Soviet and American Psychology during World War II

Soviet and American Psychology during World War II

Soviet and American Psychology during World War II

Soviet and American Psychology during World War II


This book compares the influence of the period leading up to World War II and of the war itself on the discipline of psychology in two major, but very different countries. During the 1930s, Soviet psychologists were formally isolated from developments in Western psychology by the ideological requirements of the Communist Party; in the United States, a vast variety of topics was being researched. When the war began, the discipline in the Soviet Union turned increasingly toward specialized topics, such as the rehabilitation of the wounded, ways to improve morale, and the psychological basis of color-camouflage. American psychologists, on the other hand, applied their psychometric and clinical skills to military needs. With the coming of glasnost, American and Russian psychologists were able to collaborate to create the first thorough examinations of the state of wartime psychology in these countries. Of interest to all students and researchers of the history of psychology, psychological theory, andthe history of World War II.


I (Albert) first became fully aware of the impact of the Second World War on American psychology when doing the research for American Psychology since World War II: A Profile of the Discipline (1982). It became clear to me that both the activities of American psychologists during the conflict and the war itself profoundly influenced the discipline. I was surprised to find no detailed analyses of wartime American psychology nor any books focused on post-World War II psychology.

Later, when we (Carol and I) coedited the International Handbook of Psychology (1987), the importance not only of major twentieth-century wars, but of societal events in general relative to the history of psychology was affirmed. To use the jargon of historians, we became "externalists," embracing the position that the course of psychology is in large measure a function of events taking place outside the discipline. These events include economic, political, and social trends as well as developments in other fields of study and technological advances.

The present project was made possible by the policy of openness (glasnost) in the Soviet Union, availability of e-mail and faxes, participation in conferences on the history of psychology in Moscow, access to unpublished materials in the Archives of the Institute of Psychology, Russian Academy of Sciences, and a mutual interest on our part and that of Vera Koltsova and Yuri Oleinik in comparing the activities of Russian and American psychologists during World War II. Before December 1991, when the Soviet period of Russian history ended, carrying on the dialogue and collaboration that led to this book would have been much more difficult. This revolutionary event also enabled us to work concurrently on an edited volume Post-Soviet Perspectives on Russian Psychology, published in 1996.

The primary rationale for our undertaking was to examine the influence of full-scale modern warfare on the discipline in two major, but very different countries. The USSR had a totalitarian and socialist form of government and was . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.