Psychology- Themes and Variations
Chapter 1- The Evolution of Society
From Speculation to Science: How Psychology Developed
- The term psychology comes from two Greek words, psyche, meaning the soul, and logos, referring to
the study of a subject.
- In the 16 century, psyche was used to refer to the soul, spirit, or mind, as distinguished from the
body (Boring, 1966). Not until the 18 century did the term psychology gain more than rare usage
among scholars. By that time, it had acquired its literal meaning, “the study of the mind.”
A New Science Is Born: The Contributions of Wundt and Hall
- The philosophers and physiologists who were interested in the mind viewed questions as fascinating
issues within their respective fields.
- It was a German professor, Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920), who eventually changed this view. Wundt
mounted a campaign to make psychology an independent discipline rather than a stepchild of
philosophy or physiology. Wundt’s appeal was successful and German universities were in a healthy
period of expansion, so resources were available for new resources. Furthermore, the intellectual
climate favoured the scientific approach that Wundt advocated.
- In 1879, Wundt succeeded in establishing the first formal laboratory for research in psychology at
the University of Leipzig. In deference to this landmark event, historians have christened 1879 as
psychology’s “date of birth.”
- Wundt’s campaign has been so successful that today he is widely characterized as the founder of
- Wundt (1874) declared that the new psychology should be a science modelled after fields such as
physics and chemistry. According to Wundt, the subject matter of the new science for psychology’s
primary focus was consciousness—the awareness of immediate experience. Thus, psychology
became the scientific study of conscious experience. This demanded that the methods psychologists
used to investigate the mind be as scientific as those of chemists and physicist.
The Battle of the “Schools” Begins: Structuralism versus Functionalism
- Structuralism emerged through the leadership of Edward Titchener, an Englishman who emigrated
to the U.S in 1892 and taught for decades at Cornell University.
- Structuralism was based on the notion that the task of psychology is to analyze consciousness into
its basic elements and investigate how these elements related. The structuralists wanted to identify
and examine the fundamental components of conscious experience, such as sensations, feelings, and
- To examine the contents of consciousness, the structuralists depended on the method of
introspection, the careful, systematic self-observation of one’s own conscious experience.
Introspection required tra