Stephanie Oliveira 1
Module 1: The Story of Psychology
What Is Psychology?
Psychological Science is born
In 1879, two men were helping Wilhelm Wundt, created an experimental
apparatus in Germany.
Their machine measure the time lag between people’s hearing a ball hit a
platform and their pressing a telegraph key. People responded in about one-
tenth of a second when asked to press the key as soon as the sound occurred-
and in about two-tenths of a second when asked to press it when they were
consciously aware of perceiving the sound.
Wundt was seeking to measure “atoms of the mind”—The fastest and
simplest mental processes.
Before long, this new science of psychology became organized into different
branches. Two early branches were structuralism and functionalism.
Wundt’s student Edward Bradford Titchener aimed to discover the minds
structure so he engaged people in self-reflective introspection (looking
inward), training people to report elements of their experience while being
distracted by something else.
Introspection was somewhat unreliable and the results differed from person
Wundt ended up writing his own textbook, which he started in 1878, with an
apology for the new science of psychology. It took his 12 years to write.
William James- inspired by Charles Darwin, James assumed that thinking,
like smelling, developed because it was adaptive. Consciousness serves a
function. As a functionalist, James encourages explorations of emotions,
memories, willpower, habitats, and streams of consciousness.
Mary Whiton Calkins- mentored by James, who became a pioneering
memory researcher and was the first women to be president of the American
Margaret Floy Washburn- First women to receive a psychology Ph.D.,
Washburn synthesized animal behavior research in The Animal Mind, a book
that she wrote.
Psychological Science Develops.
William James engaged introspective examination of the stream of
consciousness and of emotion. For these and other pioneers, psychology was
defined as “the science to mental life.”
In the 1920’s, John B. Watson and later, B.F Skinner, dismissed introspective
and redefined psychology as the “scientific study of observable behavior.”
Many agreed, and the behaviorists were one of the two major forces in
psychology well into the 60s.
Behaviorism: the view that psychology should (1) be an objective science
that (2) studies behavior without reference to mental processes. Most
psychologists today agree with (1) but not (2). Freudian Psychology: emphasized the ways our unconscious thought
processes and our emotional responses to childhood experiences affect our
Two humanistic psychologists, Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, found
both Freudian and behaviorism too limiting.
Rather than focusing on memories or conditioned responses, the humanistic
psychology draws attention to ways that current environmental influences
can nurture or limit our growth potential, and to the importance of having
our needs for love and acceptance satisfied.
Cognitive Psychology- scientifically explores the ways we perceive, process
and remember information
Cognitive Neuroscience- is an interdisciplinary study, which has enriched
our understanding of the brain activity underlying mental activity.
The cognitive approached, which was derived during the 1960s, has given us
new ways to understand ourselves and to treat disorders such as depression.
Psychology- The science of behavior and mental processes. Psychology is a
Behavior- anything an organism does—any action we can observe and
record such as yelling, blinking, smiling etc.
Mental Processes- the internal, subjective experiences we infer from
behaviour such as sensations, perceptions, dreams etc.
Today’s psychology are citizens of many lands.
In China, the first university of psychology department began in 1978; in
2008, there were almost 200.
What is psychology’s historic big issue?
Are our human traits present at birth, or do they develop through experience?
Nature-nurture issue- Plato assumed that we inherit character and
intelligence and t