Four Trend Analysis of the
Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science (1980-1994)

Michelle Ainsworth, Andrew McIntosh,
Dagmar Bauer, & Kimberly Stringer
Department of Psychology
Simon Fraser University


Four trends were discovered while researching the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Sciences' papers from 1980 to 1984. The first is an increased interest in Industrial and Organizational psychology, looking at the effects of a recession on Canadian workers. The second trend involves gender stereotyping and sex biases as occur throughout the development of Canadian children and in the adult work place, respectively. Thirdly, multiculturalism was found to be of great social concern in the early 1980's. It's effects on Anglophones and minorities, such as the Quebec and First Nation populations are discussed. Lastly, criminality was discovered to be of great interest at this time. Developmental causes of criminal behaviour were largely studied at this time, as well as the effects criminal behaviour had on victims of crime and society as a whole.

Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Industrial psychology/organizational psychology (abbreviated: I/O psychology), a branch of applied psychology, is an area of study that covers military, economic and personnel psychology. Hugo Munsterberg contributed greatly to the development of I/O psychology. In his 1913 work, Psychology and Industrial Efficiency, Munsterberg introduced the aim of this new field of psychology:

to sketch the outlines of a new science which is to intermediate between the modern laboratory psychology and the problems of economics: the psychological experiment is systematically to be placed at the service of commerce and industry. (Munsterberg, cited in Watson & Evans, 1991, p. )

Since Munsterberg's initial contribution, the branch of I/O psychology has grown to encompass such areas as: organizational behaviour, personnel practices, human engineering, workplace stress and fatigue, workplace efficiency, etc.

The content of industrial/organizational psychology seems to be implicitly tied to the degree of interest in national economics situations. During the period of 1980 to 1984, there seems to have been a great degree of focus on the Canadian economy. The early 1980's saw a falling Canadian economy; it was the beginnings of a major recession that would decline for nearly a half a decade. The labour force at this time experienced rapid change due to high unemployment, technical advances, deindustrialization (i.e., closure of manufacturing industries due to plant closures and relocation) and organizational restructuring. The intimate relationship of national economics, labour markets and individuals' standards of living, suggested that various areas of applied science might focus on industrial and organizational goals.

Articles Submitted to the Canadian Journal of Behvioural Science (CJBS), during the years 1980 to 1984, did show a trend toward the application of psychological studies to industry and business organizations. Approximately 2% of all the articles published in the C J B S during this period, were explicitly related to industry. Within this I/O trend, several sub-categories can be seen: employee diversity, decision making and occupational stress.

Employee diversity issues explicitly dealt within in the CJBS were clearly of two types: gender differences and ethnic relations. Within the past fifteen years, women's' participation in the labour market has increased tremendously. Issues regarding the wage gap (i.e., equal pay for equal work)and discriminatory hiring practice (e.g., the glass ceiling effect-the invisible barrier that bars women from higher business echelons) are explored in several of the journal articles. For example, a 1980 article looked at causal attributions made in relation to women in management positions. In the area of ethnic relations, similar issues were explored; for example, a 1982 article investigated employee perceptions of Anglophone vs. Francophone management.

Decision making issues were also under investigation in several articles. Generally, the questions being explored related both specifically and generally with personnel selection. One may speculate that with the increasing unemployment rates, the competition for jobs increased. Increased competition in the job market, perhaps, influenced research in the area of personnel selection. Further, organizational restructuring (e.g., downsizing) as a response to economic slump may have influenced additional interest in experiments on productivity, and arbitration and negotiation.

Finally, the articles published in the CJBS showed a trend towards investigations of occupational stress. Several articles applied previously created clinical tools to workplace assessment. For example,"The Life Attitude Profile" was used in relation to the assessment of stress and productivity in the workplace, in two articles.

Though there appeared to be a trend towards investigation of characteristics that make for a safe, fair and productive work environment, several populations were surprisingly absent. The articles published during this time did not touch on issues of disabled individuals, new immigrants in the workplace or on work within a global market. Not surprisingly, however, was the complete absence of explicitly military issues (perhaps due to the decline in Canadian military activity).

Stereotyping and Sex Bias

The category of stereotyping and sex bias encompasses issues of inferences made from physical appearance and prejudices relating to gender. There was a marked interest in these subjects from 1980 to 1984.

Specifically, topics included research on: how attributions are influenced by sex-role stereotypes, objectivity in personality judgments based on physical attractiveness, moral responsibility or moral rights as perceived by men and women (although no difference was found); views on traditional sex-roles, choice of gender appropriate toys, and sex biases concerning occupations.

The early eighties saw a growing awareness concerning the equal rights of men and women. The laws to, were reflecting these concerns and were being amended. Nevertheless, sex bias and stereotyping was apparently still widespread throughout society and not confined to any particular section of the population. These studies included: women managers from the public and the private sector, psychology students from college and university, men and women of different occupations, adolescents and even preschool children. While these studies were done in Canada, at least one of them (involving young children and young adults and their perceptions of traditional sex-roles) was supported by very similar findings in Ireland, England and the United States.

Sex bias and stereotyping are apparently occurring in most age groups. Subjects included the young, the middle-aged, the elderly and even children as young as thirty-four months of age. The persistence of gender related bias can therefore, at least in part, be explained by the finding that it is already established at a very early age. One study proposes that young peoples' understanding of gender differences becomes more pronounced as they grow older. One may add, that it was assumed that prejudices are learnt. Therefore, when these young people mature and raise families of their own, they likely model the biases they had once incorporated to the next generation. In this way, sex biases and stereotyping are perpetuated and are apparently difficult to eradicate.

Multiculturalism in Canada

During the early 1980's, Canadian Anglophones and Francophones needed to adjust to a different kind of multiculturalism under the new Canadian constitution. Cultural clashes and identity struggles were numerous among many Canadians of all backgrounds at this time. Perhaps it was these social and political concerns which drove psychologists to observe the effects these tensions may have had on a number of Canadians.

French Immersion for Anglophone children was prominent in the early 1980's and perhaps, numerous studies were performed in order to gain insight on how these classes were affecting students. It was found that immersion students perceived a narrower gap between the French and the English, compared to those children attending English schools. These children held more positive perceptions of the French, felt fewer tensions between the two groups, but more importantly, they were able to produce better suggestions and solutions to ameliorate relations among the French and the English. It was suggested that those children who had been immersed in another language and culture, felt a need to integrate the two groups and not simply search for a short-term solution, such as, learning the other's language.

Studies were performed to discover the most efficient ways of teaching children in immersion programs. It was found that children learn most efficiently and effectively when being presented information that is both auditory and visual modes. As a result of its success, many students were taught using spoken dialogue and printed script. Studies were also done to show that those Anglophone children beginning the program in early elementary school became more proficient in French than those starting later. This supports the critical period hypothesis.

In the 1980's, as today, many Canadians of different cultures were concerned about the issues of identity within a multicultural nation. Firstly, a number of studies were done on children of majorities and minorities and it was found that minority children integrated ethnic labels (perceiving themselves as a minority) much later than did "white" children. This was once observed through young native children showing a lag in racial preference and discrimination as compared to young Anglophones. Secondly, while children in immersion programs developed a greater similarity between other children of different cultures (perhaps due to linguistic similarities), children were found not to lose their ethnic identity, which was a threat to many English, as well as, French speaking Canadians.

When analyzing the tensions between English and French speaking adults in Canada, the studies seemed to show a greater intergroup hostility than seen with the children. Some studies were performed to see the different perceptions of Anglophone and Francophone supervisors concerning their multicultural worker forces. The Francophone supervisors rated their workers performance relatively equally, whereas the Anglophone supervisors rated on average the minorities lower than the English-speaking majority. This was said to be an example of English ethnocentrism, perhaps in response to threatening change in-group relations with Francophone Quebec. On the other hand, it was believed that many Francophones perceived cultural differences as motivationally based on a need to reinforce their cultural distinctiveness.

Lastly, many studies concerned themselves with analyzing factors that may separate and connect Canadians of distinct cultures, such as, the ideas centered on the contact hypothesis and attempts in learning a second language. Many of the studies' conclusions were used to create multicultural policies that preach mutual ethnic tolerance.

Criminal Behaviour

Throughout the early eighties, the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Sciences also featured a significant number of articles dealing with criminality. A survey of these articles showed a very broad range of articles in this area. Despite the many topics encountered, however, most articles could be understood in terms of either the causes or the effects of criminal behaviour.

Articles dealing with the causes of criminality focused on pre-criminal behaviour and its development. The development and prevention of child behaviour problems, for example, was the focus of four articles in the early eighties. An understanding of the criminal mind, especially with regard to motivation and attitude, was also a focus of a number of studies.

Articles dealing with the effects of criminal behaviour focused on how we deal with both criminals and victims of crime. The effects of victim response in the prevention of criminal behaviour were the focus of three separate studies. Four articles focused on the rehabilitation of criminals, especially with regard to testing procedures. The perception of crime by the general public, and particularly issues of judgement by the public were also featured in a number of articles.

The overall focus of articles related to criminal behaviour showed an interesting pattern as well. A general focus on the causes of criminality between 1979 and 1982, (9 out of 11 articles) shifted to an emphasis on its effects for the years 1983-1985 (7 out of 9 articles). The reasons for this shift are unclear.


Our survey of the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Sciences called attention to four specific research trends in the early 80's. These included research on: Industrial/organizational psychology, gender stereotyping and sex biases, issues concerning multiculturalism in Canada and on criminal behaviour and its consequences. In addition to these specific trends, however, a broader trend of the time period yields other consistencies. There is, for example, a clear focus on the development of attitudes and behaviours in children. The trends of research in gender stereotyping, multiculturalism and criminality all showed a focus in this area. The idea that research is motivated by the social climate is also supported by our analysis of research trends. Research on industrial/organizational psychology during a time of recession, as well as research on multiculturalism and criminality during a time of constitutional debate, is evidence for a cultural influence. Overall, we might conclude that trends in both the psychological community and in the cultural climate have a significant impact on the research done by psychologists.


Watson, R. I. & Evans, R. B. (1991). The great psychologists: a history of psychological thought. New York: HarperCollins.