New Laws


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New legislation. Just as psychological research responds to social changes, so it also responds to new legislation. Examples include changes to legislation on health and safety, on discrimination in training and selection, and on treatment of, and facilities for, people with mental health problems. This relationship is not one-way – psychologists have influenced public policy in a number of areas in recent years, for instance, in censorship and the child maltreatment. Two pieces of legislation can be linked to early developments in psychology: 1890: The Lunacy Act was passed in the UK (the Act has been linked to the formation of the British Psychological Society). At around the same time similar legislation was enacted across Europe and the USA to regulate the treatment of the insane. 1876-1900: Education Acts: Compulsory education was introduced first in England, then at the turn of the century in France. Along with compulsory education came a perceived need for mental tests of children (first developed by Alfred Binet and his collaborator Théodor Simon in France), and a market for psychological data on education. Later laws regulating, for instance, re-training and industrial law, influenced the development of occupational psychology. More recently, debates and legislation on stem cell research illustrate the direct impact laws can have on research.