Professor Emeritus James Drever Sr of the University of Edinburgh had been designated President of the congress, and he played an active role in the Organizing Committee, but ill health prevented him from attending the congress. The presidential address, which he had prepared, was presentedby his son and successor as professor of psychology at Edinburgh, James Drever Jr. The General Secretary of the congress was Professor Godfrey Thompson of the University of Edinburgh. Dr Mary Collins of the University of Edinburgh was an assistant secretary and editor of the proceedings. Herbert Langfeld, Secretary-General of the International Committee, paid tribute to the organizers of the congress:
Registration at the congress
The congress attracted 688 registrants. The largest number, 393 (57%), came from Great Britain. Other major representations were from the USA (10%) and France (5%). Belgium, Egypt, the Netherlands, and India and Pakistan (the latter two listed as a single entry) each accounted for about 3% of the members. There were, however, few delegates from Eastern Europe and none from the USSR.
The widespread international attendance, with members from 35 countries, was aided by a fund to assist delegates from countries with economic difficulties to attend. This fund originated with a sum of £823 received from the American Psychological Association, a balance from the Yale Congress of 1929. The APA stipulated that none of the fund was to go to American delegates, and the British similarly restricted it to non-British delegates. Most of the fund was expended to assist delegates, and the remaining £211 was retained, with agreement of the APA, to assist attendance at future congresses. The next congress and several later congresses also allotted funds to aid attendance from countries with financial problems.Program of the congress
The presidential address of James Drever Sr, entitled “Scottish psychology since Hume,” took up the philosophical background of psychology, discussing the work of such eminent Scottish philosophers as David Hume, Thomas Reid, Thomas Brown, and Alexander Bain. In contrast was Herbert Langfeld’s lecture, “Psychology in America today.” Langfeld noted that, “Psychology has come a long way from mental philosophy. In America it is now firmly established among the biological sciences, and, like the other sciences, should look back with sympathy and understanding upon its place of origin” (Langfeld, 1950 , p. 11). Langfeld also commented on the growing importance of social psychology, clinical psychology, assessment, and human engineering. He noted the growing support of industry and of several agencies of the US government for psychological research. In response to the “violent” growth of psychology since the end of the war, the APA has “enlarged into a super-organization principally to meet the needs of the rapidly expanding group of professional psychologists” (Langfeld, 1950 , p. 18); it established its central office in Washington where the Executive Secretary could be in touch with government agencies, and recruited a full-time staff of 10.
The two other major addresses were given by Albert Michotte of Belgium and Sir Frederic Bartlett. Michotte’s presentation consisted of a series of film presentations of phenomena of visual perception with commentaries. These had to do with concepts of the physical world such as maintenance of identity of objects in spite of modifications, continuity of object existence despite discontinuities of their presence, and kinds of actions that objects exert on others. Copies of the film were offered to those interested. Bartlett’s address was entitled “Challenge to experimental psychology.” Bartlett noted that whereas in the past critics challenged the idea of controlled studies of human action and thought, at present many groups were urging psychology to take on various intractable problems. For example, during the war the armed services had set up Personnel Research Committees, and these committees were continued after the end of the war. Even in peacetime, nearly all the main departments of organized human activity were looking for help from psychology. Bartlett urged that in trying to help solve these problems, strict adherence to the standards of experimental psychology must be maintained.
The remainder of the program consisted of discussions of 5 themes and 130 individual papers. The five themes were the following: (1) Prefrontal leucotomy. (2) Tension among groups. (3) Influence of parental unconscious. (4) Psychology in government services. (5) Primary social attitudes. The most frequent topic of communications was psychometrics, with 17% of the papers; other frequent topics were clinical psychology (10%), and general psychology (10%), and personality, social psychology, and sensation and perception, with 9% each (Montoro González, 1982 , pp. 198–199). Except for the main addresses, the papers were published in the proceedings in the form of abstracts of about one page each. Papers were published in English, French, and German.
The small size and tardy appearance of the proceedings reflected post-war conditions in the UK. The 152-page proceedings volume was less than one third of the size of the volumes for the two preceding congresses. The Secretary-General of the congress regretted that the proceedings appeared 2 years after the congress, the delay caused by shortage of paper and lack of skilled printers (Thompson, 1952 , p. 292).Social occasions
On the first evening of the congress, the delegates were welcomed at a reception offered by the university. The next evening there was a party for the congress members. At this time, as Godfrey Thompson stated in his résumé of the congress, the Secretary of State for Scotland, Arthur Woodburn,
Limitations of accommodation perforce restricted the castle dinner to a small number, and to men only. Simultaneously, however, Mrs Godfrey Thompson gave a dinner in Mackie’s Restaurant, Princes Street, to a similar number of wives and women members ...