their own clime and efficiency. Far from the old lines of rationalist scientific management, the organizational development, rooted in the action research theory designed by K. Lewin in the 1940s, operates with psychological variables through micro and macro techniques, including program assessment and redesigning of structures; its topics have become central in the research field.
Special cases of organizations are armies, churches, national administrations, and so on. These large social structures generate enough questions to become the particular object of psychological specialties covering them. The use of telematics and new information and communication technologies applied to organizations have also raised new demands on workers’ formation and capacities, an interdisciplinary field that many psychologists are now entering.
Other fields, such as the large one of sport behavior or military psychology, can also be mentioned in this regard. In the former, psychologists have proved to be efficient technicians in dealing with variables that determine high quality sports performances (e.g., achievement motivation, emotional and attention control). The latter includes the study of specific organizations (armies) that were among the first clients of psychology during wartime. In this field, there is clear overlap with similar areas such as engineering psychology and equipment design and ergonomics. In recent times, emphasis has turned to relevant personality dimensions like authoritarianism, leadership, conformity, and prejudice that set the basis for social conflicts. During the so-called Cold War between Western democracies and the Soviet world, some topics also gained relevance, such as the ‘‘war of nerves,’’ national morals, and conflict simulation.
In their approach to such complex problems, some theorists have explored the multiplicity of determinants that influence human action, trying to understand the cues and factors that operate in effective choices and decisions; such insights have enlarged the well-known Lewinian ‘‘action theory,’’ which tries to strengthen theory and practice bonds.
This branch, which is closely related to the clinical field, has rapidly developed since the 1980s. It concentrates on all psychological questions related to health maintenance, illness prevention, and patient– practioner interactions in treating diseases. This specialty deals not only with problems of the individual, but also with others of an organizational nature linked to health care systems and health policy. Prevention, adherence to doctor’s instructions, and people’s healthy life habits are now among the goals of psychologists working in this field.
Connected to this field is contemporary psychogerontology, a specialty that emerged from studies on lifespan developmental psychology and turned into one of the most active areas of research and social priority. In many Western countries, the elderly occupy one of the largest segment of the population, and retirement arrives at an age still able for productive activity. Leisure, social deprivation, loss of power and influence, depressive moods, and psychological losses became relevant targets for psychological intervention.
A special chapter has recently developed and is receiving great attention from society: stress research. Growing evidence shows a causal influence of psychological factors upon the immune system of organisms. Stress research largely deals with the relationship between psychological and organic variables and stressing experiences. The style of coping with negative effects seems not unrelated to serious diseases such as cancer, heart attacks, and AIDS, and with those organic processes connected with the end of such processes. For instance, much literature has been produced on A personality types, considered by some researchers to be risk factors of many serious diseases, mediating some changes in the bodily immune system.
It is also the important and complex role assumed by psychologists working on drug-dependence assistance, one of the most serious problems in contemporary society. Abuse and addiction therapies demand both physical and psychological attention, and patients require social support and advice for changing their attitudes toward dangerous substances and to adhere to treatment.
Finally, the clinical field is also neuropsychology. This is one of the areas that has experienced extraordinary developments in recent times. It is usually described as the study of the brain machinery underlying psychological functions in patients suffering from brain damage, carried out for practical purposes of rehabilitation. Its conceptual roots can be found in the works of Alexander R. Luria (1902–1977) and Donald O. Hebb (1904–1985). Technical advances in brain diagnosis through direct imagery (positronemission tomography and the like) have combined with systematic testing of behavioral effects of damage through batteries such as the Halstead-Reitan Neuropsychological test battery, the Luria/Christensen test battery, and many others. Cognitive and emotional deficits and perturbations, while significant for the clinician, are also relevant for the general theorist, who tries to combine the experimental cognitive approach with new neuropsychological information in order to deepen the knowledge on the mind–brain relationship. This is clearly an interdisciplinary field that needs the joint labor of neurologists, psychologists, and other scientists.
Law (Forensic) Psychology
Since its very beginning, applied psychology has been charged with the task of establishing the degree of credibility of eyewitness testimonies presented in court. Karl Marbe (1869–1953) studied child charges of sexual abuse, and, interested in the topic, wrote a pioneering handbook on forensic psychology. U.S. clinics for offenders’ rehabilitation created by Healey have been mentioned previously. Since then, questions of deception in testimonies, jury selection, legal evidence in court, deterrence from crime, rehabilitation of offenders, and assessment of convict personalities, among others, are under scrutiny and discussion. In the United States, an important court sentence that accepted the psychologist as an expert on mental states of defendants in court strongly promoted the specialty.
Human behavior offers endless dimensions and aspects that may be considered by the psychologist. Apart from those mentioned above, other specialties that are now flourishing in developed countries include community psychology, economic psychology, and political psychology. Psychological care is increasingly a right for people living in developed countries. These provide their citizens with a welfare system that offers security and support when individuals and groups have to cope with stressful events, which frequently include psychological connotations. Problems of family life, such as abuse and neglect of children and women, victimology, and crime and drug prevention, require planning that should include psychological assessment and measures in order to be effective.
Modern societies rely on a large economic system, that through tax policies and contributions supports the major needs of administrative and social services that are in charge of the state. While societies for centuries employed constrictive measures, more attractive ones have been introduced by democratic regimes, which try to persuade people to act lawfully by spontaneous motivation and reflection instead of by compulsion. Individuals who are forced to participate in supporting the state budget, and who are active members of the market system, are basically guided by their interests, beliefs, and fear of penal enforcement. Techniques employed to increase efficiency and motivation in business in the early days of applied psychology by W. D. Scott and other pioneers have recently been transferred and adapted to social policy by governments and social agencies. Economic psychology today covers a wide variety of topics, including behavior in market settings, taxes, investing, risk assumption, bargaining, publicity, and consumer behaviors.
Most psychological professionals work in the field of applied psychology, and the field produces a large portion of the research in psychology. While it is usual to think that it deals with the mere application of some existing principles to certain circumstances, practical intervention frequently gives birth to new concepts and techniques in a continuous interaction among proposed goals, effective applications, and evaluations.
Applied psychology systematically uses evaluation techniques in order to determine the initial problem, to measure the changes produced in it by psychological intervention, and to assess the resulting costs and benefits. According to Gilgen and Gilgen (1987), ‘‘Whatever the country . . . it seems clear that support for academic research psychology is largely dependent on how successful psychologists are at demonstrating their usefulness to society.’’
Modern technological devices (e.g., complex computer- assisted simulation, modeling and data analyses) have been introduced in all social organizations and working groups, and psychologists have assumed the demands created by that technology, and have incorporated them in their own practice. This has resulted in the task of training and recycling specialists as well as a redesign of groups in view of the new goals to be reached.
In every field, interventions have generated the creation of micro-level models that try to fit with concrete data, and whose roots on a general view of mind and behavior are loose and flexible. Assessment runs parallel with intervention, in order to introduce the needed corrections to the planned operation.
Interdisciplinarity has become dominant, and psychologists are approaching the views and methods of those groups with which they have to cooperate. At the present, tremendous development in fields such as genetics, bioengineering, and computer sciences demand further and deeper interaction with psychology, for both theoretical and practical reasons. The new situation demands specialization and competence in many scientific disciplines, but at the same time, all progress will depend upon the ability to connect these new ideas to the questions raised by the understanding of the human mind.
In recent decades, psychologists involved in professional practice clearly outnumber those oriented toward academic research. Their relative weight has turned upside-down the situation that existed in the early days. In addition to the debates on scientific topics, new questions are demanding solutions from professionals: the implementation of adequate training (in concepts and skills) and a qualifications for licensing in different specialties; the adaptation of some minimal technical standards to the peculiarities and idiosyncrasies of the different societies and cultures in which psychology is now applied; communication between academics and the practical world, benefiting from recent findings; the creation of mechanisms for accumulating and disseminating the growing body of knowledge in useful and standardized ways; the updating of ethical codes in view of the multiplicity of communication systems and computational technologies; and the increasing penetration of psychology in different aspects and dimensions of modern life.
Training for a professional career in psychology increasingly requires a specialization in concrete techniques that run the gamut of related topics. In many cases, this is deferred until the postgraduate level.
International cooperation provides additional possibilities for effective work. Associations such as the International Association of Applied Psychology, the European Federation of Professional Psychologists (recently renamed the European Federation of Psychological Associations), and the American Psychological Association are considering the requirements to become a well-trained professional in the various branches of psychology, and the technical and conceptual requirements required by the growing complex interactions between this professional and its clients.
- Adler, N., & Matthews, K. (1994). Health psychology: Why do some people get sick and some stay well? Annual Review of Psychology, 45, 229–259.
- Ardila, R. (1978). La profesion del psicologo. Mexico, Trillas.
- Baker, D. B., & Benjamin, L. T., Jr. (2000). The affirmation of the scientist-practitioner. A look back at Boulder. American Psychologist, 55, 241–246.
- Baltes, P. B., & Baltes, M. M. (1990). Successful aging. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.
- Barker, R. (1968). Ecological psychology. Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press.
- Baumgarten, F. (1957). Examenes de aptitud profesional. Teoria y practica. Barcelona, Labor.
- Birren, J. E., & Schaie, K. W. (Eds.) (1900). Handbook of aging and the individual. Chicago, Chicago Univ. Press.
- Boden, M. (1988). Computer models of mind. New York, Cambridge Univ. Press.
- Brigham, C. (1923). A study of American intelligence. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.
- Brozek, J. (1973). Soviet psychology, In Marx, M. H., & Hillix, W. A. (Eds.), Systems and theories in psychology (2nd ed., pp. 521–548). New York: McGraw-Hill.
- Buckley, K. W. (1989). Mechanical man: John Broadus Watson and the beginnings of behaviorism. New York: Guilford Press.
- Buhler, C., & Allen, M. (1972). Introduction to humanistic psychology. Monterey, CA: Brooks & Cole.
- Carpintero, H. (2001). The psychology of aging in historical perspective, In Leon-Carrion, J., & Giannini, M. (Eds.). Behavioral neurology in the elderly (pp. 3–22). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
- Chanderssais, C. (1961). La psicologia en las fuerzas armadas. Buenos Aires: Kapelusz.
- Cohen, S., & Herbert, T. (1996). Health psychology: Psychological factors and physical disease from the perspective of human psychoneuroimmunology. Annual Review of Psychology, 47, 113–142.
- Compayre, G. (1898). Psicologia teorica y practica aplicada a la educacion. Paris: Lib. V. C. Bouret.
- Dorsch, F. (1963). Geschichte und Probleme der angewandten Psychologie. Bern: Hans Huber.
- Du Bois, P. (1970). A history of psychological testing. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
- Eysenck, H. J. (1971). Race, intelligence and education. London: Temple Smith.
- Fernandez-Ballesteros, R. (1997). Psicologia del envejecimiento: crecimiento y declive. Madrid: Univ. Autonoma de Madrid. Fine, R. (1990). The history of psychoanalysis (2nd ed.). New York: Continuum.
- French, W. L., & Bell, C. H. (1978). Organizational development (2nd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
- Geuter, U. (1992). The professionalization of psychology in Nazi Germany. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.
- Gilgen, A. R. (1982). American psychology since World War II: A profile of the discipline. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
- Gilgen, A. R., & Gilgen, C. K. (1987). International handbook of psychology. New York: Greenwood Press.
- Gould, S. J. (1981). The mismeasure of man. New York: Norton.
- Gundlach, H. (1998). An outline of the history of the IAAP, In Applied Psychology: The First-Thirteenth Congress Proceedings of the International Association of Applied Psychology, Vol. I (pp. 1–24). London: Routledge.
- Hearnshaw, L. (1964). A short history of British psychology. London: Methuen.
- Herrnstein, R., & Murray, C. (1994). The Bell Curve: Intelligence and class structure in American life. New York: The Free Press.
- Holtzman, W. H. (1992). Health psychology, In Rosenzweig, M. (Ed.,) International Psychological Science (pp. 199–226). Washington, DC: APA-IUPsyS.
- IAREP (1997). IAREP XXII International Colloquium of Economic Psychology. Valencia, Promolibro.
- Jaeger, S., & Staeuble, I., (1981). die psychotechnik und ihre gesellschaftlichen entwicklungsbedingungen, in Die Psychologie des 20 (pp. 53–95). Jahrhunderts: Zurich.
- James, W. (1899/1962). Talks to teachers on psychology and to students on some of life’s ideals. New York: Dover.
- Jensen, A. J. (1973). Genetics and education. New York: Harper & Row.
- Johnson-Laird, P. N. (1988). The computer and the mind. An introduction to cognitive science. Glasgow: Collins & Sons.
- la Vaissiere, J. (1915). Psychologie pedagogique. Paris: Beauchesne.
- Leon-Carrion, J. (Ed.) (1997). Neuropsychological rehabilitation: Fundamentals, innovations, and directions. Delray Beach, FL: GR/St. Lucie Press.
- Leonova, A. (1995). Applied psychology in the European North-East: Historical traditions, stages of development and current perspectives. In Jaeger, S., et al. (Eds.), Psychologie Im Sozialkulturellen Wandeln.-Kontinuitaten und Diskontinuitaten (pp. 186–193). Frankfurt: Peter Lang.
- Levy-Leboyer, C. (1980). Psychologie et environnement. Paris: PUF.
- Lewin, K. (1948). Resolving social conflicts. New York: Harper & Row.
- Lopes, L. (1994). Psychology and economics. Annual Review of Psychology, 45, 197–227.
- Lunt, I. (1999). The professionalization of psychology in Europe. European Psychology, 4, 240–247.
- Marbe, K. (1913). Grundzuge der forensischen Psychologie. Munchen: Beck.
- Matarazzo, J. (1980). Behavioral health and behavioral medicine: Frontiers for a new health psychology. American Psychologist, 35, 807–817.
- Monahan, J., & Loftus, E. (1982). The psychology of law. Annual Review of Psychology, 33, 441–475.
- Montoro, L., et al. (1995). Seguridad vial: Del factor humano a las nuevas tecnologias. Madrid: Sintesis.
- Naatanen, R., & Summala, H. (1976). Road-user behavior and traffic accidents. Amsterdam: North Holland.
- Otto, R. K., & Heilbrun, K. (2002). The practice of forensic psychology: A look toward the future in light of the past. American Psychologist, 57, 5–18.
- Peiro, J.M. (1983). Psicologia de la organizacion.Madrid:UNED.
- Perusia, F. (1994). Psicologo: Storia e attualita di una professione scientifica. Torino: Bollati Boringhieri.
- Petrovsky, A. (1990). Psychology in the Soviet Union. Moscow, Progress.
- Raimy, V. C. (Ed.) (1950). Training in clinical psychology. New York: Prentice Hall.
- Reisman, J. M. (1991). A history of clinical psychology (2nd ed.). New York: Hemisphere.
- Rodriguez Marin, J. (1995). Psicologia social de la salud. Madrid: Sintesis.
- Ruegsegger, R. (1986). Die Geschichte der angewandten Psychologie, 1900–1940. Bern: Huber.
- Sexton, V. S., & Hogan, J. D. (1992). International psychology. Views from around the world. Lincoln, NE: Univ. of Nebraska Press.
- Sollier, P., & Drabs, J. (1935). La psychotechnique. Bruxelles: Comite Central Industriel de Belgique.
- Sprung, L., & Schonpflug, W. (Eds.). (2003). Zur Geschichte der Psychologie in Berlin (2nd ed.). Frankfurt: Peter Lang.
- Stokols, D. (1978). Environmental psychology. Annual Review of Psychology, 29, 253–295.
- Sully, J. (1900). Psicologia pedagogica. New York: Appleton (originally The teacher’s handbook of psychology. London: Longmans Green, 1886).
- Sundstrom, E., et al. (1996). Environmental psychology, 1989–1994. Annual Review of Psychology, 47, 485–512.
- Thorndike, E. L. (1910). Educational psychology (2nd ed.). New York: Columbia Univ.
- Thorndike, E. L., & Woodworth, R. S. (1901). The influence of improvement in one mental function upon efficiency of other functions. Psychology Review, 8, 247–261, 384–395, 553–564.
- Wilpert, B. (1995). Organizational behavior. Annual Review of Psychology, 46, 59–90.
- Wilpert, B., & Lunt, I. (1998). World study of applied psychology. Unpublished report to IAAP.
- Wrightsman, L. (2001). Forensic psychology. Belmont, WA: Wadsworth.
- Zilboorg, G., & Henry, GW., (1941). A history of medical psychology. New York: Norton.