Chapter 4

The International Congresses of Psychology become regularized, 1892–1909

After the success of the 1st International Congress of Psychology in Paris, 1889, five other congresses followed at intervals of 3 to 5 years, through the 6th congress at Geneva in 1909. This chapter carries the story of the international congresses of psychology and the International Congress Committee up to the eve of World War I. Several themes emerge from examination of this period. The congresses became a regular means of communication among psychologists and with members of neighboring disciplines. The growth in attendance at the successive congresses showed their popularity and effectiveness. The International Congress Committee grew in size and in number of countries represented. Although the congresses were international, a large proportion of the attendees of each congress were from the host country. This is understandable because travel was difficult and time-consuming a century ago. The definition of psychology was disputed at the early congresses, with psychical research strongly represented, but contested by experimental psychologists. After the controversy over psychical research at the 4th congress in Paris, 1900, its proponents sought other outlets than the congresses of psychology. The chapter ends with a brief account of “The American congress that wasn’t” (Evans & Down Scott, 1978 )—the failure of American psychologists to organize an international congress in the United States for 1913.

The 2nd International Congress of Psychology, London 1892 (International Congress of Experimental Psychology)

The International Congress of Experimental Psychology took place at University College, London, August 1–4, 1892. The president was Henry Sidgwick, professor of utilitarian philosophy at the University of Cambridge and president of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) of London. Sidgwick was the initial president of the SPR (1882–85) and served a second term as president in 1888–93. The Honorary Secretary of the congress was Mr Frederick W.H. Myers, also a member of the SPR. Professor James Sully shared the work of Secretary and was influential in organizing the experimental aspects of the program. The proceedings did not include a list of registrants but noted that over 300 persons attended, “including nearly a hundred foreign visitors, from all parts of Europe and from America and Australia” (International Congress of Experimental Psychology, 1892a , p. iv).

Because the number of papers presented—42—seemed large to the organizers, they were divided into two concurrent sections: (a) “papers dealing with Neurology and Psycho-physics,” and (b) “papers dealing with Hypnotism and phenomena akin to those of Hypnotism.” The latter heading included psychic phenomena.

The inclusion of psychic or metapsychological papers was a controversial subject. The leading German psychologist Wilhelm Wundt, who had attended the 1st congress, protested against this subject by refusing to attend the 2nd congress. Professor Sidgwick regretted this in his presidential address (Sidgwick, 1892 ). He expressed the hope that the narrowness of his own interests:

had no tendency to narrow the conception that I have
formed of the proper work of the Congress. I observe that
Professor Wundt, in a recent number of his Philosophische
Studien, suggests the probability that under my influence
“clairvoyance, under the innocent mask of a statistic of
hallucinations”, will be the chief topic at our present meeting;
but this only shows that the most accomplished psychologist
is liable to go rather wide of the mark, if he is determined to
express his opinions on matters on which he is determined to
seek no information. It has, on the contrary, been my aim—
as I hope our programme shows—to avoid giving an undue
place to the enquiries in which I am especially interested; to
make our list of papers as adequately representative as
possible of the various lines of enquiry, pursued by very
diverse methods, which are included within the range of our
subject (H. Sidgwick, 1892 , p. 2).

In fact, Sidgwick was scrupulous in avoiding giving a major place in the congress to psychical research. He wrote in his memoirs that he had attended the Paris congress purely out of friendship for Richet and was surprised there to be elected President of the 2nd congress:

Behold me, then, President-elect of a Congress of
experimental Psychologists—most of them stubborn
materialists, interested solely in psychophysical experiments
on the senses; whereas I have never experimented except in
telepathy. Water and fire, oil and vinegar, are too feeble to
express our antagonism! What was to be done? I sought out
James Sully—probably the one Englishman known to
German Professors as a writer on physiological Psychology—
and said to him, “… be secretary: write to leading Germans:
and, in short, get up the Congress so far as ordinary
experimental Psychology goes; Myers and I will provide the
extraordinary element; and we will trust in Providence to
make the explosion when the two elements meet endurable”
(A. Sidgwick & Sidgwick, 1906 , pp. 515–516).

Sidgwick took further steps to try to get German experimental psychologists and physiologists to take part in the 2nd congress. Because he had not used German in many years, he spent his Easter vacation of 1892 in Germany to revive his fluency, and he visited several German professors and encouraged them to participate in the congress.

Finally, only a few reports at the congress were on psychical research. One was an international survey of cases of hallucinations, including cases of telepathy, among the sane. This survey, planned at the 1st congress, was co-authored by Henry Sidgwick in England, William James in the United States, and Léon Marillier in France. Other reports at the congress covered a wide range of topics, including mechanisms of color vision, intersensory associations, functional attributes of regions of the cerebral cortex, development of arithmetic concepts in children, sex differences in sensory sensitivity, and relations between respiration and fluctuations of attention. Conway Lloyd Morgan discussed “The limits of animal intelligence” and made an early presentation of what later became known as Lloyd Morgan’s canon: “In no case is an animal activity to be interpreted as the outcome of the exercise of a higher psychical faculty, if it can be fairly interpreted as the outcome of the exercise of one which stands lower in the psychological scale.” Hypnosis was discussed extensively, as at the 1st congress. Some speakers stressed its therapeutic value. The downfall of the Salpêtrière concept of hypnosis as an abnormal phenomenon was now considered complete.

In commenting on the development of psychology in England, Professor Sidgwick confessed that England had fallen behind in converting psychology to an exact science by making precise determinations and measurements. He noted that England did not yet have a properly equipped psychological laboratory. He hoped that one of the benefits of holding the congress in England would be to stimulate development by comparing the position of England “not only with that of Germany, which originated and still leads in this movement, but also with that of our American cousins—who, with characteristic energy, have developed eight or nine psychological laboratories in the last few years ...” (H. Sidgwick, 1892 , p. 3).

Professor Charles Richet, one of the Vice-Presidents of the congress, gave an address on the future of psychology. He held that a major field of psychology is “transcendental psychology,” that is, the study of extraordinary powers of human intelligence which may hold the keys to clairvoyance, transmission of thought, and prevision. Richet declared that determining whether or not such powers exist would be a major accomplishment and would require great perseverance.

Decisions of the permanent International Committee

At the conclusion of the congress, the International Congress Committee accepted an invitation of German psychologists to hold the 3rd congress in Munich in the summer of 1896, with Professor Carl Stumpf as President and Baron Albert von Schrenck-Notzing as Secretary. This was to be called simply the 3rd International Congress of Psychology, without any qualification such as “physiological” or “experimental.”

The permanent International Committee was given a formal name, the Permanent Committee of Organization. It was reconstituted with Professor Carl Stumpf as President and Baron Albert von Schrenck-Notzing as Secretary. Twenty-one additional members were named (International Congress of Experimental Psychology, 1892a , p. 178), and three others were named before the 3rd congress, keeping the total membership of the International Committee at 27 (Dritter Internationaler Congress für Psychologie, 1897 , pp. xxi-xxii). Nine different countries were represented in the committee. Seven members of the first International Committee continued on the second: Bernheim, Hitzig, James, Richet, von Schrenck-Notzing, and Sidgwick; Delboeuf was also reappointed, but he died shortly after the congress. See Appendix A.2 for the complete list of members of the International Committee chosen at the 2nd congress.

An international congress in America?

It was also resolved to invite American psychologists to organize an extraordinary session of the congress in America in 1893. A committee of American psychologists was appointed to explore this idea: Professor James M. Baldwin, Dr Henry H. Donaldson, Professor George S. Fullerton, Professor G. Stanley Hall, Professor William James, Dr Lightner Witmer, and Dr William Romaine Newbold (International Congress of Experimental Psychology, 1892a , p. 178). A footnote to the page stated “that this Committee have decided not to hold an extraordinary session of the Congress in America,” so their decision was reached promptly. It is possible that this decision was related to the discussion in December 1892 at the meeting of the American Psychological Association about organizing a psychological congress at the World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago 1893, but the APA decided not to do so. Nuttin (1992 , p. 65) speculated that the decision of the Americans not to organize an extraordinary session of the international congresses may have reflected a desire to distance American psychology from metapsychology after the London congress.

An evaluation of the 2nd International Congress

The 2nd congress lacked the pathbreaking nature of the 1st congress. Neither did it provide the boost for development of British psychology that the 1st congress gave to French psychology. It did further the process of disengagement of psychology from metapsychology, which had begun in the 1st congress. Professor Stumpf, in his presidential address at the 3rd congress, noted that the 2nd congress took up an ensemble of themes notably broader than that of the 1st congress. The decision to hold the 3rd congress in Germany, the original and principal home of experimental psychology, was a further step in asserting the primary role of experimental psychology.

The 3rd International Congress of Psychology, Munich 1896

The 3rd International Congress of Psychology took place at the Royal University of Munich, August 4–7, 1896. The President was Professor Carl Stumpf of the University of Berlin; President II (Vice-President) was Professor Theodor Lipps of the University of Munich, and Secretary-General was Dr Albert von Schrenck-Notzing. The list of registered members showed a total of 455 (Dritter Internationaler Congress für Psychologie, 1897 , pp. xxiii-xli), considerably larger than at the London congress. Of these, 268 (59%) were German, 30 (6%) Austrian, 27 (6%) from the USA, 24 (5%) French, and 19 (4%) Italian (Montoro González, 1982 , p. 659). In part, the relatively large attendance was due to extensive correspondence undertaken by the German organizers; in part it was in response to announcements placed in journals. Thus, an announcement in Mind (1896 , p. 143) stated that “All educated persons who desire to further the progress of Psychology and to foster personal relations among the students of Psychology in different nations are invited to take part in the meetings of the Congress.” The announcement in the Psychological Review (1896, p. 240) added, “Women will have the same rights as men.”

Carl Stumpf (1848–1936): President of the 3rd International Congress of Psychology, Munich, 1896.

Many more papers were presented than in London—116—so 29 sessions were scheduled. Most of the time, there were five concurrent sessions. Section I was devoted to brain anatomy and physiology; section II, to the psychology of the normal individual; section III, to psychopathology and criminal psychology; section IV, to the psychology of sleep, dreaming, hypnosis, and allied phenomena, including telepathy; and section V, to developmental and pedagogical psychology.

For the first time at an international congress of psychology, commercial firms displayed laboratory instruments and publishers displayed recent books. Such displays became a feature of subsequent congresses.

Also for the first time, a congress newspaper (Tageblatt) was distributed during the 4 days of meetings. It informed members about activities, changes in the program, registration of members, information about Munich, and so forth.

Four languages were used in congress presentations, discussions, and the publication of the proceedings: German, English, French, and Italian. Papers or abstracts had to be submitted in advance so they could be distributed to the members to permit better understanding of the different languages.

On the morning of the last day, the permanent International Committee met and decided to hold the 4th congress in Paris in 1900 with Professors Ribot and Richet as Presidents, and Pierre Janet as Secretary. As for the 1st congress in 1889, the 4th congress was planned to occur during an international exposition in Paris. The International Committee was reorganized and its membership enlarged to 38, including representatives from 12 countries (Dritter Internationaler Congress für Psychologie, 1897 , pp. 164–165). (See Appendix A.3 for the membership of the International Committee.)

Ebbinghaus proposed that the International Committee request that the Royal Society of London include psychological publications in its catalog of scientific publications, and a committee was appointed for this purpose. Nuttin (1992 , p. 65) speculated that this initiative may have led to the decision of the International Bibliographic Conference of London in 1896 to include experimental psychology among the 15 “leading sciences” to be catalogued.

Edward B. Titchener (E.B.T., 1896–97 ) reported that the many social occasions at the 3rd congress stimulated valuable personal exchanges among the participants. He also noted that excursions planned for the participants had to be cancelled because it rained throughout the congress.

Impacts of the 3rd International Congress

The 3rd International Congress had several favorable influences on the development of psychological science. As Nuttin noted (1992 , pp. 63–65), although the congress was open to many aspects of psychology and of neighboring disciplines, it was psychological science as it existed at the end of the 19th century that was fully represented at the congress. There were still some conflicts with metapsychology, but these were muted, only to have a final outburst at the Paris congress in 1900. After that, there were to be only some rearguard skirmishes at the congresses of Rome in 1905 and Geneva in 1909. Nuttin (1992 , pp. 64–65) speculated that if this change of emphasis had not occurred at Munich, German and American psychologists would have progressively abandoned the international congresses.

The congress was greeted with acclaim and hospitality by the City and University of Munich and the Kingdom of Bavaria, and a small number of members were invited to dine with the Prince-Regent. This was the first time such recognition was given to a congress of psychology.

For the first time, the permanent International Committee was named in the proceedings of the congress as the organizing committee for the congress. It was also the permanent International Committee that proposed that the next congress be held in Paris in 1900 and proposed the names of its main officers. Thus, the International Committee played a larger role in this congress than in the previous one.

The 4th International Congress of Psychology, Paris 1900

The 4th International Congress of Psychology took place in the Palais des Congrès at the Paris Exposition Universelle, August 20–25, 1900. Théodule A. Ribot was President, Charles Richet was second President, and Pierre Janet was secretary. The list of registered members showed 430 (IVE Congrès International de Psychologie, 1901 , pp. 11–34); this was 25 fewer registrants than at the 3rd congress. Fifty-five per cent came from outside France; this was the first time that the majority of attendees came from outside the host country. Of these, 38 (9%) came from the USA, 35 (8%) from Germany, 32 (7%) from Great Britain, 26 (6%) from Russia, and 22 (5%) from Italy (Montoro González, 1982 , p. 660).

In his presidential address, Ribot noted the impressive increase in numbers of psychological publications. The items reported in the Psychological Index increased from 2234 for 1896 to 2746 for 1899. Ribot foresaw the time when a single psychologist would no longer be able to review all the publications because, no sooner had he finished with those for one year, he would have to start again for the next.

Hermann Ebbinghaus reviewed the psychology of the 19th century. He stressed the differences of philosophical psychology among France, Germany, and England, whereas it seemed to him that scientific psychology was becoming a common international field, inspired by the unity of approach that characterizes science.

It seemed to some that “a large number of spiritualists, theosophists, occultists, and people interested in psychic research tried to dominate the scene” at the 4th congress (Montoro, Tortosa, Carpintero, & Peiro, 1984 , p. 246). The German neurologist Oskar Vogt delivered a paper, “Contre le spiritisme,” in which he strongly criticized the “spiritists” (spiritualists) as being “anti-scientifique” (Vogt, 1901 ). In the lively discussion that followed this paper, Ebbinghaus deplored the fact that scholars came from great distances to a congress of scientific psychology and had to hear such fanciful papers on spiritualism.

In the face of such opposition, there was a sharp decline in reports by proponents of psychical research at the international congresses of psychology after the 4th congress. An International Psychological Institute was established in 1900 for the scientific study of psychical phenomena. Piéron (1954 , p. 401) reported that it was so effective in disproving claims of occult phenomena that supporters of psychical research withdrew their financial support and founded a Metapsychical Institute in Paris.

The program of the 4th congress was divided into symposia and general sessions. The six symposia were these: (1) Relations between psychology and anatomy and physiology. (2) Introspective psychology and its relations with philosophy. (3) Experimental and physiological psychology. (4) Psychopathology and psychiatry. (5) Psychology of hypnotism, suggestion, and related subjects. (6) Social and criminal psychology; this symposium also included reports on animal and comparative psychology, anthropology, and ethnography. The six general sessions were on these subjects: (1) Studies of the history of psychology. (2) Cerebral physiology. (3) Somnambulism. (4) Physiological psychology. (5) Experimental psychology. (6) Social and abnormal psychology. Of the 139 presentations at the congress, the most frequent subject was general psychology, with 21% of the total, followed by psychometrics (14%) and clinical psychology (13%) (Montoro González, 1982 , p. 120).

The International Committee (called in French the Comité International de Propagande) increased its membership to 55, representing 14 countries (IVE Congrès International de Psychologie, 1901 , pp. 221–225). (See Appendix A.4 .) The countries with the largest representations in the International Committee were Italy and Germany with eight each, Great Britain with seven, and France, Russia, and the USA with six each. The committee decided to hold the 5th congress in Rome in 1904, with Professor Luigi Luciani, a physiologist and rector of the university of Rome, as President, and Giuseppi Sergi, professor of anthropology and psychology, as Vice-President; Sergi had founded the first laboratory of psychology in Italy in 1877. Professor Augusto Tamburini, psychiatrist and neurologist, was to be Secretary-General (IVE Congrès International de Psychologie, 1901 , p. 221). The 4th congress closed, as had the first, with a banquet in a restaurant on the first platform of the Eiffel Tower.

The 5th International Congress of Psychology, Rome 1905

The 5th International Congress of Psychology took place in Rome, April 26–30, 1905. The national Organizing Committee changed the date from 1904 to 1905 to avoid a conflict in dates with the International Congress of Physiology meeting in Brussels in 1904. By the time of the congress, the Italian Organizing Committee had changed the composition of officers of the congress: Luigi Luciani, because of his many other responsibilities, gave up the presidency and became Honorary President; Giuseppi Sergi became President; Augusto Tamburini, professor of psychiatry, remained Secretary-General, and psychiatrist Sante de Sanctis was Vice Secretary-General. Thus, although the psychologist Sergi was President, two of the four principal officers were psychiatrists, and one was a physiologist. It was de Sanctis who prepared the extensive 798-page volume of proceedings for publication (Atti del V. Congresso Internazionale di Psicologia, 1906). The attendance at the 5th congress was 440, and 53% of the registrants were Italian. Of the rest, 60 (14%) were French, 32 (7%) German, 20 (5%) Austrian, 12 (3%) British, and 11 each came from Hungary and Russia; the United States, which had major representations at the 3rd and 4th congresses, had only 5 members at the 5th conference (Montoro González, 1982 , p. 661).

As well as 12 addresses by major psychologists, there were 190 papers divided into 4 sessions: (I) Experimental psychology, including relations to anatomy and physiology, psychophysics, and comparative psychology. In connection with this session, there was a display of scientific instruments and of books. (II) Introspective psychology, psychology in relation to philosophy. (III) Pathological psychology, psychology in relation to hypnotism, suggestion, and related phenomena (including clairvoyance); psychotherapy. (IV) Criminal, pedagogical, and social psychology.

Of the 202 presentations, the most frequent subject was clinical psychology with 21% of the total; general psychology was second, with 14%, and physiological psychology third with 11% (Montoro González, 1982 , p. 129).

At the start of the second general session, the chair gave the floor to Dr Felix Krueger, who was later to succeed Professor Wilhelm Wundt at Leipzig. Krueger greeted the congress in the name of Wundt (Krueger, 1906 , pp. 72–73). After extolling the contributions of Wundt to psychology, Krueger stated that Wundt was concerned with current tendencies to apply psychological findings to practical fields such as education, jurisprudence, and social psychology, as reflected in the program of this congress. While acknowledging the extensive research that underlay these currents, Wundt was concerned about the dangers for psychology that these practical tendencies might cause, especially if they led to neglect of the theory and research that must be the basis of psychology.

An important benefit of the 5th congress for Italian psychology was that it led Leonardo Bianchi, Minister of Public Instruction and named honorary president of the congress, to create the first three professorships of experimental psychology in Italy.

At the meeting of the Comitato Internazionale di Propaganda (as the International Congress Committee was called in the proceedings of the 6th congress), invitations to host the 6th congress were presented from Boston, Geneva, Graz, and Stockholm. When William James, who had presented the proposal for Boston, found that his friend Théodore Flournoy was inviting the congress to Geneva, he withdrew his proposal, and the Congress Committee decided to hold the 6th congress in Geneva in August 1909.

The committee debated whether to increase its membership. William James held that if the membership was to be increased, an attempt be made to equalize the representation of different countries. It was decided to increase the membership to 76, and 18 different countries were represented. With the congress taking place in Italy, it is not surprising that Italy had the greatest number of committee members, 11; Germany had 10, France and the USAhad 8 each, Russia had 7, and Great Britain had 6. For the first time, some members were chosen from outside Europe and North America; these were two Japanese, Yujiro Motora, professor of psychology at the Imperial University of Tokyo, and Yasusaburo Sakaki, professor of psychiatry at the University of Fukuoka (V. Congresso Internazionale di Psicologia, 1906 , pp. 783–784). (For the list of members appointed or reappointed to the International Committee in 1905, see Appendix A.5 .)

The 6th International Congress of Psychology, Geneva 1909

The 6th International Congress of Psychology took place in Geneva, August 2–7, 1909. Professor Théodore Flournoy of the University of Geneva was President, and Dr Edouard Claparède, director of the psychological laboratory at the University of Geneva, was Secretary-General. Both Flournoy and Claparède had doctorates in medicine, and both were members of the International Congress Committee. Flournoy had studied with Wundt and introduced experimental psychology to Switzerland.

The 6th congress attracted 582 members coming from 28 countries, a larger attendance than at any previous congress. Switzerland accounted for 42% of the members; France, 17%; Italy, 9%, Germany, 6 %, and the USA, 5% (Montoro González, 1982 , p. 662).

At the opening social meeting on the evening of August 2, Professor Flournoy greeted the participants and urged them to get to know each other and to form cordial personal relations, which he said was the main purpose for international congresses. To aid in forming acquaintances, the host committee had assigned a number to each participant and placed these numbers in the congress program and on the participant’s badge (Flournoy, 1910a , p. 824).

The program of the congress included 10 main themes, each with 1 or more presenters, and individual papers. In addition, there were seven sessions on unification of psychological terminology and symbols, color standards, mathematical methods, and so forth. There was also a display of books and of scientific instruments. The main themes were the following: (1) The sentiments. (2) The subconscious. (3) Measurement of attention. (4) Psychology of religious phenomena. (5) Classification of the educationally retarded. (6) Methodology of pedagogical psychology. (7) Perception of positions and movements of the body and limbs. (8) Tropisms. (9) Navigation by pigeons. (On August 6, pigeons from Versailles and two other cities in France were released in Geneva, and their success in reaching their home cities was reported in the proceedings: Thauziés, 1910 , p. 834.) (10) Physical phenomena related to mediumism. (Although mediums are claimed to channel messages from the dead, no such reports were presented. In the only presentation under this heading, Professor Sydney Alrutz of the University of Upsala, Sweden, presented evidence of transfer of energy from a person to a recording instrument, apparently by nonphysical means. The discussion from the floor raised doubts about these claims.) No sessions were scheduled in parallel, so that congress members could attend all the sessions they wished. The proceedings were the fullest of any congress to date, amounting to a volume of 877 pages.

The sessions on unification and standardization of psychological terminology were reported in a lengthy section of the proceedings of the congress (VIME Congrès International de Psychologie, 1910 , pp. 458–578). Professor Edouard Claparède, in introducing these sessions, pointed out that confusion reigned in psychology with regard to the use of specialized terms. He urged that it was high time for psychology to start to define and standardize its terminology, as other scientific disciplines had done or were engaged in doing. After noting desirable aims, he proposed that the congress name a special international commission to establish the bases of this work and that the commission report at the next congress. Adiscussion ensued about how many languages should be included in the commission, and it was decided to have one representative of each of the four official languages of the congress—English, French, German, and Italian. The artificial language Esperanto was proposed as a common language for unification of terminology, and part of the discussion was printed in that language, but the proposal was abandoned. It is not clear what happened to the special commission on unification of terminology during the long interval before the 7th congress in 1923, but no mention of that subject appears in its proceedings. The topic of terminology was taken up again vigorously, however, at the 10th and 11th congresses.

The International Committee, presided over by Professor Flournoy, added 35 new members (Flournoy, 1910b , pp. 835–836). Professor Flournoy also announced with regret the deaths of four members of the committee: Hermann Ebbinghaus (Germany), J. Mourly-Vold (Sweden), Ezio Sciamanna (Italy), and N. Vaschide (Romania). With the losses and new appointees, the International Committee now numbered 108 (Comité International de Propagande, 1910 ). (See the list of members in Appendix A.6 .) Montoro González (1982, p. 685) stated that the committee now included members from 22 countries, but that is based on the present boundaries. At the time, Austria-Hungary was a single monarchy, the current Czechoslovakia was then part of Austria; Finland and Poland were then parts of the Russian Empire. Fifteen of the members of the committee were French (14%), 15 Italian, 13 from the USA, 12 German, and 6 each from Belgium, Great Britain, and Switzerland. A Polish psychologist at the Geneva congress urged that members of the congress be classified by nationality (e.g., Polish) rather than by country (e.g., Russia), claiming that one’s nationality is a psychological reality, whereas country is only a geographical fact (Lutoslawski, 1910 , p. 841). No record of discussion of this matter appears in the proceedings, but the Swiss finessed the issue by listing the participants in the proceedings volume by city rather than by country. The proceedings of some earlier congresses had already followed this practice of listing participants by their city of residence, and the following congresses continued to do so.

Not only was the representation of countries in the committee greater than ever before, but as noted in Chapter 3 , the first woman was appointed to the International Committee: Polish psychologist, Dr I. Ioteyko, who was head of the laboratory of psychology at the University of Brussels (VIME Congrès International de Psychologie, 1910 , p. 835). Dr Ioteyko was one of eight Polish psychologists, five of them women, to propose at the Geneva congress that the next international congress be held in Warsaw. (As also noted in Chapter 3 , in the list of members of the 8th congress her name appeared as Prof Dr Jozefa Joteyko of Warsaw.)

Among those named to the International Committee in 1909 were two psychologists who were to be retained for several successive terms and then to serve on the first three Executive Committees of the International Union of Psychological Science, 1951–1960. These were Professor Henri Piéron of the University of Paris and Professor Albert Michotte of the University of Louvain. Piéron was the first President of the IUPsyS (1951–54) and Michotte was the third President (1957–60).

The final discussion about the organization of future international congresses revealed certain doubts about methods of choosing the speakers and topics, and it was also informative about the attempts of leading psychologists to make their discipline better defined and organized (VIME Congrès International de Psychologie, 1910 , pp. 841–847). Some discussants were concerned that certain speakers were not well qualified. One proposal was that communications be limited to experts invited by the Organizing Committee of the congress. There was also a proposal to limit discussion to designated experts. Another was that speakers be limited to people who had an official position in a scientific organization, such as a psychological society, a scientific journal, or an educational organization. This raised objections that it might limit the participation of psychologists from some countries such as Italy, who were productive but did not have a psychological society. One couldn’t force them to organize a society! Another speaker proposed limiting participation to those whose expertise gave them competence in psychology, including physicians, biologists, educators, and so forth. Finally, no action was taken to limit participation in future congresses, and the question was left up to future organizing committees. As we will see, the organizers of the 7th congress did decide to limit stringently the membership of that congress. The 6th congress did vote to request the organizers of the next congress to place on the program certain main themes for which rapporteurs would prepare papers to be circulated in advance of the congress.

The Geneva congress program included several social occasions, including the opening reception, a cruise on the lake, a dinner offered by the City of Geneva, and a farewell lunch at the Parc des Eaux-Vives.

The 1913 International Congress that never was

At the 6th congress, two petitions were put forward requesting the opportunity to host the 7th congress. One was an official petition from Polish psychologists for a congress in Warsaw. The other was a petition prepared by Morton Prince, a neurologist interested in abnormal behavior; it was not a formal invitation and no American institution offered to host the congress. Nevertheless, the International Committee, recalling that Americans had already offered in 1905 to play hosts, accepted the American proposal. It named Professor James Mark Baldwin of Johns Hopkins University as President and William James of Harvard University as Honorary President. Baldwin was empowered to choose the other members of the host committee, and difficulties in making the choices soon appeared, especially with regard to the Vice-Presidents. The story was recounted in detail by Evans and Down Scott (1978) , based on their examination of the correspondence of several major American psychologists. Evans and Down Scott claimed that the story shows that the politics of science is often as important a part of its history as the concepts involved. Since their article gave the story in detail, we will not attempt to recount it here. Personal rivalries and pique prevented effective organization of a congress. Much of the controversy revolved around James McKeen Cattell. Ironically, when an international congress of psychology finally took place in the United States in 1929, Cattell, having outlived his rivals, was elected President of the congress.

By the time the American committee informed the International Congress Committee in 1912 of its decision to withdraw as host, it was too late to organize a 1913 congress elsewhere. Then World War I started in 1914, and international meetings had to be suspended. It was not until 1923 that the 7th International Congress of Psychology took place at Oxford University.


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