Presentation on theme: "How to Write a History of Psychology How objective is it?"— Presentation transcript:
How to Write a History of Psychology How objective is it?
Factors that influence how we write history 1.Our memory: what happens when people remember. Influences both the selection and the shape of what we tell. 2.The way we understand cultural change (Zeitgeist vs Great People) 3.The way we understand the evolution of science (continuous and deductive (K. Popper) vs discontinuous and inductive (T. Kuhn --paradigm shift) 4.The cultural biases that cause works and people to be noticed, encouraged or ignored.
1. Memory Reflection or reconstruction?
How reliable is your memory? How do we remember stories? Why do we remember what we do? Can we tell the difference between what happen and what is suggested, brought about? Is it possible to create memories of inexistent events?
Memory changes the story Bartlett studies: uses a story called "War of the Ghosts" that he asks people to remember. Notes that people "reconstruct" stories according to their own pre-existing schemas, and also tend to suppress ambiguities. (See Resource Center pages for more)
We create new memories Elizabeth Loftus (see Resource Center) did many studies showing how easy it is to distort memory and even create memories for events that did not happen. Hence there is a great deal of subjectivity in the "stuff" of history, especially the witness accounts, journals and recollections.
2. Zeitgeist or Great People?
How does science or culture change? Is it the work of great people or the work of the Zeitgeist? If Einstein or Darwin or Freud had died during childhood, would another person have carried these ideas? (Most likely)
How does someone become a "Great Person" Why is it Freud, or Darwin, or Einstein who carried those ideas? What characteristics do people need to have to become recognized and eminent? (this will get us into the notion of cultural bias)
3.Paradigm Shift or On- going Change?
How does science progress? Through the systematic accumulation of data, and the disconfirmation of hypotheses?(Popper) Through paradigm shifts?(Kuhn) Does emphasizing one or the other change the way that history is written? (for more info on Popper and Kuhn, see Resource Center)
Are Popper and Kuhn's views contradictory? No, not necessarily. Popper and Kuhn's views may be different "moments" in the process of the development of science. Popper's views would fit into Piaget's view of "assimilation", and Kuhn's into "accommodation".
4. Cultural Bias
Why is someone's work remembered? Because it is exceptional? Is exceptional work sometimes forgotten? Or not noticed in the first place? Why is that?
Psychology and racial/cultural bias Robert V. Guthrie's book Even the Rat Was White describes the way racism influenced not only who received access to training as a psychologist, but also the very questions that were asked in the field. (see Resource page for more info)
Psychology and gender bias Gender bias also rendered women's access to the psychology profession difficult, discounted their contributions (as it did for non-whites), and caused study samples to be all-male. (see Resource page for more info)