Each of the five weekday mornings had a symposium, and each afternoon had a session of individual papers. Because the attendance was small, all sessions were plenary and there were no parallel sessions. The languages employed at the congress and in the proceedings volume were English, French, and German.
The first symposium, chaired by Professor Godfrey H. Thompson of the University of Newcastle, was on “The nature of general intelligence and ability.” In addition to Thompson, participants in the symposium were Dr Edouard Claparède of Geneva and Dr Louis L. Thurstone of the Bureau of Public Personnel Administration, Washington, DC. The place of this symposium at the start of the congress reflects the interest in measurement of intelligence that had grown during and after the war. Further evidence of this interest was the resolution passed by the members of the congress at the closing meeting to appoint an international committee on intelligence and intelligence tests, in order to review and distribute tests, to establish a clearing house for information, and if possible to publish a yearbook and handbooks on intelligence testing.
The third symposium was entitled “The conception of nervous and mental energy” and was organized by the eminent Oxford neurophysiologist Charles S. Sherrington. Cambridge neurophysiologist Edgar D. Adrian summarized research on the nerve impulse and asked whether psychologists would be able to develop an equally useful concept of “mental energy.” London neurologist Henry Head discussed concepts of vigilance.
In the fourth symposium, “The classification of the instincts,” Edinburgh psychology professor James Drever urged a behavioral, biological viewpoint, whereas London psychoanalyst Ernest Jones defended the Freudian view.
The final symposium, “The principles of vocational guidance,” had participants from England, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States. Along with the first symposium and several individual papers, it reflected the emphasis of the 7th congress on applications of psychology.
Individual papers by Wolfgang Köhler and Kurt Koffka of Germany and G. Révész of the Netherlands reported on research on Gestalt psychology, the first time this topic was discussed at an international congress of psychology. Classification of the topics of communications showed physiological psychology in the lead, followed by industrial and military psychology (Montoro González, 1982 , p. 149). The prominence of industrial and military psychology was understandable both because of the recency of the World War and also because of the interests of the President of the congress, Charles Myers, in this field.
As Montoro González (1982 , p. 151) summarized it, the 7th congress showed psychology steadily developing its own identity and becoming more and more independent from philosophy, on the one hand, and from physiology, on the other. The general tendency was for a functional psychology, more dynamic than structural, more psychobiological than psychophysical, more empirical than logical, and moving rapidly toward applications.