Japanese Psychology in Times of Rapid Political Change.

(The International Society for the History of Social and Behavioral Sciences 34th Annual Meeting, Workshop.)

Miki Takasuna (Tokyo International University) and Tatsuya Sato (Ritsumeikan University), satot@lt.ritsumei.ac.jp

In Japan, the process of rapid change in society occurred during the 70
years between 1868 to 1945. What role did psychology play in this process
of westernization, modernization and ultra-nationalism?
Psychology contributed to the scientific understanding of children during
the modernization of the education system. Binet-type mental tests had to
be adapted and refined in Japan by professional psychologists. Intelligence tests were
also used in non-educational settings, such as industry or the military.
Some psychologists helped introduce Taylorism. The promotion of industrial
efficiency was offered by psychologists to capitalists/managers who
couldn't otherwise make their employees work harder. In the early Showa
era, when nationalism prevailed, intelligence tests were used to
demonstrate the ethnic superiority of the Japanese as well as to identify
able soldiers.
While psychologists weren't concerned with important policy decisions, it
nonetheless seems that they weren't critical of policies during that period.