Changes in Hungarian academic psychology after the end of “people’s democracy”

A new piece in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences will interest AHP readers: “Changes in Hungarian academic psychology after the end of “people’s democracy”,” Csaba Pléh. Abstract:

The paper surveys the last 30 years of Hungarian academic psychology. Around 1989–1990, the time of the great social changes Hungarian psychology was rather Westernized, but still a relatively small scientific field and applied profession. The opening and liberalization of politics made psychology in Hungary a booming profession and a rich research field. Education of psychologists was spreading, and becoming more Westernized in textbook usage and reading materials. Entrance numbers at two universities with 80 students were replaced by 2010 by 6 university programs and about 8000 incoming students. The training system is a Bologna type BA?+?MA?+?PhD system, The educational booming has its own problems. As all university subjects, psychology training is also underfinanced, with high teaching loads and a move by university management towards applied areas, neglecting basic research. The research activity is characterized by a fivefold increase of English language publications coming from Hungary over a 20 years period. University research was strengthened, and competitive grant systems were introduced, whth good success aretes by psychologists. Here again, managerial thinking questions many aspects of basic research and liberalized science management. These factors are peculiar to psychology, but they do have an impact on it. The paper gives some details about one chapter of academic psychology, cognitive psychology. Institutionally, support by the Soros foundation in the 90s for the university cognitive programs had as one consequence that three departments of cognition are active in Budapest today. Another aspect of insitutional development was the series of multidisciplinary conferences in Hungary (MAKOG), and Hungarian involvement in international graduate training programs in cognitive science. The most successful cognitive group, at Central European University (5 ERC grants, publications in leading journals) is recently chased out of Hungary by anti-Western and antiliberal legal moves. This would certainly have a detrimental effect on Hungarian cognitive psychology for quite a time.

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.