Shaping of scientific psychology in Japan

Tadasu Oyama, Tatsuya Sato, Yuko Suzuki
Published Online:
21 Sep 2010
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 36 Issue 6

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Japanese scientific psychology began with Y. Motora's lecture on pyschophysics at the University of Tokyo in 1888. He had just received his PhD under G.S. Hall at Johns Hopkins University, in the USA. He became the first professor of psychology in 1890 and founded the first psychological laboratory at the University of Tokyo in 1903. He studied many psychological problems, including attention, experimentally and theoretically. One of his first students, Matataro Matsumoto, founded the second psychological laboratory at Kyoto University and then succeeded to Motora's position in Tokyo. Matsumoto was interested in experimental studies of human performance and their applications. He trained many able psychologists and organized the Japanese Psychological Association in 1927. Some of his students founded more psychological laboratories in major universities of Japan. They introduced psychological tests, Gestalt psychology, and behaviourism in the 1920s and 1930s. Psychoanalysis was introduced through mainly nonacademic roots and became familiar to Japanese psychologists in the 1930s. After World War II, a strong influence of American psychology came to Japanese psychologists who had already trained in scientific methodology. The areas of research and applications have been greatly widened and the number of psychologists has increased rapidly up to the present day. Promotion of international interactions and indigenous traditions are both expected.

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