7.0 Sexual Abuse/Other Sexual Issues
10.0 Clinical and Assessment Issues
The purpose of this paper is to examine the historical trends of psychology in Canada as found in the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science from 1975 to 1995. During this twenty year period, nine prevalent categories were identified. By examining these topics, we aimed to produce a representative account of the prevalent issues which contributed to the evolution of psychology in Canada. These categories are: coping, development, education, gender, family, sexual abuse/other sexual issues, culture, experimental/social, and clinical /assessment issues.
Given that this is a Canadian journal, it is not surprising that 90% of the articles were written by psychologists in Canada. Seven percent were submitted by Americans and 3% originated from outside of North America. The language make-up favoured articles written in English, with 86%, while 14% were French. These statistics are summarized in Figures 1 and 2.
The category of "coping" includes issues that focus on how people deal with different problems, experiences, emotions and conflicts. Coping mechanisms and the effectiveness of coping strategies are also included in this area. Coping has become an increasingly more prevalent issue in psychology since the mid 1980s. This trend shows an almost continual increase in the number of studies published on coping from 1985 to the present. The graph also shows the highest frequency of articles related to coping was found in the nineties. In fact, almost 47% of the articles were published in this five year period. The most common topic trends that appeared almost exclusively during this time were coping with anxiety, stress and alcoholism. This may be explained by the fact that Canadian society in the eighties and nineties has become more fast-paced, demanding and competitive, creating higher stress levels and increased responsibilities for the average individual. Coping with a perceived lack of control in situations, health problems, fear of pain, lack of social support, child behaviour problems and marital dissatisfaction also appeared in several of the journal articles.
The late 1970s and early 1980s exhibited no specific trend in the frequency of articles on coping. These years showed random increases and decreases in an uncharacteristic pattern. The common topics found during this period such as coping with anxiety, stress, drug and alcohol addiction and learned helplessness may have been indicators of the beginning of the dominance of these factors in psychological research in later years. Other issues included coping with near-death experiences and strategies to stop smoking.
Research on coping serves as an indicator of some of the problems facing individuals in our society today. Since issues dealing with coping have increased quite steadily over the past ten years, it will be interesting to see how this topic progresses in psychological research in the future.
The category of "development" refers to all aspects of growth including physical, emotional, cognitive, moral and social. A pattern of extreme fluctuation was consistent throughout the twenty year period from 1975 to present. The majority of articles were concerned with child (developmental) psychology. Although the quantity of content dealing with development showed no significant trends, the specific subject matter showed some noticeable differences.
For instance, Piaget's theories were a major focus in the research reported in the years from 1975 to 1983, while his influence consistently declined somewhat in the years following until present. However, topics which were consistently reported during the twenty year span included: cognitive development; reasoning abilities; moral development; development of language; and social development. In the 1990s, the focus has remained on child psychology, but, in addition to the topics already reported, subject matter such as behavioural disorders and the development of cultural identity were examined. On the whole, there was a high incidence of articles dealing with developmental topics during this period.
The category of "education" includes all aspects of the educational process, especially studies conducted in school settings. A trend appeared in the amount of educational content in the articles. The analysis indicated a moderate interest in education during the late 1970s and early 1980s, but few articles about education were published during the years 1984 to 1992. Finally, in 1993 and 1994, there appeared to be an increase in interest in the topic of education reported in the articles.
Specific subject matter included research on academic achievement and social maturity. As well, there was a significant focus in the late 1970s and early 1980s on cultural aspects within the school setting. Comparisons of academic achievement and attitudes were made between English and French students, as well as between Caucasian and Native students. How these groups interacted with each other was also explored. In addition, a significant focus on early childhood education was found and educational structures and techniques were evaluated and explored.
During 1993 and 1994, there was a noticeable shift from education involving children to education involving adults. Examples include teaching strategies and research conducted in colleges and universities. Overall, a significantly higher interest in education was reported in the late 1970s and early 1980s than in the rest of the years, until recently.
The "gender" category includes articles dealing specifically with issues involving men or women; similarities and differences between the two sexes; and other gender related topics. Gender issues most likely play an important role in psychology because discrimination against individuals based on sex has been a long- standing problem and source of much conflict in Canadian society.
During the mid to late 1970s, gender issues were not commonly published in the journal. In fact, only six articles were based on this topic during those years. Common subject matter of these gender-related articles included gender differences between men and women in novelty seeking, cognition and personality. Others involved the differences in morals of males and females; attitudes toward the sexes; and sex role stereotypes.
The eighties brought about a considerable increase in the number of gender articles, but there was a random fluctuation in frequency of articles that fit into this category within this ten year period. Therefore, no consistent pattern was noticeable from year to year. However, more than half of the articles were published in the early eighties (from 1980 to 1984). Then, a slight decrease in the popularity of gender articles was observed from the mid to late 1980s. Topic areas for articles included: discrimination against women in the media and the work place; sex- role typing; and differences between the sexes in stress management, intrinsic motivation, discrimination, marriage satisfaction and social isolation.
From 1992 until 1994, articles about gender differences increased quite dramatically. Gender differences were studied on topics such as: perceived facial attractiveness; preschoolers abilities to identify the emotions of others; marital adjustment and satisfaction; frequency of reporting depression; and mental and motor development of children.
Unfortunately, the trends found during the twenty year period provide us with insight into a rather sad reality for our society. The fact that gender related issues still play a major role in psychological research indicates that equality problems and gender differentiation are still prevalent issues in Canadian culture today.
The category of "family" issues involves studies addressing the family in society, interactions between family members, and parenting issues. From the years 1975-1995, the number of studies focusing on family issues steadily increased. The early seventies approached the family as a whole. For example, the role of family in America and ethnic family structures were explored.
In the early eighties, seventeen studies which still concentrated on the family as a whole, were found. Topics included issues such as family interactions and planning. The later part of this decade reflected the pressures of societal changes in attitudes toward family dysfunctions. There were twenty-three studies found on this area. Many of the studies pertained to child abuse, the consequences of two-career families, and coping strategies.
The early to mid nineties reflected a continuation in the interest in family dysfunctions and problems. There were forty- six topics under the family heading, which was the most prevalent topic for the years 1993 to 1995. Most of the studies in the early nineties revolved around child abuse and other disorders.
The mid nineties suggested a shift in focus toward interactions within families, not the family as a whole. However, the studies appeared to start focusing on the possible causes of dysfunctions. Examples included interactions between siblings, correlations of spousal satisfaction and marriage happiness, and gender differences in anger. This shift suggests an attempt to narrow down possible problem areas that families face. Overall, the topic of the family was studied with increasing interest over the last twenty years. It reached it's peak in 1991, and appears to be of more interest now than in previous years.
The category of "sexual abuse and other sexual issues" encompasses topics that focus on child sexual abuse, sexual dysfunctions, and their effects and treatment programs. Other sexual issues, such as sexual relations would also be included, however, no articles were found on this topic in our twenty year analysis of this journal.
The topic of sexual abuse during the late seventies was limited. Only four studies were performed, the general issues covered included sexual assault and abuse. One study dealt with the views on homosexuality. During the early eighties, only one study, which was about premarital sex and guilt, was found. This may have been the last attempt to avoid the issue of sexual assault and dysfunctions in Canadian psychology. The late eighties included eight studies, all focusing on sexual dysfunctions. For example, rape, sexual child abuse, and sexual dysfunctions. This explosion, however, only included eight studies and represents the peak term throughout all twenty years in dealing with this issue. The general outcomes were geared toward the effects of sexual abuse. The early to mid nineties generated six studies on sexual abuse. The focus appears to have shifted away from the effects of sexual abuse, and moved toward effective recovery programs and coping methods.
The overall change in research on sexual abuse over the twenty year period was significant. The first years avoided it, the middle years tested the effects of sexual abuse, and the later years showed a desire to understand and help sex offenders and their victims.
Topics in the "culture" category proved to be quite popular in the journal from 1975 to 1995. The "culture" subtitle pertains to the studies which focused on race or ethnic differences between people in social groups; for example, aboriginal peoples, French speaking Canadians, and Asians.
The 1970s appeared to be the most predominant years for cultural issues research. From 1975 to 1979, approximately 55% of the articles relating to culture were found during these five years. The most common type of study involved the comparison between English and French speaking Canadians. Issues ranged from cognitive abilities in children to adult attitudes in the workforce. Some studies also touched upon Native issues; but it was not a significant trend. A key point to note is that five years were observed, therefore, an even larger number of cultural issues are suspected to have been addressed prior to 1975.
From 1980 to 1989, there was a downward shift in cultural issues raised in the journal. Out of the possible sixty nine topics raised in the twenty-five year span, 20% were found in this time frame. Most of the articles again, dealt with differences and similarities between English and French speaking Canadians. Multicultural policies were also mentioned. A few Native and Asian issues were also touched upon, however they did not comprise the bulk of the articles.
Finally, from 1990-1995, French and Canadian issues, as before, were the predominant topics discussed. It is interesting to note that there appears to be an increase in the number of articles which dealt with Asian issues and immigration. A possible explanation for this trend could be due to the increasing number of people immigrating into Canada.
Topics in the areas of "experimental and social" psychology were quite popular in the twenty year journal time period. Experimental studies included anything that was done in a laboratory setting or was empirical in nature. Articles fell within the category of social psychology if they pertained to any "social" issues such as attribution, perceptions, and attitudes. In the past twenty years, researchers demonstrated a keen interest in this field, as evidenced by the 149 articles found in the journals. In terms of a percentage, more than 10% of the articles fell within this domain.
The mid-1970s to the early eighties was an extremely productive time for psychologists. Articles included in the experimental category dealt with such issues as treatment and therapy for mental disorders, physiological psychology, memory, and pain control techniques. Social psychological issues addresses topics like attitudes, attitude change, and stereotypes. Both categories had equal coverage, none having more emphasis than the other.
In 1981, we saw a peak in experimental/social research done in psychology. Most studies, however, moved away from the experimental aspects, concentrating more on social issues. Moreover, there was a lot of interest in the social psychological implications among adults and children. This trend continued for several years.
The emphasis changed in 1985, where we saw a shift toward the experimental category again. Most studies dealt with cognitive processes, thus reflecting an increased interest in issues dealing with memory, recall and locus of control. Cognitive psychology remained at the forefront for the rest of this decade as most experiments dealt with language processing, recall and attention, and various other cognitive processes.
In 1990, we saw a dramatic decline of studies in this area, especially in experimental psychology. Of the three articles done from 1990-1992, all articles were within the domain of social psychology. The specific issues that were addressed pertained to the ethics and implications of research and interpersonal evaluations. The following three years proved again to be relatively fruitful with respect to the amount of coverage this category received. The trend toward social psychology prevailed, as researchers addressed topics of attribution, social interaction, social reputation, social support, and physical attractiveness in dating.
Many of the articles published in the journal from 1975 to 1995 were concerned with the effectiveness of treatment methods of different disorders. In addition, the validity of personality and intelligence tests were also examined. These are the major issues that comprised the "clinical and assessment" category of our content analysis.
Clinical and assessment issues were a primary concern throughout the twenty years of publications under investigation. They were, for example, extremely prevalent in the late eighties and early nineties. From 1987 to 1991, the number of articles dealing with such issues represented approximately 30% of all articles published during those years. During the other years, only about 5% of the reports dealt with clinical or assessment issues.
A number of articles in this category had a clinical aspect to them, but the majority involved assessment scale evaluations. Assessment scales such as theMMPI, WAIS, WAIS-R, and WISC-R were tested for their validity. The studies published in French were often concerned with the differences between the English and French versions of certain assessment scales and whether they were equally accurate or valid. This type of research occurred with greater frequency in the most recent years of publication. This increase was a result of the fact that French articles overall appeared more commonly in recent years. Articles dealing with clinical issues centered on the effectiveness of treatment of depression and the effectiveness of behavioural therapies.
Given the nature of this category, it was not surprising to find that many of the articles had received funding or financial contributions from agencies and institutions outside of psychological academia. In particular, hospitals were involved in many of these studies and in several instances, a hospital was the sole contributor to the research.
Clinical and assessment issues will continue to be a part of psychology in Canada. Being one of the principle publications of the CPA, the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Sciences will likely continue to include reports in this area of research.
The "other" category refers to the topics covered that do not fit into the nine specified categories. It includes a wide range of social and personal issues such as criminology, biological studies (genetics and mental illness), facial expressions, leadership skills, and quality of communications.
There seems to be no real trend among these miscellaneous issues over the twenty year period. The analysis indicates that total coverage for this category dropped drastically between 1983 to 1989. The number then increased significantly until 1990, and dropped again afterwards. Although a slight increase could be observed between 1992 and 1993, it declined again after 1994.
In addition, some of the topics in this category appeared to fit into some of the nine categories simultaneously. For topics such as relationships between young couples, gender issues were also often emphasized in the study. In the 1970s, much attention was devoted to medical health issues. Topics like criminology, biological problems and adolescent drug abuse were emphasized. A variety of issues focusing on individuals appeared to be the prominent focus during the next decade. It covered topics such as leadership skills, facial expressions, self-discipline, personal space, and anticipation of chance. Miscellaneous social issues were a major concern in the 1990s, the journal collection covered topics such as quality of communication, alcoholism, and research on discriminative behaviour.
The results of the topic analysis clearly indicate that events in the outside world dramatically influence the direction of psychological research. The social climate, in many ways, dictates the issues that will be of major concern for those doing research in this discipline. Given that psychology can be defined as the study of individual behaviour, it is not surprising that the subject matter of psychology is shaped by everyday people and everyday concerns.
Since psychology is constantly seeking to understand human behaviour for both practical and academic purposes, it will be interesting to note the changes that will inevitably come about in the years to come.