Chapter 1 – The Evolution of Psychology
- Use of scientific methods to help explain behaviour.
- Psych. is also about how people are able to perceive colour, how hunger is regulated by the
brain, whether chimpanzees can use language to communicate...
Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) “Founder of Psychology”
“Physiology informs us about those life phenomena that we perceive by our external senses. In
psych, the person looks upon himself as from within and tries to explain the interrelationships of
those processes that this internal observation discloses.”
- Wanted to make psych. an independent discipline rather than a stepchild of philosophy or
- Est. first formal lab for research in psychology at the University of Leipzig in 1879.
- Said the new psych. should be a science modelled after fields such as physics and chem.
- Psych’s primary focus > consciousness (the awareness of immediate experience). Focus on the
mind and mental processes.
G. Stanley Hall (1846-1924)
- Studied briefly w Wundt.
*Contributor to the rapid growth of psychology in America.
- America’s first research lab @ Johns Hopkins University in 1883.
- 1887, he launched America’s first psychology journal.
- 1892, driving force behind the American Psychological Assoc. (APA) and was elected first
Though psychology was born in Germany, it blossomed into adolescence in America.
The Battle of the “Schools” Begins: Structuralism vs. Functionalism
Structuralism: the task of psych. is to analyze consciousness into its basic elements and
investigate how these elements are related.
- Structuralists want to identify and examine the fundamental components of conscious
experience, such as sensations, feelings, and images.
- Introspection – the careful, systematic self-observation of one’s own conscious experience. Chapter 1 – The Evolution of Psychology
Functionalism: based on the belief that psychology should investigate the function or purpose of
consciousness, rather than its structure.
William James (1842-1910) Func.
“It is just free water of consciousness that psychologists resolutely overlook.”
- American scholar.
- Formal training in medicine, but did not find medicine to be intellectually challenging.
- Landmark book “Principles of Psychology” (1890), became standard reading for generations of
psychologists and is perhaps the most influential text in the history of psychology.
- Illustrates how psych. like any field, is deeply embedded in a network of cultural and
- Impressed with Darwin’s theory of natural selection, which suggests that the typical
characteristics of a species must serve some purpose.
- Noted that consciousness is an important characteristics of our species.
- Psych. should investigate the functions rather than the structure of consciousness.
- Argued that the structuralists’ approach missed the real nature of conscious experience...
consists of a continuous flow of thoughts. In analyzing consciousness into its “elements,” the
structuralists were looking at static points in that flow. James wanted to understand the flow
itself, which he called the stream of consciousness.
- Functionalists are more interested in how people adapt their behaviour to the demands of the
real world around them.
- Mental testing, patterns of development in children, the effectiveness of educational practices,
and behavioural differences between the sexes.
Behaviourism – is a theoretical orientation based on the premise that scientific psychology
should study only observable behaviour.
Watson (1913, 1919)
“The time seems to have come when psychology must discard all references to consciousness.”
- Proposed that psychologists abandon the study of consciousness altogether and focus
exclusively on behaviours that they could observe directly.
- The power of the scientific method rested on the idea of verifiability. Chapter 1 – The Evolution of Psychology
- For Watson, mental processes were not a proper subject for scientific study because they are
ultimately private events.
- Behaviour – any overt (observable) response or activity by an organism.
- In the nature vs. Nurture debate, Watson argued that each is made, not born; maintaining that
behaviour is governed primarily by the environment.
- Stimulus is any detectable input from the environment.
- Russian psychologist.
- Taught that dogs could be trained to salivate in response to an auditory stimulus such as a tone.
- Behaviourism’s stimulus-response approach contributed to the rise of animal research in
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) Brings the Unconscious into the Picture
- Austrian physician.
- His approach to psych. grew out of his efforts to treat mental disorders > Psychoanalysis.
- According to Freud, the unconscious contains thoughts, memories ,and desires that are well
below the surface of conscious awareness but that nonetheless exert great influence on
- Eventually concluded that psychological disturbances are largely caused by personal conflicts
existing at an unconscious level.
- His psychoanalytic theory attempts to explain personality, motivation, and mental disorders by
focusing on unconscious determinants of behaviour.
- Behaviour is greatly influenced by how people cope with their sexual desires.
Skinner Questions Free Will as Behaviourism Flourishes
“I submit that what we call the behaviour of the human organism is no more free than its
- Skinner was influenced by Watson’s methodological behaviourism and by Pavlov’s work on
conditional reflexes, he eventually developed a system based on his own philosophy of radical
behaviourism that represented a departure from earlier forms of behaviourism and neo-
behaviourism. Chapter 1 – The Evolution of Psychology
- Redefined internal, mental events as private events. He noted that these private events are much
ore difficult to study and much of his own science of behaviour is based on public observable
- Emphasized how environmental factors mould behaviour.
- Though he repeatedly acknowledged that an organism’s behaviour is influenced by its
biological endowment, he argued that psychology could understand and predict behaviour
adequately without resorting to physiological explanations.
- Organisms tend to repeat responses that lead to positive outcomes, and they tend not to repeat
responses that lead to neutral or negative outcomes.
- Behaviour is fully governed by external stimuli. I.e. Your behaviour is determined in
predictable ways by lawful principles, just as the flight of an arrow is governed by the laws of
*Free will is an illusion.
- In a 1990 survey, 93 chairpersons of psychology departments ranked B.F. Skinner as the most
important contributor to psychology.
The Humanists Revolt
- By the 1950s, behaviourism and psychoanalytic theory had become the most influential schools
of thought in psychology.
- Humanism is a theoretical orientation that emphasizes the unique qualities of humans,
especially their freedom and their potential for personal growth.
- Humanists take an optimistic view of human nature. They maintain that people are not pawns
of either their animal heritage or environmental circumstances.
Carl Rogers (1902-1987) and Abraham Maslow (1908-1970)
“It seems to me that at bottom each person is asking, “Who am I, really? How can I get in touch
with this real self, underlying all my surface behaviour? How can I become yourself?”
- Rogers argued that human behaviour is governed primarily by each individual’s sense of self,
or “self-concept” – which animals presumably lack.
- Both Rogers and Maslow maintained that to fully understand people’s behaviour, psychologists
must take into account the fundamental human drive toward personal growth.
- To date, the humanists’ greatest contribution to psychology has probably been their innovative
treatments for psychological problems and disorders. Chapter 1 – The Evolution of Psychology
Perspective and Its Principal Contributors Subject Matter Basic Premise
Behavioural (1913- John B. Watson Effects of Only observable
present) Ivan Pavlov environment on the events (stimulus-
B. F. Skinner overt behaviour of response
humans and animals. relationships) can be
Psychoanalytic (1900- Sigmund Freud Unconscious Unconscious motives
present) Carl Jung determinants of and experiences in
Alfred Adler behaviour. early childhood
and mental disorders.
Humanistic (1950s- Carl Rogers Unique aspects of Humans are free,
present) Abraham Maslow human experience. rational beings with
the potential for
personal growth, and
Cognitive (1950s- Jean Piaget Thoughts; mental Human behaviour
present) Noam Chomsky processes. cannot be fully
Herbert Simon understood without
people acquire, store,
Biological (1950s- James Olds Physiological basis of An organism’s
present) Roger Sperry behaviour in humans functioning can be
David Hubel and animals. explained in terms of
Torsten Wiesel the bodily structures