Information for Users

Origin and development of scientific psychology around the world: National (country) disciplines

by Hiroshi Imada and John G. Adair

Return to Origins Homepage
Go to list of countries

This section has its origin in the IUPsyS-sponsored symposium entitled “Origin and development of scientific psychology in different parts of the world: Retrospect and prospect at the turn of the century,” held at the XXVII International Congress of Psychology in Stockholm, Sweden, on July 25, 2000. The questions addressed at the symposium were:

  1. When and under what influences did scientific psychology originate in different parts of the world?

  2. What were intra- and inter-national/regional sources of influence that have affected the development of psychology into the present shape?

These questions were answered for two regions (Scandinavia and Latin America) and for two countries (Japan and China).

There were at least two reasons to organize the above symposium in spite of the fact that a symposium of a similar kind, also sponsored by IUPsyS, had been held in 1991 [see Rosenzweig, M. R., & Pawlik, K. (1994). The origin and development of psychology: Some national and regional perspectives (special issue). International Journal of Psychology, volume 29, issue 6].

  1. The first reason was to emphasize dynamic flow of influences among psychologists and psychological thought both within and across countries/regions. As the symposium convenor, the first author, therefore, encouraged each participant to draw a pedigree of scientific psychology in each country/region and across countries/regions.

  2. The second reason was that it seemed meaningful to organize a symposium of this kind in the year when the new century was about to begin—to retrospect our science of the passing century and to foresee its future in the coming century.

The number of speakers at the symposium had to be limited to four, and papers on psychology in Scandinavia, Latin America, Japan and China were presented. The symposium was a fruitful opportunity to exchange information about the growth of psychology in different parts of the world. Following the the symposium, the audience urged the presenters to publish the papers. The participants agreed to amend and revise their papers, and publish them in a special issue of the International Journal of Psychology (2001, volume 36, issue 6, pages 356–418), under the editorship of the convenor. To increase the coverage of the countries/regions included within the special issue, two more papers were added, one on Germany, the birthplace of scientific psychology, and the other on Spain, from which some influences on psychology in Latin American countries were presumed. These 6 articles were initially included in the 2002 Edition of the CD-ROM. Subsequently, for the 2005 edition of the CD-ROM, Psychology: IUPsyS Global Resource, two countries from the previously unrepresented continent of Oceania were added—a 1985 article on psychology in Australia and a new article on psychology in New Zealand. For the 2006 edition of the CD-ROM, we solicited an up-to-date article on psychology in Australia and reproduced a paper on psychology in sub-Saharan Africa that first appeared in 1995 in the International Journal of Psychology (volume 30, issue 6, pages 729–739). In the 2007 edition, we replaced the 1995 article on psychology in sub-Saharan Africa with a substantially revised update. In this edition, we include a chapter reproduced from the Handbook of International Psychology (Stevens & Wedding, 2004) on psychology in Egypt, a chapter which also contains information on the origins and development of psychology in other countries within the Arab world.

Table 1 (at the bottom of this page) summarizes the names of psychologists/philosophers who appeared across papers or in more than one paper. This will help in establishing the range of influence, as well as the limitation, of figures in the history of psychology.

As to the order of the papers in this section, first comes the paper on Scandinavia, where the XXVII ICP took place in 2000. This is followed, taking the retrograde turn around the globe, by papers on Germany, Spain, Latin America, Japan, and China—the last being the country in which the XXVIII ICP took place in 2004.

Appearing next are the most recent contributions to the CD-ROM on the origins and development of scientific psychology around the world:

  • An invited paper on Australia by Alison F. Garton, which first appeared in the 2005 edition of the CD-ROM.
  • An invited paper on New Zealand by Michael Corballis, which first appeared in the 2005 edition of the CD-ROM.
  • An invited article by A. Bame Nsamenang, which first appeared in the 2007 edition of the CD-ROM. entitled, “Origins and Development of Scientific Psychology in Afrique Noire,” as an update and substantial revision of his 1995 published article on psychology in Sub-Saharan Africa, which appeared in the International Journal of Psychology, and was reproduced in the 2006 edition.
  • For the current edition of the CD-ROM, we are pleased to include a chapter by Ramadan A. Ahmed entitled, “Psychology in Egypt.” The chapter was originally published by Brunner-Routledge in 2004 in the Handbook of International Psychology, edited by Michael J. Stevens and Danny Wedding.

Obviously, the choice of countries and regions is not exhaustive. Those readers interested in the psychology of countries/regions not included in the present special issue can find further information in the Bibliography and National Tour sections of this CD-ROM and in the Handbook of International Psychology (Stevens & Wedding, 2004), published by Brunner-Routledge.

In order to have a clear visual image of the country/region each paper is dealing with, each article in this section includes a relevant map near the beginning. The maps are taken from two sources:

  1. The CIA World Factbook (, whose information is in the public domain.

  2. The website at the University of Texas at Austin (, which displays part of the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection.

The maps have been subsequently modified to suit the purposes of this section of the CD-ROM.

List of countries



Zeitgeist, Ortgeist and personalities in the development of Scandinavian psychology (2001)
Ingvar Lundberg 



History of modern psychology in Germany in 19th- and 20th-century thought and society (2001)
Lothar Sprung and Helga Sprung 



The development of contemporary Spanish psychology (2001)
Helio Carpintero 

Latin America


Psychology in Latin America: Historical reflections and perspectives (2001)
Juan José Sánchez Sosa and Pablo Valderrama-Iturbe 



Shaping of scientific psychology in Japan (2001)
Tadasu Oyama, Tatsuya Sato, and Yuko Suzuki 



Modern Chinese psychology: Its indigenous roots and international influences (2001)
Qicheng Jing and Xiaolan Fu 



The origins and development of scientific psychology in Australia (2006)
Alison F. Garton 

New Zealand


The origins and development of scientific psychology in New Zealand (2005)
Michael Corballis 

           Afrique Noire
(Sub-Saharan Africa)


Origins and development of scientific psychology in Afrique Noire (2007)
A. Bame Nsamenang 



Psychology in Egypt (2008)
Ramadan A. Ahmed 

Table 1
Psychologists/philosophers appearing across the papers of this section

Psychologist or
of origin
Country of influence
W. Wundt Germany x x   x x x   x    
S. Freud Austria x   x x x          
B. F. Skinner USA x     x x     x    
L. Thurstone USA x   x x            
K. Lewin Germany   x   x x          
I. P. Pavlov Russia     x   x x        
A. Binet France     x x x   x     x
H. Höffding Denmark x         x        
W. James USA x         x x      
D. Katz Germany x x                
J. Piaget France x   x              
G. W. F. Hegel Germany                 x  
K. Buhler Germany   x x              
H. Ebbinghaus Germany   x   x            
C. G. Jung Switzerland   x     x          
W. Kohler Germany   x     x          
E. Kraepelin Germany   x     x          
E. Spranger Germany   x x              
M. Wertheimer Germany   x     x          
J. M. Charcot France     x x            
A. Garma Spain     x x            
E. Miraz-Lopez Cuba     x x            
M. Rodrigo Spain     x x            
T. Aquinas Italy       x   x        
Aristotle Greece       x   x        
H. Spencer UK       x x   x      
E. B. Titchener USA       x x     x    
J. Haven USA         x x        
A. Nishi Japan         x x        
C. Darwin UK x           x      
J. S. Mill UK       x     x      
Note: SC = Scandinavia, GE = Germany, SP = Spain, LA = Latin America, JA = Japan, CH = China, AU = Australia, NZ = New Zealand, AF = Afrique Noire (Sub-Saharan Africa), EG = Egypt.
It should be noted that more recently developed psychologies do not have an especially strong linkage to early philosophers and psychologists, but instead take up the discipline at a later point in its history. Furthermore, some national psychologies are not rooted in Western epistemological tradition. Thus, some “new” and indigenous psychologists make less reference to key figures in their origins than do other national country disciplines (e.g., Afrique Noire, Egypt).

Return to Origins Homepage
[Back to Top]

Hiroshi Imada
Kwansei Gakuin University,
Nishinomiya, Japan

John Adair
University of Manitoba,
Winnipeg, Canada

Updated September 2007