Psychology has a long history in China. Writings describing issues of human psychology exist from as far back as two thousand years ago. Early in the 20th  Century, a group of Chinese students who had studied in the West introduced modern psychological science to China. In the years surrounding 1920, three important events promoted the growth of psychological science in China. The first was in 1917, when Peking University established China's first psychological laboratory. Then, in 1920, the Nanjing Higher Normal College established China's first department of psychology. The third event was the 1921 establishment of the Chinese Psychological Society (CPS), which in 1922 began publishing the academic journal, "Psychology" (Xinli). During this period, Chinese psychologists were emerging at the forefront of research in the field. This included renowned scientists like Z. Y. Kuo (1898-1970), who did research on instinct and heredity in animals, Wei Ai (1890-1970), with his work on educational and experimental psychology, C. W. Luh (1894-1970), with his research on memory, Li Chen (1902- ) with his research in industrial psychology, and S. K. Chou (1903-1996) with his research on the recognition of Chinese characters.

Some famous scholars with backgrounds in psychology made great contributions to China's social development and technological progress. For example, Yuanpei Cai (1868-1940), who had studied psychology in Germany under Wilhelm Wundt, later served as Minister of Education. He was also the first President of Peking University, and was responsible for introducing ideas of democratic reform to China. In 1929, as President of Academia Sinica, he established the Institute of Psychology. By the end of the 1920's, some ten psychology departments had been established in China's institutes of higher learning. 1931 saw the establishment of the Chinese Testing Society and the Chinese Psychoanalytic Society. During the Sino-Japanese War (1937-45) and the Second World War (1941-45), extreme circumstances forced China to close some psychology departments and institutes, and CPS stopped functioning. However, some psychologists persisted in their research and teaching even during the war.

The People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, and in 1950 CPS resumed operation after a break of 13 years. In 1956, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), established the Institute of Psychology, one of the largest psychological research institutes in China. The First National Psychology Conference was held in 1955. Also in the 1950's, three psychology periodicals were published: Acta Psychologica Sinica, Psychological Information and Psychological Translations. For a time, Pavlov's theory of conditioned reflex was the main theoretical trend in Chinese psychology. From 1956-66, Chinese psychologists carried out a great deal of theoretical and applied research related to China's social, economic and cultural development. Basic research was done on the neuro- biological basis of learning and memory, cognitive development of children, and children's ability to solve mathematical problems. Applied research in the fields of education, industry, and medicine included "quick comprehensive therapy for neurasthenia", color light signals for the railway system, and lighting standards in schools. In 1960, CPS held the Second National Psychology Conference, at which plans for the future development of psychological research were laid out. The numbers of students majoring in psychology continued to grow.

In 1976, the study of psychology in China entered a period of rapid development. Thanks to the policies and economic support of the Education Commission, CAS, and the China Natural Science Foundation, some fifteen institutes of higher learning have established psychology departments or research laboratories. These include Beijing University, Beijing Normal University, Capital Normal University, Beijing Education College, Tianjin Normal University, Hangzhou University, Northeast Normal University, East China Normal University, South China Normal University, Central China Normal University, Southwest Normal University, Shaanxi Normal University, Nanjing Normal University, Shandong Normal University, and Wuhan Physical Education College. To date, several thousand undergraduates have majored in psychology. In 1978, CAS and some of the above institutes established 30 masters and 12 doctoral programs. They have conferred several hundred graduate degrees. CAS has established a correspondence university in psychology open to people all over the country, with an enrollment of thousands of students every year. At present, almost all Chinese universities offer courses related to psychology. In 1980, CPS joined the International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS), indicating the beginning of a new era in the exchange between Chinese psychologists and psychology circles of other countries. Since 1979, large numbers of scholars and students from mainland China were sent to the West for study or research. China's psychological research team has been growing rapidly over the last ten years, and is beginning to take its place in international psychology. Former President (1984-88) of CPS and current member of its executive committee, Jing Qicheng, served on the Executive Committee of IUPsyS (1984-92) and then as Vice-President of the organization (1992-1996).

At present, CPS is under the jurisdiction of the Chinese Association for Science and Technology (CAST), which also funds some CPS activities. CPS has 4,200 members, all of whom are involved in work related to psychology, hold masters or doctoral degrees in psychology, or hold positions as educators or researchers in psychology. Including members of other related organizations -- The Chinese Association of Social Psychology (CASP), the Chinese Ergonomics Society (CES), the Chinese Human-Machine-Environment Association (CHMEA), and the Chinese Association of Mental Health (CAMH) -- China now has over 10,000 psychologists working in research institutes, education, medicine, and other fields. The basic and applied research of Chinese psychology involves the fields of theoretical psychology, cognition, perception, learning, ergonomics, industrial psychology, comparative psychology, biological psychology, medical psychology, and social psychology. The Chinese government recognizes the importance of psychology in China's social development. In a recent government document regarding the development of science in the next century, psychology was listed as one of six disciplines to receive priority in terms of funding. With the development of China's economy, the study of psychology is becoming increasingly important.

Every four years, CPS holds a national conference (with 300-400 attendees). The various sub-committees under CPS also generally hold annual conferences. In the past ten years, four relatively large-scale international psychology conferences were held in China: the Satellite Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development (ISSBD) held in Beijing in 1987; the 2nd Afro-Asian Psychological Conference, held in Beijing in 1992; an ISSBD Symposium, held in Beijing in 1994; and the Asian Pacific Regional Conference of Psychology, held in Guangzhou in 1995. Each meeting was attended by between 200 and 400 participants. These meetings provided CPS and Chinese psychologists with invaluable experience in hosting international psychology conferences. We believe that with the support of IUPsyS and other international organizations, CPS is well-prepared to host the 28th International Congress of Psychology in 2004.
 
     

2002 ©  Copyright  by  Chinese  Psychological  Society