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Chapter 1

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Chapter 1 – The Evolution of Psychology From Speculation to Science: How Psychology Developed • People better understanding themselves • As it developed, its focus, methods, and explanatory models have changed Psychology  psyche (soul, spirit, or mind) and logos (study of a subject) • Study of the mind A New Science is Born: The Contributions of Wundt and Hall • Psychology’s parents  philosophy and physiology • Scholars in both fields were exploring questions about the mind • Questions: o How are bodily sensations turned into a mental awareness of the outside world? o Are people’s perceptions of the world accurate reflections of reality? o How do mind and body interact? Wilhelm Wundt • Wilhelm Wundt (German prof) mounted a campaign to make psychology an independent discipline rather than a stepchild of philosophy or physiology • Since German universities were in a healthy period of expansion and the intellectual climate favoured the scientific approach, his proposals were well received by the academic community • In 1879, Wundt established the first formal lab for research in psychology at the University of Leipzig • Psychology’s “date of birth”  1897 • In 1881, he established the first psychology journal • He is now characterized as the founder of psychology – influential for decades • He declared that psychology should be a science modeled after fields such as physics and chemistry • He felt that psychology’s primary focus was consciousness Consciousness  the awareness of immediate experience • It was focused on the mind and mental processes – demanded that methods should be very scientific • Generated approx. 54 000 pages of books/journals in his career • Many young scholars learned from Wundt and established labs in Germany and North America (where it grew the most) • Between 1883 and 1893, approx. 24 new research labs sprang up in the US and Canada – many were started by Wundt and his students G. Stanley Hall • Studied briefly with Wundt – important contributor to the rapid growth of psychology in America • Established America’s first research lab in psychology at Johns Hopkins University in 1883 • Launched America’s first psychology journal • Established the American Psychological Association (APA) – first president o Today’s largest psychology organization • Why did America take to psychology so quickly? o Young universities were more open to new disciplines The Battle of the “Schools” Begins: Structuralism vs. Functionalism • Competing schools of thought exist in most scientific disciplines – sometimes the disagreements are sharp, but often stimulates enlightening debate • In psychology, there were two major schools of thought  structuralism and functionalism Structuralism • Emerged through leadership of Edward Titchener (English who taught in America) • Brought his own version of Wundt’s psychology to America  Based on the notion that the task of psychology is to analyze the consciousness into its basic elements and investigate how these elements are related • Structuralists wanted to identify and examine the fundamental components of conscious experience, such as sensations feelings, and images • Most of their work concerned sensation and perception in vision, hearing, and touch • Used the method of introspection  the careful, systematic self-observation of one’s own conscious experience o Required training to make the subject more objective and more aware o Subjects were exposed to auditory tones, optical illusions, and visual stimuli under carefully controlled conditions and then analyzed what they experienced o Limitations associated with the use of introspection were a factor to the demise of structuralism  If you depend solely on an individual’s reflection, there is no independent objective evaluation of that claim Functionalism  Based on the belief that psychology should investigate the function or purpose of consciousness, rather than its structure • Leader – William James (American scholar) o Formal training in medicine o Found psychology more simulating o Joined the faculty of Harvard University and became an “intellectual giant in the field” o His book “Principals of Psychology” is perhaps the most influential text in this history of psychology o Felt that psychology is embedded in a network of cultural and intellectual influences o Impressed with Charles Darwin’s natural selection o Natural selection  heritable characteristics that provide a survival or reproductive advantage are more likely than alternative characteristics to be passed on to subsequent generations and thus come to be “selected” over time o James applied this idea to humans – psychology should investigate the functions, rather than the structure of consciousness o Argued that structuralists missed the real nature of conscious experience – consists of a continuous FLOW of thoughts – analyzing into its “elements” would just be looking at static points in the flow o “stream of consciousness” o Interested in how people adapt their behaviour to the demands of the world around them • Functionalists like James McKeen Cattell and John Dewey began to investigate mental testing, patters of development in children, the effectiveness of educational practices, and behavioural differences between sexes o This attracted the first women to psychology o Mary Washburn  first woman in US to receive Ph.D in psychology- author of “The Animal Mind” o Leta Hollingworth  did important work on children’s intelligence and on women inferiority o Mary Whilton Calkins first woman president of the APA • Structuralism and functionalism were fighting for the definition and future direction of psychology • The war of ideas continued for man years – although both schools fostered the development of 2 aspects of functionalism that have dominated modern psychology o Behaviourism o Applied psychology Watson Alters Psychology’s Course as Behaviourism Makes Its Debut • The structuralism and functionalism debate was only one of many fundamental controversies in psychology • In the 1900s, behaviourism dramatically altered the course of psychology • Founded by John B. Watson Behaviourism  a theoretical orientation based on the premise that scientific psychology should study only observable behaviour • Radical change – he was proposing that psychologists abandon the study of consciousness and focus exclusively on behaviours that they could observe directly • Redefinition of psychology • He believed in the scientific method and that scientific claims can always be verified (or disapproved) by anyone who makes the required observations – this power depends on studying things that can be observed objectively • Other wise the scientific approach – replacing vague speculation and personal opinion with reliable, exact knowledge is lost • He did not believe that mental processes were a proper subject for scientific study because they are ultimately private events – no one can see or touch another’s thoughts • If psychology were to be a science, it would have to give up consciousness as its subject matter and become the science of behaviour Behaviour  refers to any overt (observable) response or activity by an organism • Watson felt that psychologists could study anything that people do or say – but they could not study scientifically the thoughts, wishes, and feelings that may accompany this behaviour • This did not end with just a redefinition of psychology’s subject matter – he had an extreme position on the nature vs. nurture Nature vs. Nurture • Concerned with whether behaviour is determined mainly be genetic inheritance (“nature”) or by environment and experience (“nurture”) • Watson downplayed the importance of heredity, maintaining that behaviour is governed primarily by the environment • Behavourists eventually came to view psychology’s mission as an attempt to relate overt behaviours (responses) to observable events in the environment (stimuli) Stimulus  any detectable input from the environment • Stimuli can range from light and sound waves to the words on this page, advertisements, remarks from a friend • Since the behaviourists investigated stimulus-response relationships, their approach is often referred to as stimulus-response (S-R) psychology • Although it met resistance, Watson’s behavioural point of view gradually took hold • Even before Watson made his case, psychology had already been edging in that direction • Emergence of behaviourism was partly attributable to a discovery by Ivan Pavlov, using dogs to show how stimulus-response bonds are formed – these bonds were what behaviourlists wanted to investigate • This animal-response approach contributed to the rise of animal research in psychology • Behaviourists no longer needed to study human subjects to report on their mental processes – but felt that animals would make better subjects because researchers could exert CONTROL over their subjects • There was opposition to Watson’s views from an emerging school of thought called Gestalt psychology  concerned with perception and argued that it should continue to study conscious experience rather than overt behaviour • Sigmund Freud from Austria had been contemplating the mysteries of unconscious mental processes Freud Brings the Unconscious into the Picture Sigmund Freud • Austrian physician who dreamed of achieving fame by making an important discovery • His determination was so great that in med school he dissected 400 male eels to prove for the first time that they had testes – this did not make him famous • His work with people and his theories made him one of the most controversial intellectual figures in the modern times • His approach to psychology grew through his efforts to treat mental disorders • He treated people troubled by psychological problems such as fears, obsessions, and anxieties with a procedure called psychoanalysis • His work with patients and own self-exploration persuaded him of the existence of what he called the unconscious Unconscious (according to Freud)  contains thoughts, memories, and desires that are well below the surface of conscious awareness but that nonetheless exert great influence on behaviour • Freud based this on a variety of observations o The seemingly meaningless slips of the tongue (“I decided to take a summer school curse”) – appeared to reveal a person’s true feelings o Patient’s dreams often expressed feelings that they were unaware of • Concluded that psychological disturbances are largely caused by personal conflicts existing at an unconscious level Psychoanalytic Theory  attempts to explain personality, motivation, and mental disorders by focusing on unconscious determinants of behaviour • The concept of unconscious was not entirely new but was a major departure from the belief that people are fully aware of the forces affecting their behaviour • Freud made a disturbing suggestion that people are NOT MASTERS OF THEIR OWN MINDS • He also proposed that behaviour is greatly influenced by how people cope with their sexual urges – made people offended and uncomfortable • These concepts induced controversy • It may have been because of its controversial nature – but his theory gained influence very slowly – but gradually won acceptance • Although this theory was widely known by 1920, it continued to meet resistance in psychology because it conflicted with the spirit of the times in psychology – most psychologists were focused on observable behaviour • If the conscious was so inaccessible to scientific observation, the unconscious would be far worse – viewed as “unscientific speculation” that would fade away • Psychoanalytic ideas steadily moved into medicine, arts, and literature – “threatened to eclipse psychology entirely” • This theory forced psychologists to apply their methods to topics such as personality, motivation, and abnormal behaviour – many saw merit in Freud’s notions upon studying these topics • Today, many psychoanalytic concepts have filtered into mainstream psychology Skinner Questions Free Will as Behaviour Flourishes B.F. Skinner • A young psychologist began emerging as a central figure in behaviourism and the history of psychology • Set out to be a writer – but only had important things to say within psychology about behaviour • Influenced by Watson’s methodological behaviourism and by Pavlov’s work on conditioned reflexes – eventually developed a system of radical behaviourism Radical Behaviourism  represented a departure from earlier forms of behaviourism and neo-behaviourism • Did not deny the existence of internal/mental events but redefined them as private events that should not be given special status when explaining behaviour • Noted that private events are much more difficult to study – believed there was little need for them to be studied • If stimulus is food and response is eating, we can fully describe what is happening without making guesses • Like Watson, he emphasized environmental factors on behaviour • Acknowledged that an organisms behaviour is influenced by its biology, psychology could understand and predict behaviour without restoring to it Fundamental principle of behaviour (documented by Skinner):  organisms tend to repeat responses that lead to positive outcomes and tend not to repeat responses that lead to neutral or negative outcomes • Principle turned out to be powerful • Using lab rats/pigeons, Skinner was able to exert remarkable control over their behaviour by manipulating the outcomes of their responses • Even able to train animals to perform unnatural behaviours – ex. Ping pong • Behaviour priciples are now used in factories, schools, prisons, mental hospitals, etc. • In his book “Beyond Freedom and Dignity” – he say that all behaviour is fully governed by external stimuli o Your behaviour is determined in predictable ways by lawful principles o Your actions are not a result of conscious decisions o People are controlled by their environment, not by themselves o Free will is an illusion  conclusion • Skinner and his theories were a target of harsh criticism – much of which was through misinterpretation of his ideas o Ex. His analysis on free will was misconstructed as an attack of free society • Skinner significantly impacted the developing field of psychology and became a household name • He developed mechanical teaching machines • Published a fictional account of the application of his principals to produce a utopian society in a book – many were unpleased by this message • For a time, skinner was seen to be the face of psychology • Complex relationship to the general public • Despite controversy, behaviourism flourished as the dominant school of thought in psychology during the 1950s and 1960s – Skinner was ranked as the field’s most important contributor See TABLE 1.2 The Humanists Revolt • By the 1950s, behaviourism and psychoanalytic theory had become the most influential schools of thought in psychology o Many felt that these theoretical orientations were unappealing and DEHUMANIZING o Psychoanalytic theory was attacked for its belief that behaviour is dominated by primitive, sexual urges o Behaviourism was criticized for its preoccupation with the study of simple animal behaviour o Both theories were criticized because they suggested that people are not masters of their own destinies and failed to recognize the unique qualities in HUMAN behaviour Humanism  a theoretical orientation that emphasizes the unique qualities of humans, especially their freedom and their potential for personal growth • Diverse opposition to behaviourism and psychoanalytic theory • Humanists take an OPTIMISTIC view of human nature • Say that people are not pawns of animal heritage or environmental circumstances • Research on animals has little relevance to the understanding of human behaviour Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow • Principal contributors • Argued that human behaviour is governed primarily by each individual’s sense of self, or “self concept” (which animals lack) • To fully understand people’s behaviour, psychologists must take the fundamental human driver towards personal growth into account • People have the need to evolve as humans to fulfill potentials • Many psychological disturbances are the result of thwarting these uniquely human needs • The humanists’ greatest contribution to psychology has been their innovative treatments for psychological disorders • Argued for a different picture of human nature Psychology in Canada • First lab in psychology (1879)– Leipzig, Germany by Wundt • First lab in North American psychology (1883– Johns Hopkins University by Hall • First lab in the British Empire (1891) – UofT by James Mark Baldwin o Marks the birth of EXPERIMENTAL psychology in Canada
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