A new piece in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences will interest AHP readers: “A useful science: Criminal interrogation and the turn to psychology in Germany around 1800,” by Elwin Hofman. Abstract:
This article argues that psychology gained prestige as a useful and practical science in Germany in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Focusing on discussions of the practice of criminal interrogation, the article shows that around 1800, legal scholars increasingly turned to psychology as a solution to practical problems of criminal justice that had arisen with the abolition of judicial torture. Whereas up to the eighteenth century most German legal scholars had found that their own “experience” sufficed to advise on interrogations, around 1800 they started to point out the necessity of psychological knowledge. Psychology hence became not only a field with specialists, journals, and courses but also a field of knowledge that people turned to to solve problems in wholly different areas.