The Cold War, the International sport psychology and the ISSP

Sidónio Serpa */**

(*) University of Lisbon, Faculty of Human Kinetics, Lisbon, Portugal
(**) Lusofona University, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Lisbon, Portugal


Serpa, S. (2020). The Cold War, the International sport psychology and the ISSP. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 51(5), 409-435. doi:10.7352/IJSP.2020.51.409


The aim of this article is to document the influence of the Cold War in the development of sport psychology. This period that lasted from 1946 to 1989 determined the international social and political reality following the World War II. Information for the article was gathered from personal oral and written interaction with major protagonists, as well as others that had experienced this period. Letters between the two first ISSP presidents, minutes and documents mainly from ISSP and FEPSAC were consulted. Articles, books and book chapters related to this topic were other sources for the article that discusses the influence of the Cold War in sports, the impact of this period in the development of sport psychology, the role of ISSP, and the situation determined by the end of the Cold War. Especially after the 1956 Olympics, sport victories were used as a propaganda tool, which led to the development of sport sciences, including sport psychology, in both sides of the Iron Curtin that divided the Socialist from the Capitalist parts of the World. The inception of the ISSP in 1965 had an important role in promoting scientific and applied SP and making important bridges between professionals from the two blocs. After what was believed to be the end of the Cold War, a decrease in the development of SP both in the socialist countries and USA was observed, followed by an improvement mainly in Europe and Asia.

Keywords: history of sport psychology, cold war, ISSP