This article was adapted from Russia National Tour, Velichkovsky, 2008, in Wedding, D., & Stevens, M. J. (Eds.). (2009). Psychology: IUPsyS Global Resource (Edition 2009) [CD-ROM]. International Journal of Psychology, 44(Suppl. 1).Reprinted from Wedding, D., & Stevens, M. J. (Eds.). (2009). Psychology: IUPsyS Global Resource (Edition 2009) [CD-ROM]. International Journal of Psychology, 44(Suppl. 1).
In its history, Russian psychology experienced pronounced highs and lows reflecting the turbulent past of Russia. The first laboratory of experimental psychology was founded in 1886 in Kazan by Vladimir Bekhterev. After this, many laboratories followed - a rapid development which culminated 1914 in the opening of the first Psychological Institute in Moscow. During these first years of research, Russian psychology followed major theoretical and applied trends and was well integrated into the world psychology. After the Socialist Revolution in 1917, the situation changed dramatically. Marxism was proclaimed to be the official ideology in Russia, and psychological theories, like many others, were to be adapted accordingly. Under the condition of strong ideological pressure, several leading Russian psychologists managed to identify some ideas in Marxist philosophy which could be applied constructively to psychology. This gave rise to the major theoretical directions in Soviet psychology, of which the cultural-historical approach by Lev Vygotsky and activity theory by Alexey Leontiev and Sergey Rubi
nstein were most influential in Russia and abroad. During the Soviet period, intensive theoretical and applied research was conducted based on these ideas, leading to many important results which went largely unnoticed by the rest of the world due to relative isolation of Soviet psychologists. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the situation again changed. Methodological pluralism replaced strict adherence to Marxist philosophy. However, during the first years of economic reforms, the science was constantly underfinanced in Russia. The intensity and quality of psychological research fell accordingly. Today, resources are being invested in further development of Russian psychology and it begins to regain it former strength, rapidly incorporating contemporary theoretical and applied approaches.
Research in Russia
The choice of research problems in contemporary Russian psychology is determined by the deep changes taking place in Russian society. The giant leap performed by Russia brings the problems of self-identity and self-determination of active subject to the forefront. Connected to the problem of the active subject is the problem of interpersonal relations. Today there is a deep crisis of the system of interpersonal relationships in Russia. It applies to "vertical" (inter-generation) relationships and "horizontal" (inter-group) relationships as well. The psychologists' task is to react to this crisis and to develop appropriate conceptions of interpersonal relationships. The prospects of Russian psychology imply further usage of the concept of human activity as one of the principal psychological concepts. But the priorities in activity research will change. Subjective-practical side of activity has been studied well enough by now. In the nearest future the main attention of researchers will be paid to motivational-emotional aspect of activity which is the main factor in human development. A special subject matter will be the influence of motivational-emotional sphere on cognitive processes. The important task of Russian psychology for the nearest future will be development of theoretical and practical basis for psychological help. This task emerges because of wide spreading of depression, neuroses and different phobias in Russian population. There is also a growing need for rehabilitation of victims of natural, social and man-caused disasters including terrorist attacks. Fundamental science must lay solid foundation for psychotherapy and psychological counseling. A subject of special importance for Russian psychology is strengthening human ability to overcome difficulties, the search of hidden resources of human adaptation. Another mainstream of Russian psychology is the study of complicated process of knowledge acquisition and the modernization of education. In spite of present day accent on raw materials Russia strives to become hi-tech power actively using and producing knowledge. This aim should be reached not only by means of school education. There will a wide spread psychological support to life-long education. Russian psychology will also focus attention on the study of basic psychological phenomena - consciousness, thinking, speech, etc. - to gain more sound understanding of the human psyche that can be applied to solving practical problems.
Several trends determining the organization of psychological research in Russia in nearest future can be identified. (1) Strengthening of empirical studies. Among Russian psychologists and representatives of financing organizations there is growing awareness of the fact that psychology is mainly an empirical science. In the nearest future, Russian psychology expects large-scale technical re-equipment aimed at strengthening an experimental basis of research. First of all it will include the development of research centers with modern equipment for collecting data (in particular the equipment for 3D brain visualization). (2) Interdisciplinary research. Developing Russian psychology will seek cooperation with allied sciences - neuroscience, genetics, pedagogy, linguistics, etc. Collaboration of representatives of different fields will allow to gain multi-level explanations of complicated psychic processes and to approach the ideal of integral description of the human being. We can appreciate the institutionalization of interdisciplinary research becoming the rule, not exception. (3) Orientation toward research programs. Each year contemporary Russian psychology produces vast body of empirical and theoretical data. It is hard for the analyst to generalize these - sometimes contradictory - data concerning particular psychological problems. Vast numbers of small research projects compete with each other and it leads to dissipation of resources. An important trend in developing Russian psychology is transition to strategic concentration of resources on the solution of most important scientific tasks. For this purpose, large-scale research programs will be employed which comprise methodologically diverse studies focused on the solution of a single scientific problem.
Training and Regulation - current trends
Today, psychological practice in Russia undergoes significant changes. It is no secret that the quality of contemporary psychological service in Russia leaves much to be desired. The causes are rooted in the mass character of psychological profession and the lack of state and public control over the work of psychologists. In Russia, the image of psychologist in public opinion is often associated with disappointment as a result of lack of competence of some professionals. It is necessary to change this situation. For this purpose, Russian Psychological Society is working hard on establishing the System of Certification for practical psychologists.
RPS experts have been working on the System of professional certification for several years. Along with the elements of public regulation the System contains components of state regulation. Coordinating body of the System is the National Institute of professional certification aimed at developing certification principles and monitoring their use by local certificating services. Far-flung network of such regional services is being built today. It is in their competence to grant licenses to particular organizations and experts. National Institute of professional certification is competent in licensing the programs of educational institutions responsible for preparation for certification, as well as licensing the local certificating services and developing standard claims to psychologists of different practical brunches. These branches include psychodiagnostics, psychological counseling, organizational psychology, sport psychology, etc. The development of standard claims is based on appropriate international standards. The certification itself includes 2 stages and consists of computer testing and oral examination with the use of cases. Certification is voluntary but there are agreements with official institutions allowing admission to certain activities only for licensed experts. The System of professional certification should provide for the uniformity of standards and lead to improving of psychological service.
Moral aspects of psychological service will be regulated in the future by the new Ethical code developed by RPS. Ethical code defines appropriate forms of psychologist-client interaction and obliges psychologists not to misuse their job and not to betray client's confidence for unlawful or immoral purposes. Ethical code also obliges psychologists to place emphasis on professional self-improvement. Ethical code of RPS is homogenous with respective codes of national psychological organizations and is made consistent with the Universal Declaration of Ethical Principles approved by IUPsyS in 2008. Application of Ethical code principles to psychological practice heightens the level of responsibility of psychologists and allows improving the culture of psychological service in Russia.
Studying psychology have become trendy among Russian youth. This interest in psychological education is due to fundamental changes in national economics and social life. In Russia psychology is taught in state institutes of higher education as well as in private ones. Financing of state institutes will be significantly improved within the next few years. Modern multimedia technologies including distant learning technologies will be available for students. Now library funds are being renewed, contemporary Russian and foreign textbooks appear. Departments of psychology open new branches of training according to international trends, new faculties are being established. In many institutes the experimental base is being built up, which makes it possible for students to study psychological phenomena and to conduct research of their own.
Wide spread of psychological education rises the problem of monitoring its quality. The system of psychological education in Russia is being standardized now. The standards of psychological education are developed by leading experts and are approved by the Ministry of education and science. In the nearest future it is planed to transit to two-level system of psychological education (baccalaureate and magistracy). It will help to achieve more close integration of Russian psychological education into international educational practice. Developing educational standards anticipate the possibility of such integration. The ultimate aim of this work is the mutual admission of equivalence of diplomas in psychology between Russia and European and North American states.