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(psychotechnics), a branch of psychology that dealt with the application of psychology to the solution of practical problems, particularly those related to human labor. The content and methods of this discipline are close to those of industrial psychology.

Psychotechnology originated in the early 20th century; the term itself was proposed in 1903 by the German psychologist W. Stern. In 1908 the German psychologist H. Münsterberg attempted to establish the scientific foundations of psychotechnology by delineating its content and methods. Psychotechnology sought to resolve various problems, including vocational selection, consultation, and training. It also dealt with industrial efficiency, measures to combat fatigue and accidents, the creation of psychologically sound designs for machines and instruments, mental hygiene, the psychology of persuasion (particularly by posters, advertisements, and movies), psychotherapy, and the psychology of art.

Psychotechnology underwent intensive development during World War I, when personnel selection for the army and military industries became a crucial issue. This led to the extensive use of testing. Differential psychology became the theoretical foundation of psychotechnology. Psychotechnology developed rapidly in the 1920’s and the first half of the 1930’s. A number of specialized journals were published, including the Soviet Psikhofiziologiia truda i psikhotekhnika (Psychophysiology of Labor and Psychotechnology, 1928–32), which in 1932 became Sovetskaia psikhotekhnika (Soviet Psychotechnology). Psychotechnische Zeitschrift began publication in Germany in 1925.

The term “psychotechnology” gradually became less and less used in psychology literature. Psychotechnology and its problems and methods came to be included in industrial psychology, engineering psychology, and applied psychology.


Münsterberg, H. Osnovy psikhotekhniki, 2nd ed., parts 1–2. Moscow, 1924–25. (Translated from German.)
Baumgarten, F. Psikhotekhnika, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1926.
Gellershtein, S. G. Psikhotekhnika. [Moscow] 1926.
Levitov, N. D. Psikhotekhnika i professional’naia prigodnost’. Moscow, 1928.
Rukovodstvo po psikhotekhnicheskomu professional’nomu podboru. Edited by I. N. Shpil’rein. Moscow-Leningrad, 1929.
Giese, F. Theorie der Psychotechnik. Braunschweig, 1925.


References in periodicals archive ?
Siegelbaum, "Okhrana Truda: Industrial Hygiene, Psychotechnics, and Industrialization in the USSR," in Health and Society in Revolutionary Russia, 224-45; Alexandre Etkind, "Lessor et 1'echec du mouvement 'Paidologique': De la psychanalyse au 'Nouvel homme de masse,' Cahiers du monde russe et sovietique 33, 4 (1992): 387-418; Martin Miller, Freud au pays des soviets, trans.
(11) In the nineteenth century, in accordance with the establishment of the general principle of conservation of energy, which asserts that all the forces of nature (electricity, magnetism, heat, and mechanical work) are forms of a single universal energy, the human body was re-conceptualized as a thermodynamic machine, and its work as a metaphor of "physiochemical exchange." Social energetism, "human motor," muscular thermodynamics, Helmholtzianism, physiology of the labor, ergonomics, psychotechnics, and Taylorization configured the body as a system of economies of force and a focal point for new techniques of production.
Or, as Walter Benjamin put it, "Film makes test performances capable of being exhibited, by turning that ability itself into a test." For Benjamin, the psychotechnics used to assess the qualifications of the individual worker bore a significant structural resemblance to the psychotechnics of filmmaking, wherein the recording technology itself assumes the role of assessor, taking the measure of an actor's affective labor.