Chapter 1

The International Union of Psychological Science today

The International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS) is the main international body of psychology. As indicated in Figure 1.1 , it groups together organizations that represent psychology in 66 countries (as of early 2000), and the memberships in these national organizations total more than 500,000 psychologists. The IUPsyS represents psychology in such organizations as the International Social Science Council (ISSC) and the International Council for Science (ICSU); it also has consultative relations with the Economic and Social Council and the Department of Public Information of the United Nations and with the World Health Organization (WHO). The IUPsyS aims to represent psychology in all the countries in which it is developed and to foster the development of psychology as a science and a profession around the world.

Relations of the International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS) with other organizations

The Assembly of IUPsyS is its legislative body and final authority. The Assembly consists of the members of the Executive Committee and one or two delegates per national member. It meets every 2 years, at the site of an international congress of the IUPsyS or at the site of an international congress of the International Association for Applied Psychology (IAAP). As is the rule for most international scientific unions, the IUPsyS is composed of national member organizations, not more than one national member per country. Since 1951, IUPsyS has grown steadily to a membership of 66 national members (as of May 2000). A detailed history of the IUPsyS and of the international congresses of psychology is given in later chapters of this book.

Changes in name and acronym of the IUPsyS

Over its history, the Union has changed its name and its acronym. The original name, from 1951 to 1965, was the International Union of Scientific Psychology (IUSP). The name was changed to the International Union of Psychological Science (IUPS) in 1965. Most members of the Executive Committee preferred the change because they wanted to avoid the implication that some psychology is not scientific. French-speaking members, however, preferred to retain the original name, so the French name remained unchanged (Union Internationale de Psychologie Scientifique). The change of acronym to IUPsyS occurred in 1982, when IUPsyS assumed membership in the International Council for Science (ICSU). The International Union of Physiological Sciences, founded in 1952, had been a member of ICSU since 1955 and also used the acronym IUPS. When psychology posed its candidacy for full membership in ICSU, a condition required for the election was that the psychological union choose a different acronym from that already used in ICSU by the physiological union. Various alternatives were considered, including changing the name back to the International Union of Scientific Psychology. Finally it was agreed to use IUPsyS, and that acronym has now become familiar.

Participation of the IUPsyS in major international organizations

An important function of IUPsyS for the promotion and application of psychological science is participation in major international scientific organizations, especially the International Council for Science (ICSU), which is the major international scientific organization, and the International Social Science Council (ISSC), of which IUPsyS is a founding member. As a member of ICSU, IUPsyS receives grants for some research projects, and it collaborates with the ICSU Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA). IUPsyS is also developing cooperative relations with other scientific unions in ICSU, such as the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO) and the International Geographical Union (IGU). IUPsyS and IBRO recently received a major grant from ICSU to organize a Brain Imaging Workshop in conjunction with the International Congress of Psychology in 2000 in Stockholm, and it will hold a joint symposium with IGU at the Stockholm Congress.

IUPsyS cooperates with ISSC and its member organizations in several research programs and International Issue Groups, in the program on Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, in Working Groups, and in a number of UNESCO-sponsored projects, particularly those involving developing countries. ISSC provides IUPsyS grants for certain projects. IUPsyS has also cooperated with UNESCO on several projects of mutual interest.

Organizations affiliated with the IUPsyS

The IUPsyS maintains relations with several other international or regional psychological organizations. Its affiliates include the following organizations: the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP), the Interamerican Society of Psychology/Sociedad Interamericana de Psicologia (SIP), Association de Psychologie Scientifique de Langue Française (APSLF), International Council of Psychologists (ICP), International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology (IACCP), European Association of Experimental Social Psychology (EAESP), International Society of Comparative Psychology (ISCP), International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development (ISSBD), European Association of Personality Psychology (EAPA), European Association of Psychological Assessment (EAPP), and the International Neurological Society (INS). In addition to these affiliates, the IUPsyS maintains special liaison exchanges with the European Association of Professional Psychologists’ Associations (EFPPA) and the International Test Commission (ITC).

Current activities of the IUPsyS

As well as assuring the regular succession of international congresses of psychology, representing psychology in international organizations, maintaining relations with other international or regional psychological organizations, publishing the International Journal of Psychology and sponsoring other publications, the IUPsyS engages in several other important current activities, some of which the following paragraphs will describe.

Regional conferences and congresses

The IUPsyS sponsors regional international congresses designed to assist and promote psychology within low-income countries (developing countries and countries in transition). This program addresses the problem that few psychologists from developing countries participate in the major international congresses. Even though the range of countries represented among registrants has increased with each international congress, the difficulties and costs of travel, accommodation, and congress registration fees pose significant obstacles to the attendance of psychologists from developing countries. To address these problems, the IUPsyS in 1995 creatively began the practice of sponsoring international regional congresses within developing countries. This IUPsyS initiative has become a joint venture with the IAAP. Both associations contribute to the support of each regional congress with the primary sponsorship alternating in successive odd-numbered years. IUPsyS sponsored the first regional congress in Guangzhou, China (1995) and the African regional congress held in Durban, South Africa (1999). The IAAP was the primary sponsor for the Latin American regional congress in Mexico City (1997).

Codes of ethics

Although the IUPsyS had long encouraged its national members to adopt codes of ethics, a survey by the Secretary-General in the 1970s revealed that only a small number of national members had actually adopted codes and were enforcing them. A special symposium on ethics at the 1976 International Congress in Paris gave further impetus to this effort. (For more on this, see Chapter 11 .)

In 1993 the Union Executive Committee instructed the then Deputy Secretary-General, Bruce Overmier, to survey the membership once again, to see whether or not each country had adopted a set of ethical guidelines or code to govern activities by psychologists. The president or executive officer of each national member was contacted to determine whether or not a formal “ethics code” had been officially adopted in their country, and, if so, was asked to provide a copy to the Union. Twenty-four countries reported having such a code and submitted copies. Four Scandinavian countries shared a single code, yielding 20 different codes. Interestingly, many of the codes were submitted in English; those that were not were translated into English to allow comparisons among the codes. (It was recognized that such English translations performed without a back-translation check may not be fully accurate representations of the original code.) Mark M. Leach and Judd J. Harbin of the University of Mississippi undertook a systematic comparison of these 20 codes for the Union. The result was published in the International Journal of Psychology (Leach & Harbin, 1997 ), highlighting similarities and differences. This paper also put their review into a context of prior smaller surveys of national codes of ethics for psychologists.

Advanced Research Training Seminars (ARTS)

Going back to the 1988 International Congress of Psychology in Australia, where the participation of psychologists from low-income countries was very poor, the idea emerged among some psychologists of the need for sponsored research/training seminars for psychologists from low-income countries that would also enable their participation in international congresses. This idea materialized in 1992 under the auspices of IUPsyS when the first Advanced Research Training Seminars (ARTS) were held in conjunction with the 25th International Congress of Psychology in Brussels. The coordinator was Ype Poortinga, and the two ARTS were organized in Tilburg and Berlin by Fons v.d.Vijver and Ute Schönpflug, respectively. The International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology (IACCP) also collaborated in sponsoring ARTS.

Since then ARTS have been organized every 2 years in conjunction with the international congresses of psychology and of applied psychology under the auspices of IUPsyS, in collaboration with IAAP and IACCP. For two terms, in 1994 and 1996, Cigdem Kagitcibasi was the ARTS coordinator. In 1994 two ARTS were organized in conjunction with the Madrid IAAP Congress, one in Saarbrucken by Lutz Eckensberger on “Eco-Ethical Thinking from a Cross-Cultural Perspective” and the other in Istanbul by Sevda Bekman, Banu Oney and Cigdem Kagitcibasi on “Human Development and Assessment.” In 1996 two more ARTS were organized in Canada, in conjunction with the 26th International Congress of Psychology, one in Ottawa by Alastair Ager, assisted by Martha Young, on “Qualitative Research Methods” and the other in Sherbrooke by Pnina Klein and Michael Boivin on “Early Intervention in Families and Other Settings for Infants and Young Children.” In 1998 John Adair served as the ARTS coordinator. In conjunction with the San Francisco IAAP Congress three ARTS were organized, by Robert Serpell and Abdeljalil Akkari in Baltimore on “Qualitative Approaches in Cultural Psychology,” by Martin Fishbein in Bellingham on “Developing Effective Health Behavior Interventions,” and by Peter Graf in San Francisco on “Advances in Cognitive Psychology.”

John Adair continues as the ARTS Coordinator for 2000. In conjunction with the 27th International Congress of Psychology in Stockholm, three ARTS are being planned by Jarl Risberg in Lund on “Imaging the Structure and Function of the Brain,” by Thomas Oakland and Walter Lonner in Stockholm on “Psychological Test Adaptations to Diverse Cultures and Measuring Personality Cross-Culturally,” and by Heidi Keller in Stockholm on “Pathways across Development: Cross-Cultural Perspectives.”

ARTS have been very successful in fulfilling their mission, that is, providing research/training to psychologists from developing countries and from Eastern Europe, as well as supporting their participation in international congresses. Greater participation of psychologists from low-income countries in international congresses is crucial for increased internationalization of psychology. ARTS is serving this worthwhile purpose.


The IUPsyS has developed an extensive program of publications to foster communication with and among psychologists around the world. Starting with the first International Congress of Psychology in 1889, the practice arose of publishing the proceedings of each congress, often including texts of some of the main papers and abstracts of the others. When the International Union was formally organized in 1951, its statutes included the provision that proceedings of the congresses be published in a uniform manner, and the practice has been maintained to a large extent. The proceedings of the 26th International Congress of Psychology, Montréal, 1996, and of the 25th Congress, Brussels, 1992, are available from Psychology Press, UK.

In 1966 the Union founded its journal, the International Journal of Psychology. The Journal publishes scientific and theoretical papers in all fields of psychological research. Most issues of the Journal include a second part, the International Platform, which gives news of the Union and its national members, provides an opportunity to exchange views and opinions of psychological topics, and lists the International Meeting Calendar. The Journal is widely distributed to the national member organizations, to libraries, and to individual subscribers throughout the world.

To aid in contacting psychologists around the world, many in countries that do not publish directories of psychologists, the Union has published a series of volumes entitled International Directory of Psychologists. They appeared in 1958, 1966, 1980, and 1985. The most recent of these volumes (Pawlik, 1985 ) presented information on more than 32,000 psychologists from 43 countries. The international directories did not include psychologists from the USA because the American Psychological Association regularly publishes directories of its members.

The increasing number of psychologists around the world made it impractical to continue publishing directories of individual psychologists beyond 1985. The Union then tried a new form of publication, the IUPsyS Directory of Major Research Institutes and Departments of Psychology (d’Ydewalle, 1993 ). This volume listed contact information for psychological organizations in 171 countries.

A new “publication” initiative of the Union is the CD-ROM global resource file, Psychology: IUPsyS Global Resource, to appear in 2000. This electronically based publication is described in the Global resource file section, following.

Subscriptions to the International Journal of Psychology, the IUPsyS Directory of Major Research Institutes and Departments of Psychology, and to the proceedings of the 25th and 26th International Congresses of Psychology are available from

Psychology Press
27 Church Road
Hove, East Sussex
(Fax: 44 1273 205612; Tel: 44 1273 207411)

The Union has sponsored or given its auspices to a number of books intended to increase information about psychology and/or to promote communication among psychologists around the world. A complete listing will appear in the CD-ROM global resource file, Psychology: IUPsyS Global Resource. Some recent publications are: Jing (1991) , Chinese Concise Encyclopaedia of Psychology; Rosenzweig (1992, 1994) , International Psychological Science: Progress, Problems and Prospects; and Pawlik and Rosenzweig (2000) , International Handbook of Psychology.

Global resource file

As the Union moves into the new millennium, it is launching a new “publication,” Psychology: IUPsyS Global Resource, which is congruent with the electronic computer capabilities coming on line throughout the world. This new product is a “resource guide” in CD-ROM format. This publication product follows the tradition of—yet extends in scope and media—the Union’s previous publication of the International Directory of Psychologists (editions published in 1958, 1966, 1980, 1985) and the IUPsyS Directory (published in 1993). The first issue of the CD-ROM, which will be published in 2000, will be distributed to all subscribers to the International Journal of Psychology and also marketed by Psychology Press as a free-standing reference tool. The Psychology: IUPsyS Global Resource CD-ROM will include several resource tools as separate searchable files using proprietary integrated software. These resource tools will be diverse. Among them will be brief descriptions and histories of the state of psychology in 84 countries, contact information for national psychological societies, a directory of international psychological societies, an international directory with postal and electronic addresses for scholarly institutions in 147 countries, a coded bibliography of published papers about psychology in each country, materials related to the structure, function, and members of the Union itself, and, importantly, the abstracts of all papers presented at the quadrennial International Congresses of Psychology—beginning with 1996 and continuing into the future. Links will allow the user to search from country in one resource file to research institute in a second file to a congress author from that institution in a third. The Union’s new electronic resource guide will make information about psychological science and its worldwide context more readily available and will be especially helpful to those seeking international collaborations or wishing to trace the development of psychology in a country or region.

Sources of current information about the IUPsyS

For current information about the IUPsyS, see its website ( ) and its journal, the International Journal of Psychology. The International Journal of Psychology publishes not only research reports but also news about IUPsyS and its national members and affiliates and lists forthcoming meetings in all fields of scientific and professional psychology.


d’Ydewalle, G. (1993). IUPsyS directory of major research institutes and departments of psychology. Hove, UK: Psychology Press.

Jing, Q.C. (Ed.)(1991). Chinese concise encyclopedia of psychology. [In Chinese.] Changsha, China: Hunan Educational Publishers.

Leach, M.M., & Harbin, J.J. (1997). Psychological ethics codes: A comparison of 24 countries. International Journal of Psychology, 32(3), 181–192.

Pawlik, K. (Ed.)(1985). International directory of psychologists (4th ed.). Amsterdam: North-Holland.

Pawlik, K., & Rosenzweig, M.R. (Eds.)(2000). International handbook of psychology. London: Sage.

Rosenzweig, M.R. (1992). International psychological science: Progress, problems, and prospects. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Rosenzweig, M.R. (1994). International psychological science: Progress, problems, and prospects. [Chinese translation.] Beijing: China Science and Technology Publishers.