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The study of the psychology of races or ethnic groups.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a discipline that studies the psychology and behavior of the people of a particular ethnic community.

The principal objects of study of ethnopsychology are tribes, peoples, and nations, as well as specific population groups that are ethnically related, such as groups of immigrants. Ethnopsychological research attempts to establish the relation between the characteristics of the psyche of members of the communities being studied, on the one hand, and the type of economic activity engaged in under specific natural conditions and the character of nonmaterial culture (for example, traditions and religious beliefs), on the other. For the most part, such research takes the form of empirical studies and comparative descriptions.

Ethnopsychology, whose emergence was associated with the development of ethnography and anthropology, initially turned to the reports of missionaries and travelers for its data. W. Wundt, in his works on the psychology of peoples, made the first attempt at a genuine psychological analysis of this material. Although he relied on the incorrect, idealist premise that a people has a special, substantive soul, he established the general cultural-historical orientation of research in the field of ethnopsychology.

In many countries, particularly the USA, Freudian and neo-Freudian approaches to ethnopsychology have gained currency (see). The development of ethnopsychology has been influenced by research in related fields, especially linguistics and sociology. Linguists have investigated the mode of thought of peoples who belong to different language groups. Sociology has provided ethnopsychology with various research techniques, in particular, techniques for studying small groups.

Ethnopsychology, which has not established the existence of any special characteristics or features that allow one to speak of the superiority of some peoples to others, has fostered criticism of nationalist and racist theories.


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Porshnev, B. F. Sotsial’naiapsikhologiia i istoriia. Moscow, 1966.
Korolev, S. I. Voprosy etnopsikhologii v rabotakh zarubezhnykh avtorov (na materialiakh stran Azii). Moscow, 1970.
Kozlov, V. I., and G. V. Shelepov. “’Natsional’nyi kharakter’ i problemy ego issledovaniia.” Sovetskaia etnografiia, 1973, no. 2.
Gregg, F. M. People’s Psychology: Psychology’s Path to Personality. New York, 1951.
Duijker, H. C. J., and N. H. Frijda. National Character and National Stereotypes. Amsterdam, 1960.
Griéger, P. La Charactérologie éthnique: Approche et compréhension des peuples. Paris, 1961.
[Handbook of Social and Cultural Anthropology.] Edited by J. J. Honigmann. Chicago, 1973.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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