21 Community Psychology

History of Psychology

  1. James H. Dalton PhD1,
  2. Jean Hill PhD2,
  3. Elizabeth Thomas PhD3,
  4. Bret Kloos PhD4

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop201023

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Dalton, J. H., Hill, J., Thomas, E. and Kloos, B. 2012. Community Psychology . Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 1:21.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Bloomsburg University, Department of Psychology, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, USA

  2. 2

    New Mexico Highlands University, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Las Vegas, New Mexico, USA

  3. 3

    University of Washington at Bothell, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Program, Bothell, Washington, USA

  4. 4

    University of South Carolina, Department of Psychology, Columbia, South Carolina, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


Community psychology is concerned with the many ways that individual lives and well-being are inextricably interwoven with social systems and collective well-being. In this chapter, we explore, in historical perspective, how community psychologists engage in research and action in multiple levels of communities. We review the early development of the field in the United States and internationally, before and after the Swampscott conference in 1965. We define and discuss conceptual frameworks influential in community psychology historically and today: (a) levels of analysis for understanding persons in social contexts, and how persons and contexts influence each other; (b) ecological concepts for understanding social environments and systems; (c) concepts and dimensions of human and cultural diversity; and (d) community psychology thinking concerning multiple levels of empowerment in communities. We discuss, in historical perspective, the distinctive, collaborative forms of community psychology research, including participatory action research and related methods, and elaborate how research and practice are interdependent in community psychology. We consider issues of social justice, citizen participation, prevention, wellness and resilience in communities, the global development of the field, rising interest in community psychology practice, and trends in education in community psychology.


  • community psychology;
  • participatory action research;
  • empowerment;
  • prevention;
  • human diversity