This article is adapted from "Sweden National Tour" prepared by O. Salling, 2008, which appeared in Wedding, D., & Stevens, M. J. (Eds). (2009). Psychology: IUPsyS Global Resource (Edition 2009) [CD-ROM]. International Journal of Psychology, 44 (Suppl. 1).
Psychological research in Sweden has its domestic roots in physiology and education at the beginning of this century. In the late 1930s and early 1940s psychological research started to emerge as a domain of its own, primarily through work on test development. The first department of psychology in Sweden was created at Uppsala in 1948 by splitting the department of education into two parts. Departments of psychology came about in the same way soon after at Stockholm, Lund, and Göteborg. The latest departmental formation for psychology was done at Umeå University in 1966. Teaching in psychology at the undergraduate and graduate levels is offered at seven universities. An integrated training program leading up to the profession as a psychologist is also given at each of these universities. The universities are the five mentioned above and also, since 1995, Linköping University, and Orebro University, since 2002. The Karolinska Institute in Stockholm offers courses in psychology at the graduate level. Technical psychology is taught at the technical university in Luleå and courses in economic psychology are given at the Stockholm School of Economics. Formerly there was only one professorship of psychology at each department. Nowadays there are several professorships at each department in specialized areas of psychology. In 2002 there are close to one hundred professors holding positions in psychology or fields of psychology at universities in Sweden.
Research and Education
Departments of psychology at all universities in Sweden have developed strong traditions in experimental psychology, first in perception, psychophysics, and physiological psychology, subsequently also in cognitive psychology and personality. Over the years each department has developed its own characteristic research profile. The department at Lund University has specialized in personality and clinical psychology. At Göteborg University, there are main foci on biological psychology, industrial psychology, and cognitive psychology with main emphasis on problem solving and communication. Psychological research at Stockholm University is focusing on personality and social development, biological psychology, work and organizational psychology, perception and psychophysics, clinical psychology, and cognitive psychology with special emphasis on memory, neuropsychology, neuroscience, information processing and decision making. Uppsala University has a long-standing tradition in perception and traffic safety, with recent additions in decision making at the Department. There is also a strong dominance on health psychology and clinical psychology. Umeå University's Psychology Department has ongoing projects on perception, cognition, and psychotherapy. At Linköping University, there is no psychology department but research is carried out at the Department of Behavioural Science and different centres. The main emphasis is on cognition, communication, development, and disability as well as field research on organizations and groups. At Orebro University, the Social Sciences Department has their main focus on developmental research. At the Karolinska Institute, there are several psychological research groups, the best known at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience.
Psychological research is also conducted at a number of agencies outside the universities, e.g., The Swedish National Defence College, The Swedish Road Research Institute, and the National Institute for Working Life.
Some Swedish researchers are among the leading contributors to their scientific fields. The scientific community has often recognized this fact nationally and internationally. At the national scene, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences included psychology as a national committee in 1985. Internationally, Swedish psychologists have been asked to serve on editorial boards of leading journals, and some have been given prestigious prizes and have been elected into influential academies and organizations. Recently, two international evaluations acknowledged that high quality research in cognitive psychology and biological psychology is being conducted in Sweden.
The number of psychologists in Sweden has been growing rapidly and is now well above seven thousand. The largest fields for professional psychologists in Sweden are clinical psychology, educational psychology, organizational, and industrial psychology, and neuropsychology.
Since 1978 there is state certification of psychologists in Sweden. There is also certification of psychotherapists, since 1985, with about 65 percent of these being psychologists.
The Swedish university training program for psychologists aims at providing a general psychological competence, and is built upon the Practitioner/Scientist (Boulder) Model. Specialist competence, e.g., as a clinical psychologist, work and occupational psychologist; educational psychologist, neuropsychologist, and handicap psychologist can be acquired after the university training program has been completed.
The psychology profession has developed rapidly in Sweden. As in many other countries, early psychologists in Sweden were specialists in testing and diagnosis, whereas now the field of work is much broader with practitioners in many areas like psychotherapy, school psychology, organizational and industrial psychology.
A formal code of ethics that is common for psychologists in all Nordic Countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) was established in the early 1980s and revised in 1998.
PsykologTidningen, 1955- , 21/year
Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 1960- , 4/year
Updated June 2008