APS Observer: History of Psychology in Brazil

The October issue of the APS Observer features an article by Sergio Cirino (right), “Psychological Science Takes Off in Brazil”. While the article reviews the current state of psychological science in Brazil, it also provides a brief overview of the discipline’s history in the nation.

Cirino describes psychology’s “long past and short history” in Brazil, detailing the presence of psychological ideas in seventeenth and eighteenth century writings as well as the more formalized psychological practices that emerged in the nineteenth century. According to Cirino,

As in other countries, psychology also had a great deal of importance in the development of the field of education in Brazil. Several documents show a close link between psychology and education at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century in Brazil. One of the marks of this relationship between the two fields is the reform in the Brazilian educational system made by the Brazilian statesman Benjamin Constant in 1890.

One of the goals of the reform was to replace the literary dominance in education with a scientific one. The scientific spirit of the Benjamin Constant Reform introduced psychology into the teacher education curriculum in Normal Schools all over Brazil. The scientific ideals of the Benjamin Constant reform also led to the formation of several psychology labs. By the beginning of the 20th century, experimental psychology labs began being established, especially in Normal Schools. In 1906,  Medeiros e Albuquerque founded a lab in Rio de Janeiro.  In 1914, a lab was installed in São Paulo by Ugo Pizzoli, and in 1929 a lab was installed by Helena Antipoff in the state of Minas Gerais. The installation of labs in Normal Schools for teacher education is a clear indication of the importance of psychology for the foundation of scientific pedagogic practices.

The full article can be found here.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.