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Chapter 1

Chapter 1 - History of Psychology

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Carleton University
PSYC 1001
Bruce Tsuji

Philosophy, Physiology and Psychology • Psychology is derived from two greek words: “psyche” (soul, spirit, mind, as distinguished from the body) and “logos” (study of) • Greek philosophers such as Socrates, Plato andAristotle considered subjects such as the separation of mind and body, and wether knowledge is inborn or acquired • Aristotle’s theory of memory suggested that memories are a result of similarity, contrast and contiguity, and is still the basis of contemporary research on memory • In the renaissance period, Descartes argued the dualism of the mind and body, claiming that they are separate and fundamentally different. The mind was the “province of God” and that perception, memory, etc., were properties of the body • Physiologist showed that important insights could be gained into the working of the body and brain through the application of systemic and empirical methods ANew Science is Born: The Contributions of Wundt and Hall • German universities were in a healthy period of expansion and the academic climate favored the scientific approach that Wundt advocated • The first laboratory devoted to the study of psychology was established by Wundt in 1879, at the University of Leipzig • The first journal devoted to the publication of psychological research was established in 1881 • According to Wundt, the primary focus of psychology was consciousness - the awareness of immediate experience. It demanded that research methods be scientific • Many scholars studied under Wundt, and subsequently fanned out through Germany and North America, establishing research laboratories • Between 1883 and 1893, 24 new psychological research laboratories were established in North America • G. Stanley Hall established the firstAmerican psychological research laboratory in Josh Hopkins University (1883), launchedAmerica’s first psychology journal (1887), and was a driving force behind the establishment of theAmerican PsychologicalAssociation, being elected its first president The Battle of the “Schools” Begins: Structuralism vs. Functionalism • Structuralism was founded by Edward Titchener, who taught at Cornell University and was based on the notion that the task of psychology is to analyze consciousness into its basic elements and investigate how these elements are related • They wanted to examine the fundamental components of conscious experience, such as sensation, feelings and images • Their research methodology involved introspection, which is the careful, systematic self- observation of one’s own conscious experience • They trained subjects to make them more objective and more aware, subsequently exposing them to auditory and visual stimuli, and asking them to analyze what they experienced • Since this method depended on the individual’s self-reflection, there could be no independent, objective evaluation of the claim, which eventually led to the demise of structuralism • Functionalism was based in the belief that psychology should investigate the function or purpose of consciousness rather than its structure • It was founded by William James, who abandoned a medical career and pursued psychological research at Harvard University instead • James contended that consciousness served a integral purpose in the context of natural selection, in where heritable characteristics that provide a survival or reproductive advantage are more likely than alternative characteristics to be passed on to subsequent generations • He argued that the structuralist approach missed the real nature of consciousness, claiming that it is a continuos flow of thoughts, and that investigating “elements”, they were merely looking at static points in the flow • They were interested in the way that people adapted their behavior to the demands of the real world around them • They began to investigate mental testing, patterns of development in children, the effectiveness of educational practices and behavioral differences between the sexes • This led to the first women in the field of psychology (such as Margaret Washburn) • Mary W. Calkins became the first female president of theAPA WatsonAlters Psychology’s Course as Behaviorism Makes its Debut • John B. Watson established behaviorism, which is a theoretical orientation based on the premise that scientific psychology should study only observable behavior • This was adopted on the basis of verifiability, which can only be done with things that can be observed objectively. Mental processes are private events which cannot be verified • Behavior refers to any observable response or activity by an organism • Watson took an extremist approach to the “nature vs. nurture” argument, asserting that people are “made” into who they are, and are not born in that way • They attempted to relate overt behaviors to observable events in the environment, ad as such the behavioralist approach is often referred to as stimulus-response psychology • Astimulus is any detectable input from the environment • The stimulus-response approach led to the inclusion of animals in psychological research, since they no longer needed humans who can report on their mental processes, and they can exert more control over animals • Opposition came from German Gestalt theorists, who argued that psychology should continue to study conscious experience rather than overt behavior Freud Brings the Unconscious into the Picture • Freud began his career as a physician, and made the discovery that eels had testes • He treated people with irrational fears and anxieties through psychoanalysis • He gathered material by looking inward and examining his own anxieties • The unconscious contains thoughts, memories, and desires that are well below the surface of conscious awareness but that nonetheless exert great influence on behavior • Psychoanalytic theory attempts to explain personality, motivation, and mental disorders by focusing on unconscious determinants of behavior • He proposed that behavior is greatly
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