Tag Archives: psychological test

New HoP: Instruments, Forensic Psychology in Germany, & More

The November 2015 issue of History of Psychology is now online.  Articles in this issue explore forensic psychology in Germany, phrenology in Gilded Age America, and much more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Anthropophagy: A singular concept to understand Brazilian culture and psychology as specific knowledge,” by Arthur Arruda Leal Ferreira. The abstract reads,

The aim of this work is to present the singularity of the concept of anthropophagy in Brazilian culture. This article examines its use in the Modernist Movement of the 1920s and explores the possibilities it creates for thinking about Brazilian culture in nonidentitarian terms. We then use the concept of anthropophagy in a broader, practical sense to understand psychology as a kind of anthropophagical knowledge. We do so because in many ways the discipline of psychology is similar to Brazilian culture in its plurality and complexity.

““God save us from psychologists as expert witnesses”: The battle for forensic psychology in early twentieth-century Germany,” by Heather Wolffram. The abstract reads,

This article is focused on the jurisdictional battle between psychiatrists and psychologists over psychological expertise in legal contexts that took place during the first decades of the 20th century. Using, as an example, the debate between the psychologist William Stern, the psychiatrist Albert Moll, and the jurist Albert Hellwig, which occurred at the International Congress for Sexual Research held in Berlin in 1926, it aims to demonstrate the manner in which psychiatrists’ responses to psychologists’ attempts to gain admittance to Germany’s courtrooms were shaped not only by epistemological and methodological objections, but also by changes to expert witnessing that had already encroached on psychiatrists’ professional territory. Building upon recent work examining the relationship between psychologists and jurists prior to the First World War, this article also seeks to examine the role of judges and lawyers in the contest over forensic psychology in the mid-1920s, arguing that they ultimately became referees in the increasingly public disputes between psychiatrists and psychologists.

“Psychological testing and the German labor market, 1925 to 1965,” by David Meskill. The abstract reads, Continue reading New HoP: Instruments, Forensic Psychology in Germany, & More

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Toronto Talk Oct. 30th: Testing Temperament at Work

Our Toronto area readers may be interested in an upcoming talk at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. Kira Lussier (right), a graduate student at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto, will be speaking on “Testing Temperament at Work: Human Relations, Labour Relations, and Industrial Psychology in Interwar America” on Wednesday, October 30th at 4pm. The event is free to the public, but advanced registration is required. Full details follow below.

Testing Temperament at Work: Human Relations, Labour Relations, and Industrial Psychology in Interwar America

Date: Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Time: 4:00PM – 6:00PM
Location: 208N, North House, Munk School of Global Affairs 1 Devonshire Place

Industrial psychologists in interwar America sought to convince corporate personnel departments that the insights of the human sciences, applied at work, would result in a more efficient, harmonious, and productive workforce. The defining methodology of these industrial psychologists was the pencil-and-paper psychological test, which they claimed could reveal a worker’s social and emotional disposition to predict behavior at work. One of the most widely-adopted tests of this kind was the Humm-Wadsworth Temperament Scale, first published in 1935; unlike other psychological instruments, this test was specifically created with industrial use in mind. Its creators—an industrial psychologist and a personnel manager — appealed to extant corporate concerns and drew on the ideology of “human relations,” to market their test as a scientific tool that would result in more harmonious labor relations. This paper argues that the legacy of this temperament testing was to forge a connection between workers’ affective disposition and the large-scale labor relations of the workplace: in selling their test to corporate clients, psychologists claimed that the psychological maladjustment of workers was one cause of labor unrest. These assumptions came under increasing attack by cultural critics like Daniel Bell, who identified personality tests as a particularly egregious management strategy to deflect attention from the broader socioeconomic structure of American capitalism. By unpacking this debate between the creators and critics of temperament testing, this paper explores the intersection of the politics of labor, the ideology of human relations and the practice of industrial psychology in interwar America.

Kira Lussier is a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto’s Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, and a Junior Fellow at the Jackman Humanities Institute. With an undergraduate degree in History from McGill University, her research interests lie at the intersection of the history of the human sciences and American social history. Her dissertation traces the history of personality testing and its critics in North American workplaces from the First World War to the Cold War. She has presented her research at the International Congress for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, and Cheiron: The International Society for the History of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

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