The modern-day psychology

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The present psychology practice in Germany is the result of years of modification, tinkering, changes, and refinement caused by historical events. The current state of affairs in applied and experimental psychology can be depicted in a time continuum that details the historical, political, scholarly, and intellectual circumstances that have led to the current condition. For centuries, Germany's psychology field has set global trends, and most countries have accepted the tenets outlined by a German scientist in their current practice of psychology. Wilhelm Wundt established the first psychological laboratory in Leipzig in 1879 and was the first person to refer to himself as a psychologist. Since then other scholars have emerged expanding the boundaries of psychology. This study, therefore, seeks to explore the sequences of those events and their contributions to the present state applied psychology.

Applied psychology is a branch of psychology where practical research is put into action. It focuses on implementing real-world results as opposed to abstract theories and other laboratory-based experiments (2011, Davey). This branch is aimed at validating methods in psychology to achieve practical results. In practice today, this is evidenced by the following disciplines; counselling psychology, industrial and organizational psychology, legal psychology, forensic psychology, neuropsychology, sports psychology, engineering psychology and school psychology among others.

This sequence of events began with Wilhelm Wundt’s 1879 laboratory at the University of Leipzig. Although this was more of experimental psychology, it marked the inception of modern day applied psychology as it provided a platform for research and actualizing the findings of the psychological study. From this artistic creation sprouted sub-branches of applied psychology. This phase led to the development of experimental frameworks which was later made practical resulting in applied psychology. Other German scholars such as Emil Kraepelin, Ernst Meumann and Karl Marbe picked up the wave and created different niches within the branch.

The second event was the professionalization of applied psychology that saw the foundation of the Institute of Applied Psychology and General Psychological Research by Otto Lipmann and William Stern in Neu Babelsberg, Berlin. This establishment led to the institutionalization of applied psychology in academic and practical realms. The institute was contracted to carry out psychological research for schools, industries and ministries. This stage was further catalyzed by the large budgetary allocations purposely for research. More scientists were drawn into the field of interest was aroused and more time was spent on expanding the knowledge boundary. Sub-disciplines such as industrial psychotechnology for use in industries emerged as the industrial revolution was at a peak.

The developments in German industrialization saw the need for psychological help to workers and managers of industries cope up with pressure and other forms stress that came with work setting the beginning of industrial psychology. Medical workforce led by Albert Mall and Arthur Kronfield began expressing interest in integrating psychology into medicine which saw the development of practice in medical and clinical psychology.

The First World War of 1914 is regarded as one of the most exciting periods in the development of psychology in Germany. This period is marked by the disintegration of century-old adage notion that mental illness was solely hereditary. Both pre-war and post-war phases of World War 1 much extended the scale of medical and counselling psychology, especially within the military. A lot of resources were invested in the use of psychology in recruiting and training war soldiers. The role of psychologists became more defined during this period. Aptitude tests were developed by psycho technicians to aid in hiring the best personnel to be used as pilots, radio operators and truck drivers among other military specialization.

The team of nutritional psychologists was developed to help soldiers cope up and adjust to rationed and restricted diets. The art of combat motivation was an iconoclastic invention designed by German psychologists to help soldiers become resilient during the war. Although some of the important recommendations by psychologists to the military were ignored, the developments made then became revolutionary as is significantly influencing modern day practice in various fields of psychology (Lothar & Helga, 2001). After the war psychiatric hospitals were developed to help victims and survivors of the war. The concept of the intelligent quotient and mental age which are modern day obsessions began taking shape. Historians subscribe to the idea that World War 1 was a critical turning point in Germany academic psychology.

The Second World War (WW11) which Germany was at the forefront further spearheaded the progress in psychology made during and after World War 1. During WW11 the German government signed up thousands of psychologists to help in research and experimentation for selection, placement and training of war soldiers. WW11 was more of psychological warfare. Hitler enthusiastically employed the services of psychologists during the war (Capshew, 1986). Following the war, the field of psychology gained a new status as a consulting profession where a variety of clients could seek service. Government agencies, citizens and commercial enterprises began incorporating the services of psychologists in their errands. War psychology was diversified into new fields of medicine, business and education among other areas.

These events were momentous landmarks that revolutionized psychology into what we have today. Though predominantly German, their impacts have exceedingly influenced practice across the globe. The contemporary practice has sprouted from the contributions made by the events.


Capshew, J. (1986). Psychology on the March: American Psychologists and World War 11.

Retrieved on December 14, 2017

Lothar, S. & Helga, S. (2001). History of Modern Psychology in Germany. Retrieved on

December 14, 2017 from

Davey, G. (2011). Applied Psychology. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley-Blackwell.

April 26, 2023

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