May Issue of History of Psychology: Temperament, Psychical Research, and More

The May 2018 issue of History of Psychology is now online. Full titles, authors, and abstracts below.

“Temperamental workers: Psychology, business, and the Humm-Wadsworth Temperament Scale in interwar America,” by Kira Lussier. Abstract:

This article traces the history of a popular interwar psychological test, the Humm-Wadsworth Temperament Scale (HWTS), from its development in the early 1930s to its adoption by corporate personnel departments. In popular articles, trade magazines, and academic journals, industrial psychologist Doncaster Humm and personnel manager Guy Wadsworth trumpeted their scale as a scientific measure of temperament that could ensure efficient hiring practices and harmonious labor relations by screening out “problem employees” and screening for temperamentally “normal” workers. This article demonstrates how concerns about the epistemological and scientific credibility of the HWTS were intimately entangled with concerns about its value to business at every step in the test’s development. The HWTS sought to measure the emotional and social dimensions of an individual’s personality so as to assess their suitability for work. The practice of temperament testing conjured a vision of the subject whose emotional and social disposition was foundational to their own capacity to find employment, and whose capacity to appropriately express, but regulate, their emotions was foundational to corporate order. The history of the HWTS offers an instructive case of how psychological tests embed social hierarchies, political claims, and economic ideals within their very theoretical and methodological foundations. Although the HWTS itself may have faded from use, the test directly inspired creators of subsequent popular personality tests, such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

“Pierre Janet and the enchanted boundary of psychical research,” by Renaud Evrard, Erika Annabelle Pratte, and Etzel Cardeña. Abstract:

Among the founders of French psychology, Pierre Janet (1859–1947) is recognized for both his scientific and institutional roles. The psychology born at the turn of the 20th century was initially partly receptive to, but then engaged in, a battle with the “psychical marvelous,” and Janet was no exception. He was involved in the split between psychology and parapsychology (or “metapsychics” in France), developed at that time, playing several successive roles: the pioneer, the repentant, and the gatekeeper. At first, he was involved in so-called experimental parapsychology, but quickly chose not to engage directly in this kind of research any longer. Janet seemed to become embarrassed by his reputation as psychical researcher, so he increased his efforts to side with the more conventional thought of his time. Janet’s attitude, in this, is an example of how French nascent psychology has explored “marvelous phenomena” before recanting. Yet this aspect of Janet’s work has been rarely commented on by his followers. In this article, we describe the highlights of his epistemological journey.

“Pluralism and heterogeneity as criticism: Undergraduate history and systems of psychology courses in Argentinian psychology education (1983–2017),” by Catriel Fierro. Abstract:

Multiple studies have analyzed the aims, resources, and approaches to undergraduate and graduate history of psychology education in several countries. Argentina is one of the countries with the highest historiographical production in Latin America. However, to date, there are no published studies on the collective debates among professionals, institutions, and associations that were instrumental in the development of the historiography of science becoming a mandatory part of the curriculum in Argentinian psychology programs. This study describes and analyzes the role of undergraduate history of psychology courses in official debates that took place during the last 30 years regarding Argentinian psychologists’ training and education, in the context of regional and international historiography. Data was retrieved from several primary sources, such as minutes and official dossiers, working documents on accreditation standards, and nationwide curricular diagnoses on undergraduate psychology education, as well as individual scholars’ ideas. Our findings suggest that, in line with regional and international historiography, history of psychology courses in Argentina have repeatedly been considered as core content in debates and discussions about psychology education, from the restoration of democracy in 1983 to the present day, in which they are currently considered to be mandatory minimum curricular content. Although throughout its history Argentinian psychology has largely been reduced to the teaching of Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis, historical education has been perceived as a gateway toward a more plural and critical local psychology. We conclude by discussing some potential and actual concerns that pose a threat to Argentinian undergraduate history courses.

“The (ab)normal-social-personality catena: Exploring The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology during the interwar years,” by Ian J. Davidson. Abstract:

This article is a cocitation network analysis of The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology (JASP) from 1925 to 1942. The analysis was conducted to help shed light on the historical roots of the intellectual and institutional relationships among social, personality, and abnormal psychology. JASP was a main venue for the boundary work of early- to mid-twentieth-century American psychologists. One of the main goals of these various research communities was to appropriate psychoanalytic and sociological concepts into preferred methods and approaches that favored an individualistic, quantifiable, and ultimately normal subject. Five major research communities are identified using the citations, and historically contextualized: Community #1, Measuring Social Aspects; Community #2, Psychometrics; Community #3, Operationalizing Psychoanalysis; Community #4, Introversion Studies; and Community #5, Experimental Social Psychology. This analysis demonstrates how disciplinary psychologists, at least within JASP, were united by the work of delimiting their research from closely aligned fields studying the same concepts—even while psychologists’ methodological commitments to experimentalism or psychological testing might have ostensibly divided them. Possible future research incorporating post-World War II research and dynamic networking approaches is recommended.

“Poetry corner,” by Eric P. Charles. Abstract:

Presents a piece of poetry by A. A. Milne who is now best known as the author of the Winnie the Pooh (1926) book but was quite well reputed before its publication for his plays and his poetry, including collections such as When We Were Very Young (1924). The style of “Veridical Perception” will be familiar to any who have read his work.

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About Jacy Young

Jacy Young recently completed a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Surrey in the UK. She earned her doctorate in the History and Theory of Psychology at York University in 2014.

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