Psychology and the Developing World

Psychology and the Developing World

Psychology and the Developing World

Psychology and the Developing World


Previous leading commentators on the development of psychology in the Third World have conceived of three major stages: an attempt to assimilate Western psychology, with predictably negative results; the study of indigenous constructs, with more relevant applications; and, finally, transcending stage one and stage two to choose theories and methods on their applied merit alone. Psychology and the Developing World has been assembled to document how close psychology has come to researching that stage. Contributors were carefully selected to provide a unique overview of the latest applications of the discipline as a whole. Their work reveals how psychology is being applied to educational needs, management needs, and health needs. This book shows how development studies and allied disciplines cannot ignore psychology's potential for the Third World.


Stuart C. Carr

It is now over a decade since the publication of Sinha and Holtzman (1984) edited volume assessing the role of psychology in developing countries. With two exceptions (Durojaiye, 1984; Kagitçibasi, 1984), the contributions in that collection indicated that psychology was having very little real impact (e.g., Melikian, 1984), and even implied that it was having a negative influence (e.g., Mehryar, 1984). Such suggestions, however, were based on a literature that was speculative rather than empirical (Sloan, 1990). This book was assembled primarily to record how psychology might have moved on from the rhetorical question, have we anything to offer to the developing world? (Jahoda, 1983). As such, the book extends the excellent sample of work to be found in Sloan and Montero (1990).

There is scope for new perspectives on "development." the gap between "developed" and "developing" countries certainly appears to be widening rather than closing. in economic terms, more than 80 percent of the world's material wealth is going to just 20 percent of the world's population, and many Third World countries are sinking further into international debt (Grant, 1995). in human terms, more than 100 million people in Africa do not have enough to eat, and the problem is reportedly worsening (Aroni, 1995). Several of the contributors in this volume present some sobering statistics with regard to the effectiveness of international aid (see also, World Bank, 1995). Overall, therefore, it can be seen that national development is just not happening in many parts of the "developing" world.

At the same time, however, the present era could not be a more difficult juncture for any discipline to be attempting to convince the developing world that it has something new to contribute. the postmodernist debate (which has of course been unfolding within psychology itself) has been vigorously deconstructing the very concepts of "aid" and "development." in this climate of questioning the very idea that . . .

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