Some Views on Soviet Psychology

Some Views on Soviet Psychology

Some Views on Soviet Psychology

Some Views on Soviet Psychology

Excerpt

This volume is based on visits made to the Soviet Union by a number of American psychologists in the summer of 1960. The Human Ecology Fund furnished funds for most of these trips.

American psychologists have always maintained a lively interest in the work of their Soviet opposite numbers even during years when communications between the two countries were not as good as they now are. Since World War II, work in Soviet psychology has been surveyed at various times by Ivan London, Gregory Razran, and myself. More recently, Alexander Mintz has contributed reviews of Soviet psychological work at periodic intervals to the Annual Review of Psychology. When visiting between our countries became easier after 1956, a number of individual psychologists took the opportunity to travel back and forth. For example, Yvonne Brackbill, represented in this volume, has already reported on an earlier trip.

It was felt that, particularly with many American psychologists planning to attend the International Congress in Bonn during August of 1960, the time was propitious for a more extended group of visits with the explicit backing of the American Psychological Association. The intended merits of this procedure were dual. By having a considerable group of well-known American psychologists visit Soviet psychologists as individuals under the auspices of our professional association, it was hoped to improve communications further between psychologists of the two countries. In addition, and perhaps more directly to the point, a number of competent psychologists varying in their fields of interest would be in a position to report back to their American colleagues on the full range of work being done by our Soviet colleagues.

There is a special advantage to on-site visits by professionals competent in specific areas, and I am perhaps in a position to speak especially frankly of these advantages, having felt most strongly the disadvantage of their absence. When I wrote The New Man in Soviet Psychology about a decade ago, it was under the dual handicap of being restricted almost entirely to published sources and having to deal with areas of psychology which were outside my primary area of competence. Evaluation and understanding of what is being done is difficult under these circumstances. Even the translation of terms may suffer. Readers of translations of Soviet work must on many occasions wonder what a "Pavlovian approach" and other similar phrases mean in the specific contexts in which they appear. The con-

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