History of the EPS: Publications

‘Background to the Proposed Society’ (unsigned but almost certainly by OLZ) regretted the absence of a British outlet for ‘papers embodying either the results of scientific enquiries within the field of psychology, and related subjects, or discussions of the significance of ascertained facts.’ At first the cost of publishing a journal was an obstacle. The Minutes of the preliminary meeting record: ‘Oldfield stated that the possibility of starting a new printed psychological journal of so limited an appeal was negligible at present.’ Instead, mimeographed or photostat Reports were envisaged.

Then, at a business meeting at Oxford in July 1947, there occurred what Zangwill later (op. cit.) described as ‘By far the most exciting event in the early history of the EPS’: the Honorary Secretary announced that the Group had received, from a member who wished to remain anonymous, a benefaction for the purpose of founding a journal.The Committee Report for 1946-7 shows that the sum was £1000, sufficient to run a small journal for at least five years. In his 1967 account Zangwill reveals that the benefactor was C. Grindley. My understanding from conversations with Oliver Zangwill and Valerie Townsend is that C had inherited some £30,000 from the elderly widow of Professor A. P. Chattock, a friend of C’s from his Bristol days.Chattock’s health had led him to give up his university work and take up chicken farming.He and C had become interested in chicken behaviour and this had influenced C’s move from physics to psychology.

The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology commenced publication in April, 1948 under the editorship of first Carolus Oldfield and then Russell Davis.For many years the publishers were Heffers of Cambridge and in the 1970’s, in the combination room of Corpus Christi, old Reuben Heffer recounted to me how, as a younger man in the family firm, he had had the task of preparing the Quarterly for the printers. After 20 volumes, in 1969, publication passed to Academic Press, who offered a more international marketing operation; and from 1981 onwards the journal was divided into Section A, covering Human Experimental Psychology, and Section B, covering Comparative and Physiological Psychology. In 1984 the journal was transferred again, to what was at the time Lawrence Erlbaum Associates and is now the Psychology Press imprint.

It must be recognized that over the years the profits from the Quarterly Journal have been a major source of the Society’s financial security.Already by 1972 the income from the journal (£1,735) exceeded the editorial expenses and the cost of supplying copies to members. We should acknowledge our debt both to C. Grindley for his original gift and to the many Editors, members of the Editorial Board, referees and authors, who have given their unpaid time to sustain the journal for almost 50 years.

The Society’s publications are not limited to the Quarterly Journal. In the early 1960’s the EPS published two important monographs in an intended series of ‘Experimental Psychology Monographs’.These were:

No. 1. The Methods and Results of Experiments on the Discrimination of Shape by Animals By N. S. Sutherland. 1961
No. 2. Recovery from Early Blindness: A Case Study By R. L. Gregory and J. G. Wallace. 1963

In 1978 the Society published:
E. H. Weber: The Sense of Touch By H. E. Ross and D. J. Murray, Academic Press, London and New York.

This work contains translations of Weber’s De Tactu and Der Tastsinn. It rescues from distinguished obscurity not only Weber’s experiments on hefted weights but also his remarks on countless aspects of perceptual psychology, such as the moon illusion, left-right asymmetry, visual resolution, binocular combination of colours, summation, inhibition and adaptation, selective attention and the externalization of sensation.A second edition has recently been published by the Society as:
E. H. Weber on the Tactile Senses By H. E. Ross and D. J. Murray.Erlbaum (UK) Taylor & Francis, Hove, 1995.

A one-day meeting organised in Oxford by the Experimental Psychology gave rise to Parallel Distributed Processing, a volume edited by R. G. M. Morris and published by the Clarendon Press, 1989.

  1. History of the EPS: Beginnings
  2. History of the EPS: Meetings
  3. History of the EPS: Overseas Contacts
  4. History of the EPS: Publications
  5. History of the EPS: Membership
  6. Reflections on the Early Days: Past Perceptions
  7. Reflections on the Early Days: The EPS and the EPG
  8. Reflections on the Early Days: ‘….such a light blue tinge’
  9. Oral History
  10. List of EPS Officers and Committee Members