G-COE / “Center for the Study of Social Stratification and Inequality” / in charge of the “Justice and Fairness” Group
Ken-ichi Ohbuchi, Professor of Social psychology
Born in 1950 in Akita Prefecture. Graduated from Tohoku University Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts and Letters; graduated from the master’s program of the Graduate School of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University; received Ph.D. in Literature in 1996. Obtained position as Professor at Osaka Kyoiku University and subsequently became Associate Professor at Tohoku University Faculty of Arts and Letters; in 1997, became Professor at Tohoku University Faculty of Arts and Letters; present position from 2000. Area of expertise: human aggression, conflict solution, dispute settlement, social equity, and criminal psychology. From 2003, served as Chairman of the Japanese Association of Criminal Psychology, and from 2004 served as Deputy Editor of the Asian Journal of Social Psychology. Leader of the Justice and Fairness Group for the 21st Century COE (Centers of Excellence) Program’s “Center for the Study of Social Stratification and Inequality”
(2003-2007) and in the G-COE Program’s “Center for the Study of Social Stratification and Inequality” (2009 to date).
In March 15, 2010, “Research on apology ― Psychology of justification and the function” written by Professor Ohbuchi was published by the Tohoku University Press* as the first volume in the “Human and Social Sciences Library” of the Faculty/Graduate School of Arts and Letters.
According to the profile in the colophon, Professor Ohbuchi specializes in psychological analysis of human aggression and settlement of disputes. Recent works include “Japanese sense of fairness ― Is fairness the link between an individual and society?” (compiled in 2004), “Criminal psychology ― What are the causes of crime?” (2006), “The Adolescent Mind” (2006), “Social Justice in Japan” (2007), “Social Class and Inequality” (coedited in 2008), “Conflict and Dispute in Social Psychology” (2008), “Ordinary children who kill their parents ―The dangers of ordinary expectations in an ordinary family” (2009), etc. All these works are written in a style that an average reader can read and understand.
These books discuss, examine, make cross-national comparisons, verify and analyze the social psychological processes that lead people to commit violent acts, crimes, bullying, and have disputes. They include factors such as social injustice, various causes of criminal acts, stress in children, social inequality, hostility, and conflicts.
*Tohoku University Press was established in 1996 to publish research conducted at Tohoku University so that the University would be a source and driving force for research in science and the humanities. As of April 2010, more than 240 titles have been published. Some of the authors used the “Young Researchers Publication Subsidy” program to help get their works published.
What is “social psychology?”
The courses in psychology were given soon after the Tohoku University Faculty of Arts and Letters/School of Arts and Letters was established. Psychology was first established as an academic discipline in Germany and later came to Japan. It gained a strong philosophical aspect and Tohoku University first used Buddhist philosophy in much of its research and education in psychology. Subsequently, behavioristic psychology developed in the United States and was gradually introduced in the university so that psychological research and education progressed toward a more scientific approach (not based on written materials and literature) that was closer to natural science. Data is obtained from directly observing human behavior and analyzing it. In such a climate, research has continued to develop deeper into the study of social psychology.
At present, faculty members of the Tohoku University, School of Arts and Letters, Human Sciences Division, Department of Psychology are Professor Ohbuchi and Associate Professor Masahiro Tsujimoto (Social psychology), Professor Jiro Gyoba (Perceptual psychology), Professor Yoshiaki Nihei (Applied cognitive psychology), Professor Tsuneyuki Abe (Physiopsychology), and Assistant Professor Takeshi Araki (Personality psychology). Research areas cover a wide range of subjects including studies by Professor Ohbuchi which are closely related to sociology and law; other research areas are very closely related to medicine and physiology, and some are close to engineering, making full use of computers and robots, and other studies are close to anthropology. In other words, anything that human beings are involved in is a target for study.