Canadian Psychology 1991-1995

Nica Silikas & Dermot Kerins
Department of Psychology
Simon Fraser University

The most recurrent themes in the Canadian Psychology, reflected in the research articles from 1991 to 1995, are that of violence, the internal and external struggles of psychology in finding a niche, information systems, and immigration. Cover topics from popular magazines such as, Time and Maclean's will be used as the main indicators of the zeitgeist of this time interval.

The Vancouver and Montreal sports team riots showed the spilling over of societal violence onto city streets. The research articles definitively reflect this increase in violence with psychological studies focusing on child abuse, sexual assault of women, incest. Specifically, psychological assessments are becoming an important instrument in protecting civilians from other civilians. As well as dealing with violent members of society, psychology harnesses itself by instituting preventative activities in the first place, rehabilitation of victims, and determining whether or not victims of violence can proficiently provide evidence in the court of law to convict an offender.

At present, down sizing or short-term contractual work is becoming increasingly important in times of economic uncertainty. For example, Canada's tenuous economic status was paralleled by the bullion and stock market crashes just prior to the final vote of the Quebec referendum. The research articles reflect similar concerns over the fragmentation within the discipline itself, and the need for more interdisciplinary activity. Native land claims (i.e. Oka) and related issues of west coast fisheries reflect the economic uncertainty in regard to Canadian natural resources. Not only do the articles promote togetherness, but also its own economic survival. In trying to re-define itself, psychology reviewed the pre and post WW2 conditions that provided the conditions for psychology to gain entrance into the solutions for real-world problems (practical applications). Instead of relegating individuals into suitable military jobs, psychology's assessment procedures are the now harnessed more towards evaluating in future performance of vocationally related tasks.

Also, as technologies such as, the Internet and fax machines have become prevalent, the articles react to the acceleration through contemplation and re-evaluation. Articles review the migration of European ideas and methodological issues to the "new" world. In 1995, the Commonwealth games reminded Canada of its colonial roots, and the resignation of Princess Diana from her figurehead position in a legion of the Canadian military, demonstrated the loosening grip on the imperial reigns that England once had held so tight. The articles indicate that Canadian psychology is firmly thinking by and for itself by determining the reliability and validity of its theories.

With immigration policies allowing Canada's population to climb gradually, articles are investigating the debate over assimilation versus acculturation. Articles are also concerned with setting up programs to allow immigrants to fit into Canada's pre-existing cultural mosaic.