The history of the institute

In 2017, the Institute of Psychology of the Czech Academy of Sciences celebrated 50 years from its foundation. Institute of Psychology of the former Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences (CSAV) in Prague with a branch in Brno was founded on 1. 4. 1967.

The Institute was founded by combining two departments:

  1. The shared department of Institute of Psychology of Charles University and the Jan Amos Komensky Institute of Pedagogy of CSAV. This department specialised in general and social psychology and it was originally founded in 1957 from the initiative of prof. PhDr. Jan Dolezal and prof. PhDr. Otokar Chlup as a first step toward future independent psychological institution in CSAV.
  2. The department of pedagogical and developmental psychology of Jan Amos Komensky Institute of Pedagogy of CSAV.

These two departments also became the foundation of Social Psychology and Psychology of Learning Departments of the independent Institute. A new Department of Personality Psychology was also founded.

The first director of the Institute of Psychology of ČSAV was prof. PhDr. et RNDr. Vladimír Tardy, who was also the head of the Department of Personality Psychology. He was discharged from the directorial seat in the beginning of 1970’s during the purge at the beginning of the so-called normalisation. After that, he was also send to retirement and in 1977 became one of the signatories of Charta 77.profesor PhDr. Vilém Chmelař

In 1. 1. 1970, the Brno branch became Psychological laboratory of CSAV. Its director became prof. PhDr. Vilem Chmelar. The two institutions, one in Brno and one in Prague, professionally cooperated but were independent. The scientific topics, which were researched at the Institute of Psychology and at the Psychological laboratory, were determined by the so-called "State plan of basic research".

The Institute of Psychology of CSAV organised during the 70’s and 80’s several international conferences on a wide range of topics pertaining to the psychology of learning. The last of these conferences specialising on a topic of mental development took place in Prague in 1991.

The Institute of Psychology became, since its foundation, also a publisher of a journal entitled Czechoslovak psychology with a subtitle "journal for psychological theory and practice". The journal was published since 1957 and since the foundation of the Institute they are closely interconnected. The year 2003 was already forty-seventh in an uninterrupted line of publishing. Of course, the journal mirrors the professional and social development in the field as well as in our country within the last 50 years.

In 1983, the Psychological laboratory of CSAV in Brno was along with other social scientific departments incorporated into the Institute for Research of Social Cognition as a psychological department. At the request of the head of the Laboratory, it was linked to the Institute of Psychology of CSAV in Prague in spring 1990.

The social changes after Autumn of 1989 meant also the foundation of scientific council as an important democratic component in organisation of scientific work, opening the institute to the world, international cooperation, free choice of researched topics and open scientific discussion. On the other hand, it also meant strong reduction in number of employees and termination of some of the departments during the several stages of transformation through which CSAV and later AV CR went through.

During the evaluation of the past, it is important to state that despite the ideological pressure from within and without, which led to the deformation of topics as well as people, both academical psychological institutions, whose sole aim was basic research, succeeded in doing psychology as a scientific discipline on a professional level of high quality. Works and publications developed, which withstood the test of time. This is related especially to the research in the regions of cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, social psychology and personality psychology.

On the verge between 1992 and 1993 in accordance with the dissolution of federal state and the foundation of independent of Czech republic, the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences (CSAV) was transformed into the Academy of Science of Czech Republic (AV CR). In 1993, in relation to the change of leadership within Institute of Psychology AV CR, the directorial seat was moved to Brno. Since then, there were two branches of the Institute in Prague (branch related to the research on stress was disbanded and its researches were transferred into Ministry of Defence).
Since 2003, there are four departments whose members are employees both from Prague and Brno: the Department of Personality Psychology, Department of Cognitive Psychology, Department of Health Psychology and Department of Methodology of Psychology. These departments determine and characterize the main areas of research realised at the Institute of Psychology of Academy of Sciences of Czech Republic.