This article was adapted from a contribution prepared by Nesrin H. Sahin, 2008, that was published in Wedding, D., & Stevens, M. J. (Eds.). (2009). Psychology: IUPsyS Global Resource (Edition 2009) [CD-ROM]. International Journal of Psychology, 44(Suppl. 1).
During the Ottoman period, which began with Restoration in 1839 and continued until World War I, pioneering activities in psychology were reflected to the reading public in Turkey through translations of Le Bon, W. James, J. Dewey, T. Ribot, Binet, Büchner, Bourget, Rousseau, Höffding, Ebbinghaus and through conferences by national intellectuals of diverse origin, on topics like intelligence, child psychology, and education. 1915 marks the beginning of psychology as a science when a German professor Anschütz was invited to teach at Istanbul University. In that year also, the Binet-Simon Test of intelligence was translated into Turkish, a year before its American adaptation in 1916. Again at that time a first psychology textbook, written by þekip M. Tunç, was published, and psychology courses were introduced into teacher training institutes.
In 1937, the first experimental psychology laboratory was established by Prof. W. Peters of Germany and a journal called, Psychological Studies was begun. In 1939, Muzaffer Sherif in Ankara, the first Turkish national with a psychology degree from Harvard and Columbia Universities, established the psychology department in Ankara University and chaired it for six years. He attempted the standardization of the Terman-Merrill and Army Beta tests in Turkey; translated into Turkish Woodworth's Schools of "Contemporary Psychology" and Merrill's, "Measurement of intelligence" and founded a small laboratory for experiments in psychophysics. As it was true for the other international professors, fleeing from Germany, Sherif also got his share of lack of funds, the government bureaucracy preventing him from realizing his plans, and prejudice regarding social scientific work.
During the tumultuous years of the First World War, the collapse
of the Ottoman Empire, the rise of the Turkish Republic, and the Second World War, psychology in Turkey, which had started out as a promising new field and which could have developed hand-in-hand with international development, remained a rather obscure academic discipline. The field has developed slowly, though steadily over the years, however, first under European influence but especially after the 1960s with a dominant American orientation which was introduced by academicians trained mainly in American universities.
Presently, psychology departments in fourteen universities offer undergraduate degrees and some of these departments also offer graduate degrees (M.A.'s and Ph.D.'s) in clinical, social, developmental, industrial, experimental psychology and psychometrics. Psychology courses are also widely taught in medical schools, schools of education, management, social work, nursing, dentistry and journalism. Through the continuous efforts of the Turkish Psychological Association, the scientific and professional recognition of psychology is rapidly growing in the general public, especially in areas like human resources and traffic. The new Traffic Law – which was revised with the aggressive efforts, in the Parliament, of the Association and a few members committed to the field – demands that those whose licenses have been held on three consecutive occasions, should go through a psychotechnical evaluation and a psychiatric examination. The accreditation and inspection rights for these psychotechnical laboratories and the equipment and psychologists who are working in these laboratories, were given to the Turkish Psychological Association by the Traffic Law statutes. This development marks the beginning of a new field in Turkey, traffic psychology, for which the psychology departments were caught unprepared. Health psychology is also another new field struggling to be born.
Psychological research has greatly increased in number in the last two decades. It is carried out mainly in university psychology departments or university clinics where psychologists are working. For a considerable time, this research was based mainly on test standardization and test adaptation. Presently, research is being conducted in all fields of psychology, spanning the whole spectrum of methods and content, from laboratory research conducted with computer technology on the brain to longitudinal intervention studies of early enrichment for socio-economically deprived children.
Most research is conducted in social psychology, followed by clinical and developmental psychology; testing and educational psychology. Substantial research projects span more than one field and often involve an applied emphasis. For example, recent research includes studies to design simple screening-detection instruments for developmental delay among socio-economically deprived children; to establish norms for psychosocial development; to formulate environmental indicators of healthy development at young ages; to design educational TV programs for young children (the Turkish "Sesame Street") and to assess its effects on children's cognitive development; and to utilize and test the effectiveness of group facilitation techniques in community-based women's empowerment and mother-child education programs. A promising new trend in research and theorizing is cultural/cross-cultural orientation. It is beginning to sensitize psychologists to the possible cultural variables effective in the conceptualization of the world.
In Turkey, university entrance is subject to a nation-wide competitive examination system. Placement in a department is based on a combination of the score obtained on this examination and the student's choice. Psychology departments are among the most preferred in the social sciences. Four years of undergraduate training is presently the minimum requirement for becoming a psychologist. However, there is an effort to increase this minimum requirement for independent applied work. Most psychologists (about 70% of the total) hold only an undergraduate degree. Graduate programs are offered at both masters and doctoral levels, though the numbers of students accepted are very limited, especially at the doctoral level. In general, the academic programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels are designed after those commonly seen in American universities. Practical training and internship are required for graduate programs in clinical psychology.
The first proposal for a law for the profession of psychology has been submitted to the National Assembly by the professional organization in 1984 and this process was repeated several times since it could not be discussed due to frequently changing governments. The last revised law was submitted to the Ministry of health in 1997 and it is currently being processed. As it was the case for the previously submitted laws, this one is also facing the resistance of some competing professional groups such as psychiatrists and those from the field of education. The draft law sets the requirement of a master's degree and at least one year of supervised practice for independent applied work.
Latterly, due to the governmental efforts related to Turkey's entrance into the European Union, psychology education is undergoing some revisions. The European standards for the title of "psychologist" require a masters level of training, at least for 5 years. At this point the draft law is also being revised for the title. It seems in the coming 5–10 years, the education and training for psychologists will undergo major revisions.
The Turkish Psychological Association's Statutes include reference to the ethical code and ethical rules accepted by both the American Psychological Assocation and the European Federation of Psychologists Associations (EFPA).
Turkish Journal of Psychology, 1977- , 2/year
Turkish Psychological Review, 1998- , 2/year
Turkish Psychological Bulletin, 1994- , 4/year