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Lecture 8

PSYC85H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: James Mckeen Cattell, Walter Dill Scott, Lightner Witmer

Course Code
Michelle Hilscher

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PSYC85: Lecture 8 July 9th, 2014
Chapter 13
The Divide: Basic and Applied Psychology
There was a divide between Germany and States in terms of psychology
oGerman tradition was basic psychology
Basic psychology  Pure and fundamental science aimed to describe laws governing human behaviour
Example: Wundt psychology dealt with understanding the basics of human mind
o“New” (applied) psychology in America was increasingly applied
Applied psychology  Scientific problems of psychology to solve practical everyday problems
Applied psychology is overshadowing basic psychology and gains public approval (e.g. education)
Example: Education psychology where they applied theories and classical conditioning
theories into the classroom to improve students’ work and learning (basically revamped the
curriculum and changed policies)
Example: Abnormal psychology
William James
William James (1842 – 1910) goes to Germany due to back pain, goes to a spa and by chance met Wundt  Became
inspired to make psychology a science
Impact on the Institution
After he returns from Germany, he became an instructor at Harvard
Felt that psychologists may be able to help society via prediction and control of behaviour
Instructor of physiology at Harvard (1872), where he received funds to establish a ‘demo’ lab
o‘Demo’ = Not actually collecting data or testing anything but basically to help popularize infrastructure and the
methods of psychology – more on methodology
oThis consisted of “a metronome, a device for whirling a frog, a horopter chart, and one or two bits of
Principles of Psychology: Book about how to do research – got a lot of praise but ironically, his ‘inspiration’ Wundt
criticized it a lot calling it simply “literature”
James’s Metaphysical Society: Impact on Scholarship
Early 1870s, meetings organized by James with the purpose to discuss philosophical problems of the day
oBasically laying the groundwork for the discipline
(1) Epistemological questions  Questions about what is knowledge? What is truth?

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(2) The relationship between science and religion  Should there even be a relationship between them? How do
you integrate them?
(3) The relationship between ‘new’ and ‘old’ psychology  Difference between German and American psychology
Integral concept formalized by this group: Pragmatism – 3 Tenants:
i) Intelligent practice (actions that make money) are the product of our ability to theorize
ii) If you have a theory, treat it as being a roadmap to life – Question is whether it leads to the truth or leads you
off track
iii) According to Pragmatists, “true theories” will pay off (have cash value) and is profitable – Anything that makes
money is the only thing that works
Does Pragmatism Promote Good Scholarship?
Good Scholarship  Defined as gaining better understanding of the world
oThe more you know, closer you are to understanding everything
The scientific process of theory building serves two goals:
oFor basic researchers: Good scholarship drives them to want to explain the world
What is true in the world (What is?)
oFor applied researchers: Good scholarship drives them to want to control one aspect of the world
What works?
True Theory: Explains every single aspect of the world as psychologists
The Pragmatist only explains a silver of the aspect
oThis is a drawback because they think ‘because this works, no other works at all’ – Which is a really narrow,
black and white way of thinking
oThey think only one idea pays off and that’s the only answer – But really, just because a theory is profitable, it
may not mean it’s true
James’ Principles of Psychology
1. Human behaviour is often habitual and unconscious (triggered by some condition in the environment)
oThis makes humans efficient
oHabits aren’t locked in
oMake automatic and habitual as early as possible, as many useful actions as you can.
2. Human actions are often instinct-driven
oBut not always – it’s mostly instinctual until…

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oSome novel situation comes in  The conscious mind comes in to figure out how to handle it
oConscious mind decides what pre-learned habit fits best and is active during transitions when environment
demands new actions
Therefore, habits aren’t permanent and locked
3. The mind is self-conscious
i) The Material Self: All things that you call your own (e.g. Physical things like house, assets, body, etc.)
Things that lose and gain importance to you as you grow (i.e. What’s important to you at 5, isn’t
important at 20)
Material elements such as these help make you who you are
ii) The Social Self: Who you are with others – who you identify in terms of your relationships
Multiple social selves and identities exist depending on your relationship with them  Could be a lot of
Example: You wouldn’t act the same way with your daughter as you would with your best
iii) The Spiritual Self: The journey that you’re on – private memories, experiences, imagination
This fuels your self-esteem – as measured by the equation James invented
Self Esteem=Successful Actions
Goals /Hopes
Hugo Münsterberg
German psychologist who originally studied with Wundt at Leipzig
Came from Germany to Harvard – Had a hard time adjusting due to the cultural shift
oJames convinced Münsterberg to join him at Harvard
1. A great popularizer of psychology in America
oExamples: Published books, expositions, magazine articles, all on practical/socially relevant topics
2. Developed applied side of psychology
oExamples: Psychotherapy, forensic psychology, and industrial psychology
Münsterberg’s Applied Psychology
In society: A troubled population (i.e. Phobias, obsessions, alcoholism, sexual problems)
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