Chapter 7

The formative years of the Union

The shaping of an organization (1954–1960)

Since 1889, international congresses were the only means psychologists in various countries had at their disposal to coordinate their efforts toward international recognition and promotion of their incipient scientific knowledge. The need for central direction and a systematic deployment of energies had been recognized at several meetings and finally led to the creation of the International Union of Scientific Psychology in Stockholm in 1951, as presented in the previous chapter.

In the years that followed, psychologists made good use of this new structure to build an organization capable of coordinating the efforts of individual national societies, of establishing useful relations with other international scientific groups, and of providing guidelines for the rapid expansion of psychological knowledge.

The creation of the Union provided psychologists with new tools for the nurturing of international interaction and the accelerated development of the organization of psychology. Congresses remained important for the exchange of information and the stimulation of research, as well as providing a milieu for the encouragement of young scientists, needed in these initial years. The regular meeting of national member representatives and the work done between congresses by the Executive Committee contributed greatly to the improvement of structures and the development of relations with other scientific bodies, which were essential to the consolidation of psychology. This is evident in the report of the actions taken during and between congresses and in the increasing recruitment of national members, which characterize this period.

The 14th International Congress of Psychology, Montréal, Canada, 1954

In 1929, the United States had been the host of the first international congress of psychology to be held outside of Europe. Therefore, the North American psychologists were quite pleased to be asked, 25 years later, to assume the responsibility of organizing the 1954 international meeting of the newly founded International Union of Scientific Psychology (IUSP). .

Edward A. Bott (1887–1974): Co-president of the 14th International Congress of Psychology, Montréal, 1954.

It must be said that the participation in the 1929 meeting, which was held in New Haven, Connecticut, had been considerably limited due to the high cost of travel and the unfavorable rate of exchange of the US dollar, which had proved to be a deterrent even for Canadian psychologists (Pratt, 1954 ). It was felt that conditions overall had improved sufficiently to ensure a much larger participation in the 1954 congress.

It was therefore decided at the 1951 congress in Stockholm that the first congress following the creation of the IUSP would be held in Montréal under the joint sponsorship of the Canadian and American Psychological Associations with two Co-presidents, Edward C. Tolman, an American, and Edward Bott, a Canadian. Montoro González (1982 , p. 214) wrote that Tolman was appointed initially and that Bott was added as an honorary appointment.

Edward C. Tolman (1886–1959): Co-president of the 14th International Congress of Psychology, Montréal, 1954.

The congress actually took place on June 7–12, 1954, in two main venues: the Université de Montréal and McGill University. At the opening session at the Université de Montréal, the welcoming addresses were given by the Hon. Brooke Claxton representing the Government of Canada, the Hon. Daniel Johnson for the Government of Quebec, and Léon Lortie representing the Mayor of Montréal. Other speakers were: F. Cyril James, Principal of McGill University, Georges Deniger, Vice-Rector of the Université de Montréal, O. Herbert Mowrer, representing the American Psychological Association (APA), and Noël Mailloux for the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA). As President of the IUSP, Henri Piéron gave his presidential address.

Organization of the congress

The 14th congress was the first to be organized under the responsibility of the new IUSP. An interim committee of the Union appointed in March 1952 received nominations from the APA and the CPA, and named an Executive Committee for the organization of the congress. The Presidency of the Organizing Committee was held by Donald G. Marquis of the University of Michigan, while Noël Mailloux of the Université de Montréal was appointed Secretary and George A. Ferguson of McGill University was named Treasurer (see Table 7.1 for a complete listing of the members of the Organizing Committee).

The Organizing Committee met in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on January 24, 1953, where they created four subcommittees, that is (1) Scientific Program (chaired by Robert B. MacLeod), (2) Local Arrangements (chaired by Donald O. Hebb), (3) Placement (chaired by Edwin B. Newman) and (4) Procurement (chaired by Nelson W. Morton).


Organizational structure of the 14th International Congress of Psychology (Montréal, 1954)

Organizing Committee
D.G. Marquis (Chair)
N. Mailloux (Secretary)
G.A. Ferguson (Treasurer)
G. Barbeau
E.A. Bott
D.O. Hebb
G.W. Kisker
H.S. Langfeld
R.B. MacLeod
N.W. Morton
E.B. Newman
C.C. Pratt
R.W. Russell
F.H. Sanford
D.C. Williams

Program Committee
R.B. MacLeod (Chair)
R.B. Ammons
F. Beach
A.L. Benton
H. von Bracken
R.W. Burnham
C. Coombs
H.C.J. Duijker
J.J. Gibson
C.H. Graham
E.R. Hilgard
G.W. Kisker
J.C.R. Licklider
D.C. McClelland
D.G. Marquis
A.W. Melton
D.A.R. Moffatt
C.T. Morgan
G. Murphy
J. Nuttin
C.C. Pratt
R.N. Sanford
M.B. Smith
D.C. Williams
A.T.M. Wilson
D. Wolfle
C.F. Wrigley

Local Arrangements Committee
D.O. Hebb (Chair)
N. Mailloux (Secretary)
G.A. Ferguson (Treasurer)
G. Barbeau
D. Bélanger
D. Bindra
J.W. Bridges
T. Décarie
A. Lussier
L. Malmo
R.B. Malmo
A. Pinard
W.N. McBain
W.R. Thompson
E.C. Webster

A contribution of US$10,000 was offered by the APA as seed money to help in the preparation of the meeting: the Canadian contribution was almost symbolic (US$750). The revenues from the registration fees and the commercial exhibition amounted to US$12,740, for a total budget of US$23,495 (Montoro González, 1982 , p. 212). Registration fees had been set at US$15 for active members of US and Canadian psychological associations and at US$5 for active members from other countries, associate members, and students.

Despite a well-done promotional campaign, registrations came in very slowly. As the date of the meeting approached, there was a general apprehension that the number of participants would indeed be very low, possibly due to the length and cost of travel to North America and the fact that the complete scientific program of the congress had not been distributed in advance. To avoid the possibility of a serious under-representation of psychologists from outside North America, and especially from Europe, financial support was obtained from foundations, commercial enterprises, and private individuals in order to support, at least partially, the travel costs of eminent representatives of European psychology (Montoro González, 1982 , p.215). Travel grants were awarded to 59 persons from 19 countries, for a total of US$18,370. Several summer appointments and lectureships in the United States and Canada were arranged to provide small stipends to overseas psychologists, which stipends were often matched by the universities or governments of the appointees.

The deadline for advanced registration was also postponed and special notices were sent to members of the American Psychological Association, the Canadian Psychological Association, and the Eastern Psychological Association, with the hope of enhancing the local participation of North American psychologists.

In spite of all these efforts, only 1020 persons registered (876 members and 144 associate members and students), whereas preparation had been made for an attendance of 2500. Needless to say, this lower than expected registration gave rise to serious financial difficulties. Out of the 1020 participants, 54% were from the USA, while 33% were from Canada, for a total of 87%; the remaining 13% came from 31 countries (Proceedings of the XIVth International Congress of Psychology, 1955). Despite the weak representation from outside North America, it is interesting to note that a delegation of five eminent Soviet psychologists, A. Leontiev, E.N. Sokolov, E.A. Asratyan, B.M. Teplov, and A.B. Zaporozhets, attended.

Scientific program

A new program structure, which departed from that used previously, was introduced by the Scientific Program Committee. There was no general call for papers; only suggestions for session topics were solicited. To avoid the problems encountered in previous congresses, where the number of papers presented was often deemed excessive and to ensure the best possible scientific quality, the number of oral presentations was limited (Montoro González, 1982 , p.216). For the sake of unity and coherence, only invited papers were presented during the congress. Two criteria were used in the selection of invited papers: on the one hand, the committee relied on the suggestion of IUSP members and, on the other hand, made their own choices based on their knowledge of the specialized areas and the quality of the work of different colleagues, as well as their ability to make a significant contribution to the thematic sessions that had been identified. There were actually two types of sessions where oral presentations could be made: the general sessions and the symposia. The general sessions were limited to keynote addresses by five eminent scholars:

The symposia were designed to be accompanied by active discussions and the themes were chosen to be representative of the current fields of interest in psychology. As noted by Montoro González (1982 , p. 217), many of the symposia titles contained adjectives such as “present,” “recent,” “new,” to clearly indicate this desire to reflect current interests. Finally, the program included some special sessions, a commercial exhibition, and the projection of specialized films mostly concerned with methodological issues in psychology.

In their content analysis of the material presented based on Montoro González (1982) , Montoro González, Tortosa, and Carpintero (1992) note that the following domains of psychology were best represented: psychometry, sensation and perception, as well as general psychology. But the fields of learning and social psychology were also among the major areas under discussion; they note that learning was especially popular with Soviet and American colleagues. Moderately popular in the program were physiological psychology and animal psychology, the latter in relation to the numerous studies on learning.

The two Montréal universities seized this occasion to honor renowned psychologists who were major figures of the 14th congress, by awarding doctorates “honoris causa.” Such degrees were awarded to Herbert S. Langfeld, Albert Michotte, and Henri Piéron by the Université de Montréal, and to Edward Bott, Jean Piaget, and Edward Tolman by McGill University.

From left to right: Noël Mailloux (Montréal), Edward A. Bott (Toronto), Herbert S. Langfeld (Harvard), Henri Piéron (Paris), and Jean Piaget (Geneva) at the 14th International Congress of Psychology, Montréal, 1954.

The last event associated with the 14th congress was the special UNESCO symposium held on Saturday morning, June 13, 1954, on “The evaluation of international action programs.”

The general feeling of the participants was that the organization of the congress had been rigorous and innovative (Montoro González, 1982 , p.213). The weak participation was probably due, at least in part, to the absence of a general call for papers. It should also be mentioned that participants to the congress had been greatly impressed and pleased by the sumptuous reception hosted by the Mayor of Montréal at the “Chalet de la Montagne.”

General Assembly, Montréal 1954

During the Montréal congress, on June 6, 1954, the General Assembly of the newly created IUSP met for the first time since its foundation in 1951 at Stockholm. The IUSP President, French psychologist Henri Piéron, chaired the meeting, with participants from 14 countries, as well as 5 observers (including Otto Klineberg representing UNESCO). At the request of Secretary-General Langfeld, the minutes of the Assembly held in Stockholm, previously printed and circulated, were approved. In his report, Langfeld noted that at the General Assembly held in 1951, the IUSP represented 19 countries. At the 1954 Assembly meeting the Yugoslavian Psychological Society was admitted to the Union, bringing the total to 20.

Membership issues

Since the Union was just at its beginnings, membership issues were of paramount importance. Discussions were held concerning the admission criteria; while some members felt that they needed to have as much information as possible on a potential member society for their evaluation of the candidate, others, such as Fraisse, thought that a psychological association of a given country should be admitted as long as it was legitimate and representative. However, in certain countries, such as Brazil for instance, there were many psychological societies, and it was feared that “the Union might recognize a society which did not bear the stamp of national character” (General Assembly Minutes, June 6, 1954). It was suggested that in some cases the problem could be resolved by asking different societies to get together and form a national society, which would be truly representative. It was noted that Article 6 of the Statutes did in fact include this possibility: “The members of the Union shall be national societies of scientific psychology, regularly established, or where there is more than one society in one country, a federation or association which includes all of them.” This point having been satisfactorily clarified, the Yugoslavian Psychological Society was unanimously accepted as a new member of the Union.

Relations with UNESCO

After the Stockholm meeting, the relations with UNESCO developed rapidly, especially within its Department of Social Sciences, and were very profitable to the Union. In fact, the Union had been officially granted a consultative status with UNESCO. This meant that UNESCO could refer to the Union for the purpose of obtaining the information it needed, and that it could also entrust the Union with specific projects and allocate funds for their realization. In fact, UNESCO had already sponsored a meeting of social psychologists from various countries in Paris, during the summer of 1952, to explore various problems and potential research projects, as well as a meeting of the Executive Committee of the IUSP, in 1953, in preparation of the present meeting and essentially for the purpose of revising the Statutes. Grants had also been made available for two specific projects: (1) “The study of social psychology throughout the world” (under the direction of Jacobson and Nuttin), and (2) “Centers for research in social psychology” (undertaken by Duijker).

Research projects

Secretary-General Langfeld reported on a survey he had conducted at the request of the Executive Committee, asking the members of the Union to rank order different potential research projects and symposia. Two topics tied for first place: psychological techniques for the study of national characteristics, and the socialization of the child. Other topics, by order of importance, were (1) information and attitude change, (2) national stereotypes: their origin, character and effects, (3) international contacts and attitude change, (4) the teaching of social psychology, (5) attitudes toward productivity in various countries, and (6) technological change.

Admission to the International Council of Scientific Unions

Also discussed during this meeting was the relationship between the newly founded IUSP and the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU). Although the Union had already applied four times for admission, without success, a fifth application had been filed. It was decided to solicit the comments of various distinguished scientific bodies, such as the British Royal Society and the US National Academy of Science, regarding this application; Secretary-General Langfeld was asked to prepare a report for the latter, while Sir Frederic Bartlett would supply information to the Royal Society. Both agreed that the actual prospects of being admitted were rather tenuous, but that “perhaps, some day, they would be admitted…” (Executive Committee Minutes, 1954). It was noted that, unless the Union became a member of ICSU, it could not expect to get much support from the Scientific Division of UNESCO. The absence of a formal recognition of psychology in many countries, as well as the fact that the scientific character of psychology was not universally recognized, were regarded as the probable main reasons why the Union applications were repeatedly turned down. It also seemed that ICSU did not want to expand its membership to any great extent. In any case, if psychology were to be included in a group known as the Biological Associations, such a group would have only one representative on the ICSU Executive Committee. Such a solution, which would weaken psychology and jeopardize its autonomy, was deemed unacceptable. Some members expressed concerns about meeting with a fifth refusal; they preferred to wait until the Union was reasonably certain of being accepted. Langfeld indicated that, in view of certain changes in the leadership of ICSU, he was optimistic about the Union’s chances regarding the fact that previous votes had been very close. He further added that “the pleasant side to the story was that the biologists and the physiologists were heartily in favor of the Union being admitted,” as were scientists in both England and the USA.

Relations with the International Social Science Council

Regarding the affiliation of the Union with the International Social Science Council (ISSC), one of its representatives, Klineberg (the other being Piaget), noted that the ISSC, contrary to the practices reinforced by ICSU, did not want to allocate research funds to its various constituent societies, but preferred instead that each society make its own arrangements with UNESCO. In addition, he mentioned that the relationship between the UNESCO Department of Social Sciences and IUSP could not be limited to social psychologists, but applied to psychologists as a whole. This could mean that in the future, the Union could not make its own arrangements with the UNESCO Department of Natural Sciences.

International Directory of Psychologists

The possibility of establishing an International Directory of Psychologists was raised by Secretary-General Langfeld. It was deemed that only a small amount of money would be needed to work on such an appealing proposition and to obtain the collaboration of key people in different member countries in providing the Union with the list of their members. The name, degree, position held, type of research done, etc. would be listed. Since many countries did not have such a list, but were contemplating its establishment, it was felt that the Union should go along with the project, provided there was financial assistance.

Financial matters

The Secretary-General presented the Treasurer’s report in replacement of David Katz, who had been appointed Treasurer in Stockholm, but who had passed away during the preceding year. This report covered the whole period between the Stockholm meeting and the opening of the congress. For these 3 years, the total expenditures were of US$ 1786.31. With regard to income, it was noted that the UNESCO funds had just been made available the previous March, so that the Union had to rely on its own funds for the expenses of the preceding months. Other income included the surpluses (in kroner) from the 12th and 13th International Congresses, as well as the 1951–52 membership dues for the USA and Japan, which had been paid in dollars. It was mentioned that, in fact, most of the expenses incurred by the Union were actually being met by the USA, UK, Canada and Japan, since the other member countries were paying very small dues, and some countries had not paid their dues for the past 3 years. Secretary-General Langfeld suggested to overlook the past and to begin collecting dues with a clean slate. In view of the financial difficulties incurred by some countries, the minimum dues payment was reduced to US$10. A budget of US$ 2400 (US$ 400 coming from the Union funds and US$ 2000 from UNESCO) was proposed and adopted unanimously for the next calendar year starting on January 1, 1955. It was deemed important eventually to allocate a stipend to the Secretary-General when the budget would permit and to enhance the research efforts.

A motion was then approved to change the fiscal year of the Union, from July 1–June 30, to the calendar year, in order to fall in line with UNESCO practices. It was proposed to start collecting the new dues on January 1, 1955. It was also deemed appropriate to have the present Secretary-General and also acting Treasurer, Langfeld, step down at this same date in order to allow them sufficient time to bring all material up to date and to prepare the report for 1954.

Revision of the 1951 Statutes

A revision of the original 1951 Statutes was undertaken. To prevent a potential time-consuming discussion of amendments examined article by article, these were adopted as a whole, considering the fact that the changes had been discussed for 3 days by the Executive Committee. Article 11, giving two votes to certain countries on the basis of their membership (one vote: less than 500 members, two votes: more than 500), and also giving two votes to “A society in existence for at least 50 years at the time of the establishment of the Union and whose membership is limited by its statutes…” was discussed. This latter provision, which had been added specifically to take into consideration the special case of France, was questioned. Arguments were raised in support of the important role played by the French society, as well as the fact that the problem might disappear with the reorganization of French psychology. The article was finally accepted, with only one negative vote. The suggestion was made to Mr. Queiroz, the observer from Brazil, to examine the possibility of forming a national Brazilian society representative of the many organizations currently grouping psychologists in his country.

Elections of the Executive Committee

During the afternoon session of the General Assembly, the first item on the agenda was the election of a President and a Vice-President. Three names

Noël Mailloux (1909–1997): Treasurer of the IUSP (1954–1976).

had been put forward for the presidency: Bartlett, Michotte, and Piaget. Since the two first nominees declined, Piaget from Switzerland was elected President by acclamation. For the vice-presidential position, there were two candidates, Rasmussen (Denmark) and Germain (Spain); Rasmussen was elected by majority vote. The results of the election to the Executive Committee (10 positions) were as follows: Klineberg (USA), Bartlett (UK), Piéron (France), Mailloux (Canada), Drever (UK), Germain (Spain), Langfeld (USA), Michotte (Belgium), Elmgren (Sweden), and Duijker (the Netherlands).

It was agreed that the new Secretary-General and the new Treasurer be appointed at a meeting of the incoming Executive Committee immediately after the congress.

Choice of the next congress venue

The selection of the venue for the next International Congress of Psychology was debated. Many candidates were suggested—Montevideo, Rome, Amsterdam—although members felt that they were unable to commit themselves before returning to their home country and considering the matter. It was decided that the Executive Committee would look into this matter and consult with the member countries at a later date.

Executive Committee meeting, Montréal 1954

On June 12, the incoming Executive Committee, chaired by Piaget, met for the first time. It was first decided that, as a general rule, observers should not attend the meetings of the Executive Committee, but could occasionally be allowed to do so when discussions on special local problems made it necessary.

Otto Klineberg (1899–1992): Secretary–General of the IUSP (1954–1960). Later President of the IUSP (1960–1963). Also, President of the 17th International Congress of Psychology, Washington, 1963.

Klineberg was elected Secretary-General, and Germain, Deputy Secretary-General. Mailloux was elected Treasurer. It was decided to leave the task of appointing an Executive Secretary to help the officers of the Union in their functions to the Secretary-General and the Treasurer.

The question of allowing Executive Committee members to appoint substitutes to the meetings of the committee with the right to vote led to a long discussion. Although some strongly favored this option, others were strongly opposed. It was finally decided unanimously that since a statute change would be required, the question would be submitted to the next General Assembly.

The Secretary-General proposed that Acta Psychologica be asked to publish the proceedings of the congress as a special issue, and that therefore this journal be published under the auspices of the Union. The Union might publish notices in Acta Psychologica from time to time, without precluding publications in other journals. There would be no financial obligations on the part of the Union, but the proceedings should probably be financed from outside sources. It was also suggested that a member of the Union be appointed on the editorial staff to act as its representative. It was agreed that the Secretary-General should approach Acta Psychologica and seek an agreement on these issues.

The question of asking the editorial board of the Psychological Abstracts to enlarge its scope was also raised. It was thought that they might, at some time in the near future, be published in languages other than English. But no action was taken.

Executive Committee meeting, Paris 1955

A special meeting of the Executive Committee of the IUSP was held, on August 2 and 3, 1955, at the UNESCO House in Paris. The President of the Union, Jean Piaget, opened this meeting, which was attended by Secretary-General Klineberg and Treasurer Mailloux, as well as by the following members of the Committee: Piéron, Elmgren, Duijker, Germain, and Rasmussen. K. Szczerba, of UNESCO, as well as George Ferguson, of McGill University (Canada), who had been Treasurer of the Montréal 1954 congress, attended as observers.

Venue of the 15th congress

After the adoption of the agenda, the discussion centered on the major issue to be dealt with at this meeting: the choice of the venue for the next International Congress of Psychology.

Although a suggestion had been made to hold the forthcoming congress in Belgium, Michotte had not, by then, been able to secure appropriate subsidies from the Belgian Government. Other possible candidates were Spain, Italy, and Yugoslavia. The committee decided to ask Germain to examine the possibility of a congress in Madrid, Spain, if the Belgium venue proved to be impossible. Unless the financial difficulties proved to be unsolvable, the 1957 congress would be held in Belgium.

Organization of congresses

A discussion followed on the nature of the problems raised by the organization of a congress. Szczerba indicated that UNESCO might be able to help, perhaps by having their Director-General send a circular letter to all member states asking governments to subsidize the travel expenses of their national participants.

Ferguson gave a brief account of the financial involvement of the Montréal congress, which had a total budget of approximately US$50,000, much of which went to pay for the travel of delegates. However, most of the work done in preparation of the congress relied on voluntary labor at no cost to the congress budget. It was noted by Piéron that the financial requirements depended heavily on the type of congress and what needed to be prepared for the delegates in the way of entertainment, etc. The difficulties associated with the date chosen for this event were considered; it was recognized that whatever dates selected, the decision could not please everyone. Both Ferguson and Mailloux insisted on the necessity of advance publicity and a very early planning of the budget in order to help the coordination of efforts and to avoid the possibility of two congresses of this nature being held in the same area within a brief interval.

The problem of having open sessions, at which papers without mutual relevance would be presented, was raised and it was decided to inform the organizers of the next congress that the Executive Committee would be ready, if they so wished, to nominate a group of their own to help with the planning of the scientific program. It was also suggested that the three following points be taken into consideration: (1) to have invited lecturers; (2) to program several symposia in the “Montréal style,” and (3) to offer several open sessions, but on predetermined subjects.

Relations with the International Council of Scientific Unions

The next item on the agenda was the Union’s application for membership of the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU). It was agreed that Piéron, who was to attend the next ICSU meeting in Oslo during the following week, would be the best advocate for this task. It was recalled that, at the last General Assembly meeting of the Union, both the Canadian and British delegates (the latter being at that time the Secretary-General of the Union) had voted against the motion to apply for membership in ICSU. President Piaget noted that the existence of a Section on Experimental Psychology within ICSU was not an obstacle to full membership of the Union; he also remarked that, since the Union was receiving grants from UNESCO, the issue was not of a financial nature, but one of principle. Klineberg, however, did not think that this application should be maintained indefinitely and made the suggestion that, were it not to be accepted this time, the whole issue should be reexamined before putting forward another such request.

A letter dated June 22, in which Langfeld asked the Executive Committee to establish a “Bureau” for the Section on Experimental Psychology that belonged to the International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS), was read to those present. Member associations from seven countries had endorsed this petition. After discussion, it was resolved that, in spite of the absence of any official connection between the Union and this section, the following tentative list of names could be proposed: Piéron as President, Donald Hebb as Secretary-General, Graham, Piaget, and Bartlett as Vice-Presidents, Ubeda as Executive Secretary, and Buytendijk and Murinaka as substitutes.

International Directory of Psychologists

Duijker informed the Executive Committee that he had received an invitation to assume the European editorship for an International Directory of Psychologists and requested the recommendations of the committee. The Washington-based International Council of Research, of which Klineberg was a member, had adopted this project. Duijker indicated that the project raised a number of problems, including that related to the question “What is a psychologist?,” as well as the criteria for the definition of a psychologist and the question as to whom to send the questionnaire necessary to obtain the information required to establish such a directory. The Union had no official information which could be used. It was generally agreed that in addition to local recognition as a psychologist, the only possible criterion for the inclusion in the list was the publication of scientific works.

Membership issues

Questions related to the actual membership of the newly founded Union were examined. It was felt that in some countries the member associations were not representative at all of the psychologists in those countries; Brazil and Uruguay were given as examples. It was felt that some countries should be told that they would not be able to adhere to the IUSP unless they established a truly representative psychological society in their country. Although no Soviet society existed as yet, it was mentioned that it had been decided to constitute one. Piéron also mentioned that the necessary modifications to widen the scope of the French Society had been made. A certain number of countries were to be solicited by the Secretary-General for membership in the Union: India, Australia, Portugal, Austria, and Turkey. With regard to East Germany, it was agreed that as long as Germany was not reunited, there were no reasons why two societies should not coexist, and invitations should be received and accepted from either.

Publication program

The decision was made to collaborate with UNESCO on the drafting of textbooks to be used for advanced training courses in psychology in various developing countries. It was also decided to prepare a work plan, with the help of UNESCO, for the international study of the origin and development of national images or stereotypes. A commission, composed of Klineberg, Duijker, and Mailloux, was formed to work out the details of this project, and it was agreed that the Union should subsidize such a study. The same group was also asked to prepare a project to foster the contribution of psychologists to the problem of “peaceful cooperation and/or coexistence” among the nations, following a recommendation made at the UNESCO General Conference. Mailloux was asked to represent the Union at a meeting of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Paris to discuss UNESCO’s future program.

On the matter of publications, Klineberg proposed the creation of a quarterly International Newsletter providing details of international activities, new research, the organization of institutes of research, programs for the teaching of psychology in various universities, etc. The project received the approval of the committee. The publication of the first issue was planned for October 1955 and would be sent to all members of the Assembly. It was also noted that the Psychological Abstracts should present a wider international coverage of reviews and books. The proposition was made to reconstitute the International Committee, which could make an effort to remedy this type of situation.

Administrative and financial issues

Relations with other international organizations in psychology were also a subject of discussion. It was decided that certain associations should be represented as observers (without voting rights) at the Assembly and it was suggested that the Statutes of the Union be amended to reflect this “Associated Organizations” category.

Concerning financial matters, Treasurer Mailloux summarized the financial situation of the Union and produced a financial statement. Mention was made of the request made by Michotte for a loan to help the organization of the next congress in Belgium, but no decision was taken.

The 15th International Congress of Psychology, Brussels, Belgium, 1957

As decided at the 1955 meeting of the Executive Committee of the Union, the 15th International Congress of Psychology was held in Brussels, Belgium, from July 28 to August 3, 1957. The venue of the meeting was the Université Libre de Bruxelles. The congress was held under the auspices of the IUSP and the Belgian Society of Psychology, under the patronage of the King of Belgium, His Majesty Baudoin I. Financial support was provided not only by the IUSP, but also by the Belgian government. The Ford Foundation provided travel grants to enable the participation of over 25 Americans. Table 7.2 presents the organizational structure of the congress.

The presidency of the congress was assumed by Baron Albert Michotte van den Berck, Director of the Experimental Psychology Laboratory of the Université de Louvain and Member of the Royal Academy of Belgium, an internationally renowned scholar in the area of perception. René Nyssen of the Université de Bruxelles and Past President of the Belgian Society of Psychology, was appointed President of the General Organization Committee, whereas Joseph Nuttin of the Université de Louvain presided over the Scientific Program Committee. The Secretary-General of the congress was Louis Delys, and the Treasurer, Gérard Goosens. Meetings of the Organization and Program Committees were held periodically from the beginning of 1956 to the time of the congress (Proceedings of the XVth International Congress of Psychology, 1959 , p. xv).

A record attendance

Albert Michotte (1881–1965): President of the 15th International Congress of Psychology, Brussels, 1957; later President of the IUSP, 1957–1960.

A record number of 1256 psychologists (including 951 regular members) coming from 47 different countries registered for the congress (Proceedings of the XVth International Congress of Psychology, 1959 , p. XVI). The largest national delegation came from the USA (28%) and was even superior to the local Belgian participation (20%). Definitely an international event, this congress attracted delegations from Poland (headed by Blakowski of the University of Poznan) as well as from the USSR (conducted by Smirnov, President of the newly founded Russian Psychological Society, and Leontiev). Also present, right beside the delegation of the Federal Republic of Germany, was the East German delegation headed by Gottschaldt, director of the Institute of Psychology at Humboldt University. Egyptian psychologists were also seated adjacent to their Israeli colleagues (Piéron, 1957 , pp. 625–626).

Registration was 500 Belgian francs for regular members (psychologists and other related professionals), and 250 Belgian francs for associate members (students and accompanying persons).


Organizational structure of the 15th International Congress of Psychology (Brussels, 1957)

General Organizing Committee
President: René Nyssen (Université de Bruxelles)

a. Members appointed by the IUSP
Jean Piaget (Switzerland)
Otto Klineberg (USA)
Noël Mailloux (Canada)
Henri Piéron (France)

b. Members appointed by the Belgian Society of Psychology
R. Buyse (Université de Louvain)
L. Coetsier (University of Ghent)
J. De Busscher (Université libre de Bruxelles)
—. De Clerck (Belgian Society of Psychology)
W. De Coster (Université libre de Bruxelles)
L. Delys (Université libre de Bruxelles)
G. de Montpellier (Université de Louvain)
A. Fauville (Université de Louvain)
F. Fransen (University of Ghent)
L. Knops (Université de Louvain)
J. Kriekemans (Université de Louvain)
J. Ley (Université libre de Bruxelles)
A. Michotte (Université de Louvain)
J. Nuttin (Université de Louvain)
A. Ombredane (Université libre de Bruxelles)
P. Osterrieth (Université libre de Bruxelles)
N. Paulus ( Université de Liège)
R. Piret (Université de Liège)

Program Committee
J. Nuttin (Chair)
L. Coetsier
L. Delys
G. de Montpellier
A. Fauville
A. Michotte
R. Nyssen
A. Ombredane
P. Osterrieth
N. Paulus

Jean Piaget (1896–1980): President of the IUSP, 1954–1957.

The opening ceremony was held in the Grand Hall of the Université Libre de Bruxelles. On this occasion, welcome speeches were made by W. Vermeylen, the Belgian Minister of the Interior, as well as by Jean Piaget and Otto Klineberg, respectively President and Secretary-General of the Union, by the President of the congress, Albert Michotte, and by Henri Piéron, in the name of the foreign participants. Michotte then gave the inaugural address (“Réflexions sur le rôle du language dans l’analyse des structures perceptives”). Other evening lectures were given during the following days by Wolfgang Köhler (“Psychologie und Naturwissenschaft”), Jean Piaget (“Le rôle des modèles d’équilibre dans l’explication en psychologie: rétroactions, anticipations et opérations”) and by Clyde Kluckhohn, of Harvard University, USA (“Anthropology and psychology”).

Scientific program

The Program Committee had made a special effort to regroup the presentations into thematic sessions. In fact, to better identify the current themes of the sessions, a survey had been previously conducted with researchers in different areas and with the different psychological societies in the IUSP. The presentation of the 26 various themes that were retained was through (1) general conferences (opening lectures and keynote addresses), (2) symposia, (3) individual presentations, and (4) colloquia. Twenty four themes were retained for the symposia (see Table 7.3 ).

15th Congress—Brussels, 1957: Congress participants outside the venue.

Individual papers were regarded as the prolongation of the different themes, adding more flexibility to the presentations of the symposia. Finally, the colloquia consisted of round-table discussions with a limited number of specialists. These colloquia dealt with practical issues : (1) the training of psychologists, (2) psychological terminology, and (3) cooperation between psychologists and neuro-psychiatrists.

Classifying the 329 presentations at the congress by subject, 16% were in the area of sensation and perception, 15% in the area of psychometry, 12% in social psychology, 9% in physiological psychology, 6% each in general psychology and evolutionary psychology (Montoro González, 1982 , p.229).


Themes of the symposia: 15th International Congress of Psychology (Brussels, 1957)

Interdisciplinary approach: values (Chair: Clyde Kluckhohn)
The problem of measurement with respect to intensity of sensation (Chair: Henri Piéron)
Information theory and its applications in psychology (Chair: Sir Frederic Bartlett)
Non-parametric structural analysis (Chair: Benoit Mandelbrot)
The phenomenology of behavior (Chair: Robert MacLeod)
Methodological problems in the psychological study of indigenous black populations of Africa (Chair: S. Biesheuvel)
Biochemical processes and behavior (Chair: Roger W. Russell)
Brain and behavior (Chair: Ward C. Halstead)
The neurological basis of perception (Chair: O.L. Zangwill)
Space perception (Chair: R.C. Oldfield)
Psychology of time (Chair: Henri Piéron)
From perception to thought (Chair: Martin Scheerer)
Dynamic factors in perception (Chair: Jerome S. Bruner)
Human motivation (Chair: Joseph Nuttin)
Conflict, decision and post-decision phenomena (Chair: Sir Frederic Bartlett)
Current approaches to the theory of emotion (Chair: J. Paulus)
Longitudinal studies in personality (Chair: A.G. Skard)
Early childhood experiences and personality development, psychoanalytic concepts and experimental findings (Chair: Robert R. Sears)
The theoretical bases of projective techniques and assessment procedures (Chair: Gardner Murphy)
Problems of religious psychology (Chairs: Robert H. Thouless, A.T. Welford)
Interpersonal perception (Chair: Urie Bronfenbrenner)
National characteristics and stereotypes (Chair: Otto Klineberg)
Psychological and social aspects of automation (Chair: James Drever Jr)
Psychological and social aspects of the cinema (Chair: Robert Zazzo)
The two other themes suggested (language and learning) were not the object of symposia.

The Proceedings of the 15th Congress (1959) were published by North-Holland, and also as a special issue of Acta Psychologica.

On Tuesday, July 29, a luncheon was offered by the Belgian Society of Psychology to the following foreign participants who were elected Honorary Members of the Society: Bartlett, Klineberg, Kluckhohn, Köhler, Langfeld, Piaget, and Piéron. The traditional closing banquet was held on Friday, August 2. Visits to the laboratories and facilities of the Université Libre de Bruxelles and of the Université de Louvain were arranged for August 3.

The congress organizers generally considered, on the basis of the good atmosphere encountered, the broad participation, and the positive opinions expressed by experienced as well as less experienced participants, that the Brussels congress definitely reached the goal it had set itself: an occasion of intellectual confrontation and scientific exchange.

General Assembly, Brussels 1957

The General Assembly of the IUSP was held in Brussels on the Sundays that preceded (July 28) and that followed (August 4) the congress. Nineteen of the 21 member societies of IUSP were represented by delegates.

After introductory remarks by Piaget, President of IUSP, the Secretary-General and the Treasurer presented their reports, which were commended and approved. The Assembly then proceeded to elect, as new members, the psychological societies of New Zealand and Australia (even though these were branches of the British Psychological Society), Poland, USSR, and Turkey. Counting these new admissions, the membership of IUSP now reached 26 countries.

From left to right: Henri Piéron, Jean Piaget, and Wolfgang Köhler at the 15th International Congress of Psychology, Brussels, 1957.

By virtue of an addition to the Statutes that had been voted by mail ballot, it was announced that the following international organizations in psychology were granted “Associate” status in the Union: the International Association of Applied Psychology, l’Association de psychologie scientifique de langue française, and the Interamerican Society of Psychology.

In his report, Secretary-General Klineberg mentioned the success of the book entitled Perspective in Personality Theory (H. David & H. von Bracken, Eds.) which was published under the auspices of the Union after the Montréal congress. He further added that the Union was considering the financial support of a psychological lexicon in three languages (French, English and German) and that it would also continue to collaborate with the editors of the International Directory of Psychologists, looking into the possibility of periodically reviewing this directory. The possibility of periodically making available English translations of major psychology papers published in a foreign language would also be considered by the Executive Committee; a group of psychologists met during the Brussels congress to consider this issue more in depth. Secretary-General Klineberg ended his report by listing the different grants received by the Union. He mentioned the financial support provided by the Research Institute for the Study of Man to extend the pilot study originally funded through UNESCO on “The origins and developments of national stereotypes in children.”

Treasurer Mailloux’s report on the finances of the Union for the 1955, 1956, and 1957 period was approved unanimously.

Following the request of some Scandinavian countries to eliminate the possibility of voting by mail ballot, the Executive Committee approved an amendment to the Statutes that specifies that in such cases, a 2/3 majority of voters would be required.

In the absence of applications to host the next congress, the Executive Committee was once again charged to take a decision concerning the venue and time of the 16th congress that would, in principle, be held in 1960.

The results of the elections of the Executive Committee conducted during the second (August 3) General Assembly meeting were the following: Michotte (Belgium) (President), Drever (UK) (Vice-President). The following members of the Executive Committee were re-elected: Bartlett (UK), Duijker (Netherlands), Klineberg (USA), Mailloux (Canada), and Piéron (France). New members were: Mäki (Finland), Nuttin (Belgium), Piaget (Switzerland), Russell (USA), and Mrs. A. Skard (Norway).

Executive Committee meeting, Brussels 1957

On August 3, at the end of the second General Assembly meeting, the newly elected Executive Committee met for the first time and Klineberg, Duijker, and Mailloux were appointed Secretary-General, Deputy Secretary-General, and Treasurer, respectively, of IUSP.

Among the decisions taken was the appointment of two commissions, one to revise further the Statutes of the Union with a particular emphasis on the establishment of working relations between the Union and a national society for the purpose of organizing an international congress, and the other to examine ways to enhance cooperation with Psychological Abstracts. It was also decided to provide funds for an English-German-French lexicon of psychology to be prepared by Wolfgang Luthe, as well as to support an Inter-Union Symposium on Chromatic Discrimination (organized by the Experimental Psychology Section of the International Union of Biological Sciences).


González Solaz, J. (1998). Los Congresos Internacionales de Psicologia (1963–1984). Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Valencia, Spain.

Montoro González, L. (1982). Los Congresos Internacionales de Psicologia (1889–1960). Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Valencia, Spain.

Montoro González, L., Tortosa, F.M., & Carpintero, H. (1992). Brief history of the international congresses of psychology. In M. Richelle & H. Carpintero (Eds.), Contributions to the history of the international congresses of psychology. Revista de la Historia de la Psicologia Monograph and Studia Psychologica. Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press.

Piéron, H. (1957). Chronique: le XVième Congrès International de Psychologie. Année Psychologique, 57, 625–626.

Pratt, C.C. (1954). The XIVth International Congress of Psychology. American Journal of Psychology, 67, 551–553.

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Proceedings of the XVth International Congress of Psychology, Brussels, Belgium, 1957. (1959). Amsterdam: North-Holland.