Ch 1- The Evolution of Psychology
One of the reasons that students and researchers are drawn to psychology is that it has
much to offer in the analysis and possible prevention of such social problems.
Psychologists seek to describe, explain, and predict the occurrence of such behaviour.
By the rigorous application of scientific methods, psychologists can often offer possible
explanations for this behaviour, as well as suggestions about what to do about it
immediately in order to cope with it and prevent its occurrence in the future.
Psychology is how people are able to perceive colour, how hunger is regulated from the
brain, whether chimpanzees can use language to communicate, what causes bullying and
aggression and how you can protect yourself, and a multitude of other topics.
Psychology is practical, but it is more then that- it is a way of thinking.
As a science, psychology demands that researchers ask precise questions about such issues
and that they test their ideas through systematic observation.
Psychology provides a way of building knowledge that is relatively accurate and
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.
16th century- psyche , was used to refer to the soul, spirit, or mind, as distinguished from
18th century- acquired its literal meaning, "the study of the mind" .
Psychology emerged as a scientific discipline a little over a hundred years ago.
A New Science is Born: The Contributions of Wundt and Hall
Psychology's intellectual parents were philosophy and physiology in which it was
Historians say in 1879 was psychology's "date of birth"
Psychology's founder was Wilhelm Wundt (German professor 1832-1920) he mounted a
campaign to make psychology an independent discipline rather than a stepchild of
philosophy or physiology and succeeded. He was the one who set up the first research lab
in 1879 (in Germany).
Wundt argued that psychology should be the scientific study of consciousness.
William Wundt- "Physiology informs us about those life phenomena that we perceive by
our external senses. In psychology, the person looks upon himself as from within and tries
to explain the interrelations of those processes that this internal observation discloses."
This orientation kept psychology focused on the mind and mental processes. But it
demanded that the methods psychologists used to investigate the mind be as scientific as
those of chemists and physicists. G . Stanley Hall launched America's first psychology journal ( in 1887) and helped
establish the American Psychological Association - APA ( in 1892) and was elected the
APA- worlds largest organization devoted to advancement of psychology.
Psychology was born in Germany, it blossomed into adolescence in America. Like many
adolescents, however, the young science was about to enter a period of turbulence and
The Battle of the "Schools" Begins: Structuralism versus Functionalism
Structuralism ( Edward Titchener) : 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 identify and examine the fundamental components of conscious
experience, like sensations, feelings, and images. Most of their work concerned sensation,
perception in vision, hearing, and touch.
Structuralism depended on the method of introspection : the careful, systematic, self-
observation of one's own conscious experience; trained subjects and then exposed them to
auditory tones, optical illusions, and visual stimuli then analyzing what they experienced.
Limitations associated with the use of introspection were: If you depend solely on an
individuals reflection to document a phenomenon, there is no independent objective
evaluation of that claim.
Advocates of structuralism argued that psychology should use introspection to analyze
consciousness into its basic elements.
Functionalism : based on the belief that psychology should investigate the function or
purpose of consciousness, rather then its structure.
Advocates of functionalism argued that psychology should investigate the purposes of
William James (1842-1910) - "it is just free water of consciousness that psychologists
William James (American Scholar) impressed with Charles Darwin's concept of natural
selection (heritable characteristics that provide a survival/ reproductive advantage are more
likely than alternative characteristics to be passed on to subsequent generations and thus
come to be "selected" over time).
James argued that structuralists missed the real nature of conscious experience. He argued
that consciousness consists of a continuous flow of thoughts; when analyzing
consciousness into its "elements" the structuralists were looking at static points in that
flow. James wanted to understand the flow itself, he called the stream of consciousness.
Instead of focusing on sensation and perception, functionalists James McKeen Cattell and
John Dewy began to investigate mental testing patterns of development in children, the
effectiveness of educational practises, and behavioural differences between the sexes.
Margaret Floy Washburn was the first women in the States to get her Ph.D. in psychology.
Mary Whiton Calkins, first women to become president of the American Psychological
Association (APA). Functionalism had a more lasting impact on psychology, as it fostered the emergence and
development of two descendents that have dominated psychology: behaviourism and
Watson Alters Psychology's Course as Behaviourism Makes Its Debut
John B. Watson(1878-1958) - "The time seems to have come when psychology must discard
all references to consciousness."
Behaviourism (founded by Watson) : is a theoretical orientation based on the premise that
scientific psychology should study only observable behaviour.
Watson was proposing that psychologists abandon the study of consciousness altogether
and focus directly on the behaviours that could be observed directly (argued that scientific
observations or experiments can always be verified or disapproved).
For Watson, mental processes were not a proper subject for scientific study because they
are ultimately private events; no one can see or touch another's thoughts.
This view gradually took hold and psychology became the scientific study of behaviour
(instead of consciousness).
Behaviour : refers to any overt (observable) response or activity by an organism.
Behaviour is determined mainly by genetic inheritance ("nature") or by environment and
Watson argued that people are made, not born (pianist or criminal); he down played the
importance of heredity, maintaining that behaviour is gove