It is part of the history of ELTE Institute of Psychology that its predecessors are responsible for preserving the continuity of the academic cultivation of Psychology.
The academic history of Psychology started a little more than a hundred years ago at the Faculty of Medicine. Two Psychological Laboratories have been established here: Pál Ranschburg’s Psychophysiology Lab and the Psychology Lab of Géza Révész, who was also a lecturer in Experimental Psychology. For a short time following (under the Soviet Republic) Sándor Ferenczi and Lajos Székely, two of the significant figures of Psychoanalysis have had positions at the Psychology department. Later on, they were pressured into leaving the country on political grounds: Géza Révész relocated to Amsterdam, while Székely moved to Stockholm where they both had a successful scientific career.
Gyula Kornis was a prominent figure of the period between the two World Wars, and he has already had a teaching position at Pázmány Péter University at the time. In addition to his substantial body of work, it is worth mentioning that he authored the first Psychological textbook for Secondary School students. He was a member of the University Institute of Psychology, founded in the middle of the 1930s, where Pál Harkai Schiller and the then-intern Ferenc Lénárd carried out substantive experimental work.
After the War – at the time of prosperity for the discipline – Lajos Kardos has joined the education board of the University. It is thanks to him that despite the political climate of the 1950s Hungary (the Psychology programme was discontinued and the departments merged into the Faculty of Pedagogy), this area of science could be revived again in the 60s and the academic programme resumed. Ilona Barkóczi has been conducting outstanding scientific research at the Kardos-department, and her contributions to the education of Psychology revolutionised the training of Psychologists. Following professor Kardos’ retirement, two associate departments were established: the so-called Barkóczi-Putnoky-department for General Psychology and the Developmental Psychology department lead by Jenő Salamon.
It is thanks to Zsuzsanna Kulcsár, lecturer of the General Psychology Department that an experimental-general psychological approach to Personality Psychology and Humanistic Psychology began to get increased emphasis in the 1970s. From the late 70s, with the arrival of György Hunyady to the Developmental Psychology Department, courses in Social Psychology were introduced. At the end of the decade in the spirit of restoring ELTE, the Faculty of Psychology moved from Pesti Barnabás Street to Izabella Street. Following the move, there was a transformation in the organisational structure, whereby two professional working teams – a Personality Psychology and a Social Psychology team – were formed. Over the years, these teams evolved into Departments of the University.
The Institute of Psychology was established in 1983, led by professor Sándor Illyés. This has brought on a new organisational structure: new departments were formed and leadership changes were made. The five new organisational units: the General Psychology Department (lead by Csaba Pléh), the Social and Educational Psychology Department (lead by György Hunyady), the Personality and Clinical Psychology Department (lead by Zsuzsa Kulcsár) and Mrs. Pál Ritoók’s professional team of Career Socialization and Work Psychology. This time is marked by the formation of new professional workshops, including:
- Éva Bányai’s Hypnosis Lab
- György Hunyady’s Prejudice and Stereotypes Research Team
- Magda Kalmár’s Cognitive and Developmental Research Workshop
- Zsuzsanna Kulcsár’s Health Psychology Work Team
- Porkolábné Balogh Katalin’s School Psychology Work Team
- the Cognitive ’Circle’ of Csaba Pléh
- the Psychological Counselling Service of Higher Education introduced by Magda Ritóok.
At the start of the 90s, education reform was introduced at the Faculty of Humanities as part of the higher education reforms of the time. The introduction of these reforms has been realised between 1990 and 1992 with great effort, while György Hunyadi was Dean of the Faculty.
As a result of the organizational, economic and infrastructural changes at ELTE and the Faculty of Humanities, the professional teams of the Psychology Department once again formed an Institute by 1998. The only change in the organizational structure was the renewal of the Personality and Clinical Psychology Department that has changed into the Personality and Health Psychology Department, thanks to the works of Zsuzsanna Kulcsár and her colleagues, who have introduced the perspectives of Health Psychology to the field.
The next big organizational transformation came around after the turn of the millennium. As part of the Government’s higher educational integration initiative as a significant developmental step within the organization, the departmental structure of ELTE transformed and by September 1st, 2003 the Faculty of Pedagogy and Psychology has started operations.
The appearance of the specialty in the name of the new faculty marks the prestige and impact of the field. There were some changes in the organizational units of the Institute as well: on the one hand, new independent units formed out of the professional working teams and workshops, on the other hand, the Teacher Training College was discontinued due to accommodating its psychology teachers into the Institute. The Institute of Psychology was led by György Hunyady at this period, followed by Attila Oláh between 2006 and 2010 and proceeded by Zsolt Demetrovics who is presently leading the Institute since 2011.
The Institute significantly changed in the fall of 2011. The former institutional centres became departments and numerous departmental professional work teams were formed as well, showing the multidirectional specialization of the institutional work. Besides, the Clinical Psychology and Addictology Department split away from the Personality and Health Psychology Department and the former Economic and Decision Psychology Centre transformed (it became the Economic and Environmental Psychology Department), furthermore the field of Developmental Psychology was renewed with broadened perspectives in clinical psychology and it became the Developmental and Clinical Child Psychology Department.