Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science: 1980-1985

Students in Tom Bauslaugh's 3rd Class
Department of Psychology
Simon Fraser University


In looking at the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science from 1980 to 1985, several trends appeared. Interestingly, our account of the trends during this six year period varied slightly from those of prior students' (Psybernetika, Volume 1, Issue 3 ). The trends found by the previous group consisted of: coping, development, education, gender, family, sexual abuse/other sexual issues, culture, experimental and clinical/ assessment. Our analysis overlapped with these issues, however, we combined various topics and added new categories. For example, coping was included under job satisfaction, culture was headed under multiculturalism and sex crimes took the place of sexual abuse. New topics included: environment, bilingualism/Quebec, health, children and family. In the following pages, a socio-historical perspective will be presented in describing how psychological research has been shaped by prevalent social forces.


During the early 1980's the topic of health received increased psychological study, this was largely a reflection of the nation's escalating health problems. Psychological intervention was seen as an appropriate application because over half of all medical problems were reported as being rooted in psychological distress.

A valuable, but ethically questionable approach, of this time was to study the coping methods of terminally ill patients. Prior to this time there had been almost no studies on the long-term effects of psychotherapy in this area. Data from these studies was influential in the reformulating of several "learned helplessness" and "self-efficacy" models. Suicide prevention techniques were also improved, because it was much more likely to be found in these patients.

Cognitive behavioural strategies also received a large amount of study. The most important advantage of this approach was its ability to produce positive results quickly. Token economies were achieving similar results, which had previously taken much more time with other therapeutic methods.

Health studies also examined the interaction between aerobic fitness and psychophysiological functioning. Increased fitness levels were being associated with greater cognitive reactivity. These studies provide further evidence that fitness can serve as a beneficial component in stress management models.

The most recognized and agreed upon aspect between health and psychological well being of this time, was that it deserved increased implementation in future psychotherapy.

Sex Crimes

The topic of sex crimes became more prevalent in the years 1980-1985. There was an apparent increase in sex crimes of all types in this time period. Several Canadian child molesters and murderers were either committing their crimes or were arrested in this era. The infamous C.R.O. was sentenced in the early 1980's for the rapes and deaths of several children in British Columbia. The Paper Bag Rapist was also committing his crimes in B.C. in the early 1980's. These two individuals and others had created an atmosphere of fear in the Canadian public.

There were a total of six articles on sex crimes in the journals from 1980 to 1985. Three of these were written in 1985, reflecting the lag time from the acts committed in the first few years of the decade, or perhaps even from the 1970s. The articles dealt with topics like victims resistance in rape, child abuse, attributions of responsibility toward rape victims and rapists, wife assault, heterosocial skill training for institutionalized rapists and child molesters, and motives and attitudes of rapists.

As can be seen in these articles, rape was being mentioned more often, while more women were reporting it. The public realized that rape does not just happen between strangers. The public as a whole became more aware of the extent of this problem.

The Canadian publications during this time reflected the ever-increasing concern and fear of rape. In 1981, Maclean's published articles titled "Fighting against living in fear" and "Rape: no longer a four-letter word". In 1982, the Alberta Report published "Alberta's epidemic of rape" and Chatelaine's "Ask a lawyer: my husband forced me to have sex with him. Can I charge him with rape" was printed. In 1982, Maclean's printed "How a rapist has terrified a city" and in 1985, Canadian Nurse printed "Sexual assault care centre (Women's College Hospital)."


Many changes took place in the Canadian families in the 1980-1985 time period. The composition of the family was changing. The divorce rate increased and parents had fewer children. More women worked outside the home and there were increasing confusion over the traditional roles of mother and father. With both parents in the workforce more children were placed in daycare facilities. Mortgage rates had hit an all time high of 19% and fewer families were able to own their own homes.

There were six articles written on family issues in this period and four of them were published in 1982. The articles on families covered maternal discipline, sibling interaction, the two-way influence process between parents and children, the development of the child's concept of the family, clinical interventions in custody and access disputes and social support during the transition to parenthood.

Articles printed in other publications on this topic in the early 1980's included Chatelaine's 1981 articles "New norm: the two-income couple: double the pleasure or double the stress" and "Courses: can they help a marriage succeed". In 1982, Alberta Report printed "Daddy wants the kid: divorced Alberta fathers blast the courts". Other interesting articles were Canadian Home Economy's "New roles for the family" and Chatelaine's 1985 article "Should you have more than two children".

The 1980's were also a time when married couples began to seek counselling and classes to help their troubled marriages. As more fathers began accepting greater responsibilities in the home, they were more likely to get custody of their children than previously was possible. There was more interest in children's thoughts and family meetings became a regular event in many families.


Child psychology continued with increasing curiosity in the last few decades. The topic of child development refers to all aspects of children, encompassing emotional, physical, moral and social change.

The majority of the articles found in the journal from the period 1980 to 1985, dealing with children, involved some aspect of development. In 1980 there was a major focus on children of the preschool age. Articles in this period emphasized the social competence of children this age. Three out of four articles focused specifically on the development of children's learning in social settings. The fourth involved Piaget's theories of logic. Studies published in 1981 showed interest in specific topics such as IQ and self concept and sex role stereotypes. Research from 1982 through 1984 also focused on family, peers and social cognitive development. Personality tests and the WISC-R test were also used during this time. In the mid eighties, the incidence of reporting child abuse increased, thus contributing to the rise in social awareness of this problem. As a result, therapeutic methods to cope with this problem were postulated in large proportion of journal articles. The importance of these issues was reflected in such magazines as Maclean's and Chatelaine.

Although the rising influence of child psychology occurred before the early eighties, this period continued to show a high interest in all aspects of child development .


Multiculturalism was a central issue in the 1970's with emphasis placed on intergroup harmony among all ethnic groups in Canada. The majority of articles found from 1980 to 1985 focused on this issue which reflects the difficulty of attaining intergroup harmony.

All of the articles on this topic from 1980 to 1983 dealt with ethnic images. Specific topics involved preferences of race and ethnic self-labeling. According to most of the articles, people described themselves by ethnic background with Caucasians still being portrayed as the ideal. Interestingly, this research is contrary to the Canadian ideal of equality between races. The articles published in 1984 and 1985 focused on increasing the harmony of all ethnic groups. Research emphasized intergroup harmony and awareness of social and educational perspectives on diminishing racism. The under-representation of minorities was also a pertinent issue in these years. These issues were consistent with articles found in Maclean's and Ethnic Studies.


The study of gender encompasses many domains such as gender differences, sex roles, the effects of socialization on these processes, gender stereotypes and female employment. The study of gender was largely set in motion by the feminist movement of the 1970's. The rising popularity of feminism influenced psychology and was marked, in 1975, by the creation of a task force of women in the CPA to recognize feminist issues. This task force stimulated research on gender issues in order to understand the processes underlying sexism.

As a result of this influence, there was a proliferation of research in the early eighties on such topics as gender differences, the socialization of sex roles and feminism in psychological research. For example, there were two articles published between 1980 and 1985 that focused on feminist issues in psychological research.

Another instrumental force in gender research was the increasing number of women entering the workforce. This trend increased dramatically during the recession of 1981. From 1976 to 1981 the amount of women in the labour force rose by almost ten percent as opposed to only a five- percent increase in the previous five-year period (Stats Canada Report 1980/81). The influence of this trend on psychological research is evident in the increased number of published articles on topics such as: the effects of maternal employment, the contradicting roles of mother and professional on a women's identity and gender bias on judgements of occupational suitability.

Trends in research on gender issues have been directed into various avenues due to changing social circumstances and pressures. The proliferation of gender research can be seen as a result of the increasing influence of the feminist movement in the 1970's and the increase of women in the workforce during the early eighties.


The dynamics between English speaking Canadians and native French speaking Canadians have been a potent force in shaping Canadian culture and politics. The bilingual nature of Canada spurred much research on bilingualism. This trend was reflected in the early eighties through research on topics such as: social and individual factors in second language acquisition, the effects of personality in language acquisition and a study on improving second language acquisition through both printed script and spoken dialogue.

The relationship between English and French speaking Canadians is best embodied by the tensions between Quebec and the rest of Canada which have been highly publicized. Interest in this relationship is illustrated in a consistently high number of articles published on cultural differences between Anglophones and Francophones. These differences are depicted in research on the intrinsic/extrinsic conditions of second language acquisition for Anglophones and Francophones and cultural differences in family power in decision making. Other research focused on conflict and language planning in Quebec and students' views of group tensions in Quebec. The research interest in cultural differences between Anglophones and Francophones can be largely attributed to the Quebec Separatist movement as researchers have attempted to search for cultural factors that might foster this movement.

Research in both bilingualism and the tensions between Quebec and the rest of Canada remained consistently high throughout the early eighties. One factor that may account for this trend was the Quebec Referendum of 1981, which maintained a high level of interest in Quebec because of the political implications of the referendum.


The topic of environment was virtually ignored from 1980 through 1985. In fact, there was only one article found on this topic. There was however , a sizeable interest in environment and psychology during the decade before. This emphasis in the 1970's was most likely due to the effects of the civil rights movement in the 1960's. The early 80's were characterized by a lack of attention paid to environmental issues by the psychological community. In the latter half of the 1980's though, there was an increasing awareness in environmental concerns as North Americans recognized the effects of our industrialized society on the environment.


Educational issues were a major focus during these six years. Specifically, the articles covered issues surrounding children in elementary and secondary school settings. The most attention was directed toward the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children- Revised. There were numerous studies on this topic. Some of the other work done on education was concerned with language, achievement and issues surrounding ethnicity and education. The latter is a product of increasing emphasis on multiculturalism. There was an emphasis on educational reform as is evident in the development of the Year 2000 Programme, which proposed the progressive concept of child centred learning. Overall, education was a major focus during the early 1980's.

Job Satisfaction

Psychological studies on job satisfaction during the early 1980's focused on potential gender differences. Examination of this topic reveals that there were two dominating ideologies, thus producing two areas of study. The first area was identified by studies that simply gathered scientific data as a means of confirming or disproving public opinion. The other area of research was more concerned with experimentally testing and improving the methodology used by the statistic seekers. This group of psychologists believed that the implemented survey methods were riddled with gender biases and confounding variables.

The initial wave of data produced by the statistic seekers reported that there was not a significant difference between genders in job satisfaction. However, after subsequent revisions and increased input from the psychologists concerned with methodology, females began reporting greater job satisfaction than males. It was discovered that previous surveys were lacking the areas in which females obtained their satisfaction, thus they were not able to report it. More importantly, psychologists were now able to see how and where each gender formed the basis of perceived satisfaction. The results of this work conducted in the early 1980's is proving to be beneficial as the work-place witnesses increased equal representation from both genders.


From the discussion above, it is apparent that socio-political factors have shaped psychology. Some of the factors that influenced psychological research in Canada from 1980 to 1985 were: the feminist movement of the 1970's, educational reform (i.e. the Year 2000 Project), the dynamics between Quebec and the rest of Canada, increased reporting of sexual abuse, rising diversification of ethnicity in Canada and the nation's escalating health problems. These topics are only a small segment of the totality of social forces directing psychology. As this time period is so brief, it was difficult to ascertain any ongoing trends in psychological research.