Prof. Dr. Wofgang Metzger, former president of the German Psychological Association (DGPs), and Dr. Martin Cremer, director of the Institute for Documentation (IDW), encouraged the foundation of an institute for psychological information and documentation.
Prof. Dr. Carl Graf Hoyos presented a planning study which served as the basis for further considerations between representatives of the DGPs, the IDW, and the Library of Saarland University. In the following period, the Commission for Information and Documentation of the DGPs, founded in 1967, continued activities to advance the subject.
In the spring of 1970, the executive committee of the DGPs, under the chairmanship of Prof. Dr. Carl Friedrich Graumann, came to the decision to establish an institute for psychology information and documentation. This decision was supported shortly thereafter by the entire executive committee of the Federation of German Psychologists' Associations and, in the fall of 1970, also by the participants of the DGPs general membership meeting. On behalf of the DPGs and in cooperation with the IDW, Prof. Dr. G. Reinert developed a strategy outlining organization and financing.
The project "Information and Documentation in Psychology" was approved. From the beginning it was called the "Zentralstelle für Psychologische Information und Dokumentation" (ZPID; Center of psychological information and documentation).
Financed by funds from the IDW (Max Planck Institute), the first five employees began working under the direction/leadership of Prof. Dr. Günther Reinert. Until the end of 1987, the ZPID was operated as a project financed by various changing sources at the University of Trier.
Prof. Dr. Leo Montada who took over the management of ZPID on a part-time basis after the early death of Günther Reinert in 1979 vigorously pursued the expansion and consolidation of the institute, thus ensuring the sustainable existence of the institution. This succeeded in the mid-1980s. After an evaluation by the Wissenschaftsrat (German Council of Science and Humanities) in 1985, ZPID was institutionalized in 1988 as the "central scientific institution" of the University of Trier. Financing was now provided within the framework of the Blue List of institutions equally funded by the states and the federal government, from which the Leibniz Association emerged in 1997.
After another review by the Wissenschaftsrat (German Council of Science and Humanities), ZPID became a founding member of the Leibniz Association in 1997. As a Leibniz Institute, it is evaluated every seven years by the Senate of the Leibniz Association.
Under the part-time management of Prof. Dr. Günter Krampen, the institute's tasks became more open to a European and international focus, and a new research area was created. The infrastructure tasks of the institute are increasingly supported by application-oriented basic research and a research profile of the institute is established.
Since January 1, 2013, ZPID is a legally independent public institution of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. It is located at the University of Trier, with which it cooperates scientifically.
From 2017 to 2021, Prof. Dr. Michael Bosnjak was the full-time director of ZPID. Since the beginning of 2022, Prof. Dr. Claudia Dalbert is director until the official successor is appointed. The institute continues to pursue the strategy established under Dr. Bosnjak's leadership of becoming a universal provider for all infrastructure needs in psychology and related disciplines by expanding and consolidating its infrastructure services as well as positioning itself as a public open science institute for psychology.