Psychology the Evolution of Science
William James is the most influential man in Psychology History
He started off wanting to be an artist but was scared that he wasn’t talented enough so he
decided to go into Medical school at Harvard.
He wasn’t that interested in the study and that was when he decided to put his studies on
hold and go on a biological trip to the amazon.
When he came back and went back to school his physical and mental health started to
deteriorate and that’s when he went on another to trip to travel around Europe.
While he was in Europe he heard about this field of study called Psychology and was
excited to hear about it.
When he went back to school he finished fast but did not pursue his Medical career rather
he decided to study psychology.
He then wrote one of the most influential books in all of Psychology called “The
Principles of Psychology” and this book is still studies today.
Psychologist today are studying
They use state of the art technology to examine what happens in the brain when people fella
anger, recall past experiences, undergo hypnosis, or take an intelligence test. They also examine
the impact of culture on people, the origin of language, the way people form groups and dissolve
and the differences and similarities between individuals people from different backgrounds.
Psychology: is the scientific study of mind and behavior.
Mind: Our private inner experiences of perceptions, thoughts, memories and feelings.
Behavior: Observable actions of human beings and nonhuman animals.
For years Philosophers tried to understand the subjective physical world was connected to the
subjective psychological world and some suggested that the magic tunnel between these two
worlds was the pineal gland. Today Psychologist says that there is no magic tunnel and that all of our subjective experiences arise from the electrical and chemical activities of our brains. The
technique known as the Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) allows scientists to scan
and see which parts are active when a person reads a word, sees a face, learns a new skill, or
remembers a personal experience.
Psychologists have proven that emotions have a big influence on how we make our decisions.
The case of Elliot
He was living a good life until surgeons performed a life changing surgery to remove a
tumour in the middle of his brain.
After the surgery Elliot seemed fine until he started making bad decisions.
He couldn’t prioritise task and often make risky business ventures all which failed.
His wife and him got a divorce and he remarried and divorced again.
When he was examined Neurologists found out that Elliot cannot feel any emotions.
Emotions are adaptive because they function as signals that tell us when we are putting
ourselves in harm’s way.
Our mental life is susceptible to occasional malfunctions in our otherwise-efficient mental
processing. What is fascinating is that we are all prone to a variety of errors and illusions.
Our mind experiences lapses that make us do things that are not meant to be done. For example
there was a study that was made concerning mental errors and someone wrote in their diary “I
meant to get my car out, but as I passed the back porch on my way to the garage, I stopped to put
on my boots and gardening jacket as if to work in the yard.” When we are not focused on what
we are doing these habits may come into action. William James said that these are done when the
individual in “absentminded.” He also understood the minds mistake as an intriguing and
instructive and psychology also studies it.
Structuralists: analyze the mind by breaking it down into its basic components.
Functionalists: focus on how mental abilities allow people to adapt to their environment.
Psychology’s Ancestors: The Great Philosophers
Plato and Aristotle were the first to struggle with fundamental questions about how the mind
Plato argued on Nativism which is when certain knowledge is innate or inborn.
Aristotle argues that a child is born a Tabula Rasa (blank slate) on which experiences
were written and he argues for Philosophical Empiricism.
Nativism: the philosophical view that certain kinds of knowledge are innate or inborn. Philosophical Empiricism: the philosophical view that all knowledge is acquired through
Rene Descartes(1596-1650) is a French philosopher.
He argued that body and mind are fundamentally different things that the body is made of
a material substance, whereas the mind (or soul) is made of an immaterial or spiritual
This the problem of Dualism.
He suggested that the mind influences the body through a tiny structure near the bottom
of the brain known as the pineal gland.
He was mostly alone on this notion.
Dualism: how mental activity can be reconciled and coordinated with physical behavior.
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) is a British Philosopher.
He argued that the mind influences the body through a tiny structure near the bottom of
the brain known as the pineal gland.
Hobbes found difficulty in finding in where the brain meets the mind.
Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828) is a French Physician.
He also thought that brains and minds were linked but by size rather than by gland.
He examined brains of animals and people who had died of disease, or as healthy people.
He observed that mental ability often increases with larger brain size and decreases with
damage to the brain.
But he went too far when he came up with the theory called Phrenology which held that
specific mental abilities and characteristics, ranging from memory to the capacity for
happiness are localized in specific regions of the brain.
This notion was true but Gall to Phrenology to an extreme.
He said by feeling bumps in the skull in a certain brain region one can tell if the person is
friendly, cautious, assertive, idealistic and so on.
Phrenology: a now defunct theory that specific mental abilities and characteristics, ranging from
memory to the capacity for happiness