Correspondence concerning this article should be sent to: Kan Zhang, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China. (Email: email@example.com)
Psychology in China and the Chinese Psychological Society
Version of Record online: 23 MAY 2007
Japanese Psychological Research
Volume 49, Issue 2, pages 172–177, May 2007
How to Cite
ZHANG, K. (2007), Psychology in China and the Chinese Psychological Society. Japanese Psychological Research, 49: 172–177. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-5884.2007.00344.x
- Issue online: 23 MAY 2007
- Version of Record online: 23 MAY 2007
- (Received January 20, 2007; accepted February 20, 2007)
Dear Professor Oda and Members of the Japanese Psychological Association
First of all, it is my great honor to congratulate you on the 80th anniversary of the Japanese Psychological Association on behalf of the Chinese Psychological Society (CPS) and all psychologists in China. I would sincerely like to thank Professor Oda, the President of the Japanese Psychological Association, for inviting me to such a great ceremony.
I consider this invitation to be a sign of the friendship between Japanese psychologists and the Japanese Psychological Association and the CPS and the entire Chinese nation.
In 2004, the CPS hosted the 28th International Congress of Psychology (ICP) in Beijing, China. This was the second ICP congress in Asia. The Japanese Psychological Association hosted the first in 1972. The ICP finally came back to Asia 32 years after the first conference in Japan and was a remarkable success in China. There were 6262 participants, including scholars, practitioners, and government personnel from 78 countries. Various forms of academic exchanges were conducted on the current topics within psychology and its sub-areas. Sixty-nine world-renowned psychologists made keynote talks, and among them were a Nobel Prize winner and academicians from the academies of several nations. This was the largest international conference that China had ever hosted. The success of this conference contributed a great deal to the development of Chinese psychology. In hosting an international conference, we truly appreciate the Japanese Psychological Association for offering wonderful support and helpful advice. In fact, approximately 580 participants from Japan constituted the largest group at the conference. It was a great honor for us to have such world-renowned psychologists as Professor Masami Oda, Professor Hiroshi Azuma, and Professor Hayao Kawai. I would like to take this opportunity to again express our appreciation to all members of the Japanese Psychological Association.
Back in 2002, Professor Oda invited me to Waseda University with funding from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. While I was there, I had an opportunity to meet Professor Hiroshi Motoaki, who kindly shared his experience at the ICP1972 in Tokyo with me and gave me encouraging comments.
Every psychologist in China knows that the development of modern psychology in China has strong ties with psychology in Japan. In the 19th century, when scientific psychology was in the process of development, Chinese scholars learned a lot under the supervision of Japanese psychologists. Despite a long history of psychology, the history of “scientific psychology” is still short. It is of great interest to know that documentation of psychological characteristics or phenomena among human beings is traced back to 6 BC. In other words, people even then noticed, observed, and analyzed psychological phenomena. Since then, psychological phenomena, characteristics, and processes have been discussed along with the long history of China. These ideas appear to be psychological perspectives rather than psychological science. In 1948, a Japanese psychologist, Ryo Kuroda, published a book titled “History of Psychological Thoughts in China” in Japan, which provided a nice integration of various psychological perspectives that had appeared in Chinese history. This book contains 476 pages that are divided into three sections. The “Ancient Era” Section introduces Zhong Yong, Meng Zi, Zun Zi, Lao Zi, Lie Zi, Zhuang Zi, and Han Fei Zi. The “Middle Age Era” Section summarizes the thoughts of Lv Shi Chun Qiu, Huai Nan Zi, Li Ji, Xun Yue, Liu Shao, Yan Zhi Tui, When Zhong Zi, Han Yu, and Zong Mi. Finally, the “Modern Era” Section lists the thoughts of Qi Gao, Zhou Lian Xi, Er Cheng Zi, Su Dong Po, Zhang Heng Qu, Zhu Zi, Chen Bei Xi, Lu Xian Shan, Wang Ming Yang, and Yan Yuan. This book was probably the first masterpiece that comprehensively argued Chinese thoughts, and people living in modern China still have a lot to learn from the book. This book also motivated Chinese psychologists to pursue studies on psychological thoughts in China from the 1950s to the present.
Psychology, a scientific field developed to explore the very core issues among human beings, originated at Leipzig University in 1879 and has gained attention from scholars all over the world. Psychology also impacted on academic fields in Asia, particularly in Japan, to a great deal. Japan and China have maintained strong ties as neighboring countries for a long time. Nations in these two countries have a long tradition of cultural exchange. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Chinese dynasty called for a major educational reform in which the civil service examination system was dismantled and old academies were reorganized into a new system. In implementing this educational reform, China adapted the Japanese educational model. Academic institutions started to offer courses in psychology. Most of the textbooks used for these psychology courses were translated from Japanese. Books edited by domestic scholars were also based on the contents of psychology books in Japan. In addition, most of the scholars who translated these textbooks had studied in Japan. China also invited Japanese scholars to teach psychology to Chinese scholars. Among them was Professor Unokichi Hattori. Appointed as a professor at the former Beijing Teacher's University, Professor Hattori had important responsibilities, including offering courses in psychology. Born in Nihonmatsu, Fukushimam, Professor Hattori earned his PhD from Tokyo Imperial University and visited Leipzig University and Berlin University to conduct his own research. He also served as the secretary to the Minister of Education. Professor Hattori started working for the Beijing Teacher's University in September of 1902 and helped to chair the Department of Education. Prior to the establishment of the department, Beijing Teacher's University was formally chartered on 17 December of the same year. In this sense, Professor Hattori made a remarkable contribution to Chinese psychology.
I should note a book edited by a Chinese scholar and published in 1905. The editor was Professor Chen Huang who had studied in Japan. The book, entitled “Understanding Psychology”, was equivalent to the recent “Introduction to Psychology.” This book was printed in Tokyo and presented by the “Association of Chinese Students.” Another Chinese psychologist, Zhang Yue Xiang published the first book written in the Chinese language from Jiangsu Normal School. It is considered that, in publishing this book, he re-organized the contents taught by Japanese psychologists. Thus, these two books were published in different places and evoked arguments about the uniqueness of these books. However, there is one consistent perspective on this issue, that is, books used at the beginning of modern scientific psychology in China were originally from Japan.
Japanese psychology has had a large impact on Chinese psychology, and this is shown by three Chinese characters “” meaning psychology. The usage of “” actually originated from Japan. In 1889, a Chinese psychologist Yan Young Jing translated a book titled “Mental Philosophy: Including the intellect, sensibilities and will” written by an American scholar, Dr Haven. Yan's translation of the book was . In those days, the word psychology was not frequently used, mental philosophy actually meant psychology. A Japanese psychologist, Amane Nishi, translated the same book into Japanese and titled it in 1875, 14 years before Yan Young Jing's translation. Born in Shimane in 1829, Professor Nishi was a great philosopher and in publishing a book titled “”, Professor Nishi led public awareness toward psychology. Professor Nishi established the first psychology “” department in areas where Chinese characters have been used. After 1896, intellectual exchanges between China and Japan accelerated with the Hundred Days’ Reform. The title of psychology “” crossed the ocean from Japan to China. In particular, the most prominent revolutionist leader and philosopher Kang You Wei and Liang Qi Chao emphasized the importance of translation of Japanese books. translated by Professor Kang You Wei included 25 books in psychology. Liang Qi Chan visited Japan and published a paper in which he discussed differences between philosophy and psychology and proposed to translate “psychology” into as it was named in Japanese language. He explicitly stated that “Japanese scholars translated psychology into shinri-gaku (expressed as ) and philosophy into tetsu-gaku (expressed as ) and made clear distinctions between these two disciplines. Although we do not need to blindly follow what the Japanese did, I must admit excellence in their translation of these two disciplines. After extensive discussions, Chinese scholars in those days finally decided to use as a translation of psychology. Looking back on this process, I am delighted to find a long history of intellectual exchange between Japan and China and the impacts of Japanese academics on psychology and Chinese academia.
I must say that psychology in China has experienced various difficulties throughout its history. China established the first department of psychology at Nanjing Advanced Normal College in 1920. The department offered a wide range of courses, including experimental psychology, comparative psychology, child psychology, abnormal psychology, social psychology, physiological psychology, methodology, religious psychology, art psychology, and systematic psychology. It was followed by a Psychology Department at Beijing University and Qinghua University. In 1929, Central University (the current Nanjing University) also began a psychology department. The Institute of Psychology was established at the Academic Sinica in 1928. However, a lack of understanding about psychology, and a war, damaged psychology. In 1978, the Institute of Psychology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences remained the only research institute in psychology. In late 1978, Beijing University re-established a Department of Psychology, which was the only psychology department at that time.
Since then, recognized as a very important discipline by the Chinese society and government, psychology in China has expanded markedly. To date, there have existed approximately 150 psychology departments and institutes at Chinese universities. Many other universities are planning to open psychology departments. There are approximately 130 master's programs and 30 doctoral programs. Student enrollment in these programs includes approximately 10 000 undergraduates and 2000 master's level and 300 doctoral level graduate students. The Chinese government has established counseling centers at all universities, and employed teachers of psychology or psychological counselors at every elementary and middle school. The government also intends to open psychology clinics at general hospitals. Although the approximate number of psychologists has reached 20 000 to date, this number does not meet the society's demands.
The CPS has played a very important role in expanding psychology as a scientific discipline in China. The CPS was founded in Nanjing, the old capital of China, as the China Psychological Society. Two hundred and thirty-five individuals joined as initial members of the association. A journal, Psychology, was first published in January 1922. The majority of initial members came back from Western countries on completion of their program studies. Local associations were founded in each province and rapidly became involved in advocacy for psychological science. After academic activities were interrupted by the war, the CPS reassembled in August 1955, when the first council meeting was held. Approximately 70 representatives attended the meeting.
Activities were suspended during the war and during the Cultural Revolution Period for 85 years after the CPS had been founded. Aside from these periods, however, the CPS actively encouraged psychological research and training and the application of psychology nationwide. Currently, there are more than 6000 members of the CPS. To be a member, one must have at least a master's degree in psychology or relevant research experience in psychology. In 2001, I was elected as the 8th president of the CPS and I was re-elected again in 2005. This current appointment will be my last term. The by-laws of the CPS and China state that the term of the president lasts for 4 years and allow one to be re-elected. However, one cannot be appointed for more than two consecutive periods (i.e., 8 years). Being invited to the 80th anniversary of the Japanese Psychological Association during my term will be a memory that I will never forget in my entire life.
The CPS aims to be an academic association that yields a great deal of public benefit and advances scientific psychology. The CPS is a member of the China Association of Science and Technology, which is an umbrella organization of 120 academic associations, and is also a member of the International Council for Science (ICSU). The CPS is also an affiliate of the International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS) which is a member of ICSU. Thus, the CPS is involved in programs and activities of ICSU through two channels.
All decisions at the CPS are mandated to the national assembly of representatives, which is called in every 4 years. When we are unable to assemble the meeting, we make decisions through letters with permission from the China Association of Science and Technology. The regular operation of the association is entrusted to the council. The 9th council started in 2005 and serves for 4 years. Consisting of 86 members, the council is representative of the sub-areas and 31 province associations of Chinese psychology. Election of the council members involves a very detailed process. Each election is held in October of the year before the National Assembly. The current council members were elected in 2004. The CPS, then, call in both national executive members and presidents of local associations to hold a collaborative meeting where they discuss the selection of standing committee members of the association. The most important agenda involves the election of candidates for standing committee members, the methods of distance election, and the apportionment of standing members. The ninth council apportioned one representative member per five members for the representative of distance election. Candidates are nominated based on the number apportioned for each province in China and divisions of the CPS. This process brings approximately 150 candidates of standing committee members. The administrative office puts the information of the candidates together and sends them to the director of distance election. Eighty-six candidates were elected through a distance election. After being returned to the office, ballots are counted in a democratic and transparent way. The final selection of the candidates is based on the voting number and other regulations, such as the number of executive committee per local area. The final decision is made after passing the standing committee members. The results are sent to the China Association of Science and Technology for approval. In October, an election is held at the national congress every year. After new standing committee members are elected, a new council is formed. Right after this, council members elect 29 standing committee members including one president, five vice presidents, and one general secretary. The association also appoints several deputy general secretaries. The president, vice presidents, and the general secretary are nominated through voting after discussions at a special meeting among standing committee members. The CPS is obligated to report the decisions to the China Association of Science and Technology and needs approval to hold a new council meeting. Finally, the CPS is required to report their decisions to the China Association of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Welfare of China.
The CPS consists of 14 division committees and six working committees. The 14 divisions include the following: general and experimental psychology, educational psychology, developmental psychology, theory and history of psychology, industrial psychology, sports and exercise psychology, physiological psychology, school psychology, forensic psychology, psychometrics, social psychology, military psychology, counseling and psychotherapy, and personality psychology.
Every CPS member belongs to one of these divisions and each division conducts various types of academic activities and programs. In this sense, the divisions are the most fundamental and important organizations of the CPS. Each division is composed of approximately 20 committee members who are recruited every 4 years. Each division has one chair and three to four vice chairs.
The CPS also has project committees: academic affairs, international affairs, teaching psychology, public relations, graduate students, and fellows (equivalent to Emeritus members of the Japanese Psychological Association).
The CPS has appointed 11 fellows since 2004. Two members are outside of China: Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize winner at Princeton University and Professor Kurt Pawlik at Humboldt University in Germany, the past president of IUPsyS and the past president of the International Council of Social Sciences, respectively.
The CPS publishes “Acta Psychologica Sinica” and “Psychological Science.” It is a great honor for Chinese psychologists to get their papers published in these journals. The chief editor and editorial committee members are appointed by the CPS. With regard to local associations, there are 31 local associations. To be a member of these local associations, one must have a bachelor's degree in psychology or a related field. Many CPS members are also affiliated with their local associations and take leadership roles. The number of members in state-level associations is approximately 20 000. There are also city-level associations in large cities, such as at Wuxi City, Jiangsu Province. According to Chinese regulations, the CPS is required to be an advisory organization for these state- or city-wide associations.
Academic associations in China are considered to be independent private organizations. Administrative offices of these organizations are usually understaffed, most of which are housed at academic organizations and/or research institutes. The CPS is located at the Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. The research institute offers office space and administrative services, such as management of financial matter, computer servers, and web sites. These are institutions that directors or vice directors of academic divisions of CPS are affiliated with. The appointment of directors of the secretariat needs to be approved through voting by council members. Vice directors are directly appointed but need to be approved by the executive committee of the divisions. Working committees also house their offices at their own research institutes because of convenience. The CPS is a private organization and is responsible for its financial management. The operation of divisional activities requires approval from the China Association of Science and Technology and needs to be reported to the Ministry of Welfare of China.
The sponsorship of the CPS national convention is a major program, which has greatly contributed to the advancement of psychology. Since 1978, the CPS has hosted national conferences every 4 years. In 2005, East China Normal University hosted a national conference where 1200 presentations were accepted and 1500 members participated. The CPS has decided to hold national conferences every other year as of 2007 because of the great demand for opportunities to present academic work by members. The 2007 conference will be hosted by Henan University, at Kaifeng City, Henan Province. Kaifeng City was the capital of six dynasties in ancient China and has a long history. We plan to invite speakers from outside countries and we expect that the 2007 conference will be a milestone event in the history of psychology in China. We look forward to welcoming a number of Japanese participants.
Another important activity of the CPS is to facilitate international exchange on behalf of the psychology communities of China. The CPS became the 44th member of IUPsyS in 1980. Within the circle of IUPsyS, Chinese psychologists have maintained constructive relationships with scholars from other countries. In particular, we have had a long-term collaborative relationship with the Japanese Psychological Association. After our activities were highly recognized by IUPsyS, the CPS has been elected as an executive member every term since 1984. Members from the CPS were elected as the vice president in 1992 and 2000. To facilitate such international exchange continuously, we encourage scholars in their early career to participate in international conferences. In 2006, we selected 20 distinguished young psychologists and funded travel grants to support their participation in the International Congress of Applied Psychology. The CPS plans to send psychologists in their early career to the International Congress of Psychology in Germany in 2008. The future development of the CPS will be integrated with a new trend in international communities of psychology.
Japan is a neighbor of China and the only advanced industrial country in East Asia. There are a sufficient number of excellent psychologists in Japan. Psychologists in Japan and China have established collaborative relationships at both individual and organizational levels. We appreciate the influence of Japanese psychology on the development of Chinese psychology. In particular, Chinese psychologists who have studied in Japan brought back Morita Therapy and Sand Therapy, which have been gaining popularity in current China.
To date, the Japanese Psychological Association and the CPS have 80 years of history in each country. Although 80 years is considered old for human beings, it is just the beginning for academic associations. I hope members of the Japanese Psychological Association and the CPS and all the psychologists in both countries construct further collaborative relationships and make significant contributions to the development of both societies in a harmonious way. I believe in it and would like you to work together to achieve our common goals. Thank you very much for your attention.