Although there has been a sudden proliferation of literature on the topic of Communist China, one area has so far been neglected—the study of psychology. Yet it is the study of this very discipline as it has developed there that could help illuminate the modern Chinese concept of man's nature and modes of behavior. Psychological Research in Communist China: 1949-1966 is a pioneer work on this subject and contains an extensive glossary of Chinese psychological terms and their corresponding Chinese characters. The study is bounded by the following fundamental questions: How has the new field of Communist psychology shaped up? What version of Soviet psychology was introduced into Communist China, and what modifications have been made to suit China's national and political goals? What branches of this new psychology have been allowed to expand and engage in practical research? What are the major issues in psychology? And what is the nature of the subject matter as it is taught in colleges and universities? In their examination of these questions, the authors describe the debates surrounding the field, as well as the groups and organizations that conduct research; and they trace the development of the field in the areas of education, medicine, and labor.
The authors' preface underscores the reasons for such a study: “This inquiry was stimulated in part... by the example of studies of Soviet psychology and the ensuing interchange between Soviet and Western psychologists. We wondered about the fate of the field in Communist China and were led to make a parallel study, though on a much smaller scale. Perhaps, we thought, this might help bring about a similar interchange one day between mainland Chinese and Western psychologists. There was, in any case, the plain value of exploring the unexplored and learning something of current views in Communist China about man and his role in a changing society.
“To these ends, we have given a rather full description of the untranslated and until now generally unavailable material on experiments conducted in China prior to the Cultural Revolution. With that upheaval, beginning in 1966, information on psychology in China, as on many other subjects, was suddenly and sharply cut off. It has not resumed. Hence, the information on which this study is based is the latest and only information at hand. There is enough of it, we hope, to indicate the recent development of ideas in psychology in Communist China and their relationship to the sociopolitical scene.”
The author gathered their data from Chinese research journals, supplemented by material from the files of the Union Research Institute in Hong Kong,, from newspaper and radio items, biographical data, texts, and curriculum information on psychology. They also used the facilities of the East Asian Research Center of Harvard and the Harvard-Yenching Library, the M.I.T. science collection on Communist China, the Chinese Library of Columbia University, and the Library of Congress.