Topic Trend Analysis of the
Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science
(January 1985 - October 1989)

Louisa Forsberg, Deanna Maceda,
Suzanna Wong, & Dallas Reeves
Department of Psychology
Simon Fraser University

Introduction

The following is a topic trend analysis of the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science for the years 1985-1989. Some topics appeared at a relatively stable rate over the course of this 5-year period. Other topics showed upward or downward trends.

There are two points worthy of note. First, a new editorial staff took over in the January, 1986 issue. This may be responsible for some of the observed trends. The new editors may have had different theoretical orientations than the previous editors. Second, there were three issues that focused exclusively on special topics (i.e. depression, childhood, and forensic psychology) and contributed greatly to the observed upward trends in these topic areas.

The following 8 topics appeared the most frequently during the 1985-1989 period: Cognitive Psychology, Testing, Criminal Psychology, Depression-Anxiety-Stress, Children and Youth, Social Psychology, Feminist Psychology, Conclusions

Cognitive Psychology

In 1985 and 1986, the most prevalent articles were those from the field of cognitive psychology. These articles dealt with various subjects within cognitive psychology including memory, information processing, schemas, perception, cognitive therapy, and Piagetian theory. In 1987, however, cognitive psychology went from being the most prominent topic area to near insignificance. Only three articles dealing with cognitive issues were published in this year, compared to eleven in the previous year. In 1988 and 1989, cognitive articles remained infrequent relative to the topics of social, feminist, and child psychology.

The downward trend for cognitive psychology may be the result of the transference of editorial responsibilities to new leadership in 1986. It is important to note, however, that the frequency of cognitive studies did not drop until one year after the change in the editorial staff.

Testing

Unlike cognitive psychology, the frequency of articles dealing with psychometric issues remained fairly stable over the course of these 5 years. These articles dealt most often with the reliability and validity of several different testing instruments. There were several studies evaluating psychometric tests that had been translated from English into French. Also, a few articles dealt with the utility of different testing methods, such as the use of ratio versus Likert scales. The majority of these articles dealt with the clinical applications of testing, rather than the use of tests for psychological research.

Criminal Psychology

Specific topics featured on criminal psychology included eyewitness testimony and psychopathology. The number of articles on criminal psychology peaks in 1987 due to a special issue devoted to it. Apart from the special issue, criminal psychology shows a gradual, steady upward trend over the five years, likely indicating an increase in popularity.

Depression, Anxiety and Stress

Between 1985 and 1989 articles dealing with depression, anxiety and stress increased drastically. In 1985 and 1986, for example, there was no focus on these subjects. Among the 1987 issues there were two articles on the subjects and in 1988 there were four. In 1989, however, these was a special October issues totally devoted to the topic, hence, in this year, there were eleven journal articles on depressions, anxiety and / stress. Most of the articles on depression emphasized the predictability and vulnerability of depressive disorders. To a lesser degree treatment and coping strategies were elaborated upon.

The increasing number of articles featuring stress and / or anxiety coincide with increasing health awareness, a trend in society. Stress and methods of minimizing it represent applications of psychology reflective of the societal trends of the 80s.

Children and Youth

Issues dealing with youth and children have remained fairly common topics, with the exception of 1985 which only included one article on the subject. In 1987, there were four articles focusing on youth and children. The years of 1986, 1988 and 1989, however, had between seven and nine articles each devoted to this issue. The articles dealing with children and youth focused on different developmental aspects of promoting mental health. This included studies on the effects of nutrition on cognition and behaviour, available resources for help and parental influences.

Social Psychology:

The trend of social psychology has been generally stable and more popular than most of other topic areas. In 1987 there were eleven articles focusing on social psychological issues. This is unusually high considering that there were no special issues on this topic that year. High frequency of feature articles on social psychology may indicate a general trend in "Canadian psychology". The majority of the articles dealt with attributions, stereotypes, group dynamics and attitudes. The most popular year was 1987 followed by a dip in 1988, but was still generally high across all five years relative to other topics.

Feminist Psychology

Feminist psychology involves an analysis of historical roots and issues concerning gender and sex. The articles contain empirical studies or critical reviews addressing a wide range of issues relating to gender. Research includes work and career issues, violence against women, sexual victimisation, sexuality and social behaviour, family roles, sexual orientation and gender-related violence. This establishes a greater understanding of women's issues and sex roles in society. An average of 4 articles per year can be found in this area. However, no consistent pattern could be noticed from one year to another.

Conclusion

In summary, we observed a variety of trends in the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science during the years 1985-1989. By the end of this period, three topics were especially prominent: child psychology, feminist psychology, and social psychology. Cognitive psychology, on the other hand, had lost its status as the most prominent topic area by the end of this period.