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Mary Whiton Calkins (1863-1930). Overview Brief timeline/biography of Mary Whiton Calkins Historical antecedents that influenced the individual Zeitgeist.

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Presentation on theme: "Mary Whiton Calkins (1863-1930). Overview Brief timeline/biography of Mary Whiton Calkins Historical antecedents that influenced the individual Zeitgeist."— Presentation transcript:

1 Mary Whiton Calkins ( )

2 Overview Brief timeline/biography of Mary Whiton Calkins Historical antecedents that influenced the individual Zeitgeist in which individual was developing her ideas Specific professional obstacles/struggles of the individual Experiments/research/clinical data supporting her ideas/theories Strengths and weaknesses of her ideas/theories Influence of individual on the event and ideas of her time and on later events in psychology

3 Timeline/Biography of Mary Whiton Calkins Born March 30, 1863 Attended Smith College and earned degrees in both the classics and philosophy Held a teaching position at Wellesley in Greek and philosophy Showed talent in psychology and was appointed to head the experimental lab… Died at home on February 27, 1930

4 Historical Antecedents Family Eldest of 5 children Very Devoted to her family, close knit Maude  Sister that died in 1883 after her first year at Smith College  Diagnosed with inflammatory rheumatism  It was an “experience which permanently influenced her thinking and character”  Her first encounter with deep grief  The following academic year Mary stayed home & took private lessons  She re-entered Smith College in the Fall of 1884 as a senior and graduated with a concentration in classics and philosophy

5 Historical Antecedents Family Wolcott Calkins  Presbyterian minister  Designed & supervised Mary’s education  Arranged an interview with President of Wellesley College  She was offered a position there as a tutor in Greek & she began teaching in the Fall of 1887  Mary stayed in the Greek Department for 3 years

6 Historical Antecedents Trip to Europe  Stayed for 16 weeks  Briefly attended the University of Leipzig  Broadened Mary’s knowledge of the classics  Became acquainted with an instructor from Vassar College: Abby Leach  Leach was planning a trip to Greece & invited Calkins  Studied modern Greece and the classics

7 Historical Antecedents Wellesley College A professor in the Department of Philosophy noticed her talent for teaching  Philosophy department was planning to introduce work in psychology as part of new curriculum and would need someone to teach courses in this new area  Calkins was excited about new opportunity, but the position was open to her if she first prepared herself by studying psychology for 1 year  Problems meeting this condition  Admittance was not offered to her because of her gender  Go abroad?  Study with G. T. Ladd at Yale, William James at Harvard, & G. S. Hall at Clark University?  It was Harvard that Calkins went to take seminars with William James & Josiah Royce (October 1, 1890 Harvard considered and approved petition)

8 Historical Antecedents William James & Harvard University Attended seminars conducted by James at Harvard University Helped Calkins face barriers of prejudice and discrimination Harvard University refused to grant her a graduate degree, even though she had done the work Calkins examination was described as the “most brilliant examination for the Ph.D. that we have had at Harvard” – William James Calkins influenced by William James’s chapter on the stream of consciousness in Principles of Psychology

9 Historical Antecedents Other Experimental Psychology lab (1890)  While attending seminars at Harvard, Calkins also studied in an experimental psychology lab with Edmund Sanford at Clark University  Influenced by the experimental procedure  “Richness & Precision” Fall of 1891, returned to Wellesley College as an instructor in Psychology/ the Department of Philosophy and introduced a new course into the curriculum  “Psychology approached from the philosophical standpoint” 1891: Established a lab for experimental psychology at Wellesley College

10 Zeitgeist Discrimination against women Disagreed outright with belief that there were inherent sex differences in mental abilities Variability Hypothesis  Darwinian idea of male variability  Notion that men show a wider range a variation of physical and mental development that women  The abilities of women are seen as more average

11 Zeitgeist Mary Calkins presented her system of self-psychology and contrasted it to the rival systems of the day Structuralism, functionalism, behaviorism, hormic psychology, Gestalt psychology, and psychoanalysis Wundt & Titchener In 1900, Calkins presented her self-psychology Departure from Wundt and Titchener system that was dominant in American Psychology Structuralism  Study of the contents of consciousness  Introspection as the main source of data

12 Zeitgeist Functionalism James; System of psychology concerned with mind as it is used in an organism’s adaptation to its environment Behaviorism (1913) Watson; Focused solely on observable acts that could be described in objective terms Hormic Psychology McDougall; emphasis on the emotional and purposive (goal- oriented) side of human nature Gestalt Psychology Opposition to elementalism; holistic Psychoanalytic Movement Freud; Emphasis on instinctive and emotional side of human nature; the unconscious mind

13 Calkins’ Struggles and Obstacles Educational Struggles Struggles at Harvard Struggles for her Ph.D. Other Struggles

14 Professional Obstacles Calkins had the opportunity to teach a philosophy class at Wellesley College, but had to study psychology for one year There were few Psychology departments for Calkins to study in. Also few departments accepted females as students Could have studied at Yale or Michigan Both schools were too far away from Calkins home Neither included a laboratory, which was important for Calkins to study physiological psychology

15 Struggles at Harvard Calkins was not allowed to study at Harvard President Eliot said, “her presence would receive an angry reaction for the governing body at Harvard” Her father and the President of Wellesley college petitioned to let Calkins study at Harvard On October 1, 1890 Calkins was allowed to “sit-in” on the lectures at Harvard. William James and Josiah Royce also supported her Calkins wanted to further her education by working with Munsterberg who was coming to Harvard to do research Once again she was refused the opportunity to study at Harvard with Munsterberg She was later allowed to sit in but not as a student only as a guest

16 Struggles for her Ph.D. Calkins finished all of her work for her Ph.D., but she was refused her Ph.D. because she was a woman and also she was not a student Munsterberg wrote a letter to the president and fellows of Harvard that Calkins should be a candidate for her Ph.D. His request was considered and refused A group 13 psychologist who were Harvard graduates and professors of prestigious institutions sent in a petition to the president of Harvard requesting that Calkins should get her Ph.D. Harvard said “No adequate reason for granting Calkins the degree” Calkins was offered her Ph.D. from Radcliffe college the Harvard for women. She refused the offer because she earned her degree at Harvard Calkins thought that “Harvard was making a distinction between the sexes by withholding the Harvard Ph.D. from female students who did the work, took the same exams at Harvard like their counterparts ”

17 Other Struggles Calkins opposed the Variability hypothesis and the differentiation between men and women’s right to vote because these issues held her back from reaching her goals Calkins came up with the technical method for studying memory called paired associates; however, Titchner took full credit for it

18 Experiments/Research/Clinical Data Supporting her theory’s and ideas Dream Research : - studied the contents of individual dreams by having them record, in detail, their dreams over a seven week period - discovered that there was a “close connection between the dream-life and waking life, and that the dream will reproduce in general, the persons, places, and events of recent sense perception.” -rejected Freud’s theory of dreams; dreams did not represent one’s unconsciousness.

19 Experiments/Research/Clinical Data Supporting her Theory’s and Ideas Cont. Paired-Associate Tasks (Memorization Method) - wanted to look at how frequency, dominance, regency, and vividness influenced memory - research method involved showing individuals a series of colors paired with numbers - tested how many numbers the individual could recall that had been paired with colors - discovered that individuals were more likely to remember any number that was joined with any given color vs. numbers that were vividly colored or a number that was last paired with a color.

20 Experiments/Research/Clinical Data Supporting her Theory’s and Ideas Cont. Self-Psychology - Believed that the self is the central factor in psychology - Three important elements of the self: the self, the object, and the self’s relationship/attitude toward the object

21 Self-Theory Self includes: The self that his changed The self that remains the same The self that is unique The self that is a unity of perceptions, memories, thoughts and feelings The self that is related to the larger social and physical community in which it lives Calkins said the soul is a conscious being. It is the self. This is different than the Structuralist view, which asserted that it was the organism that was experiencing sensations, not a indefinable being.

22 Strengths of Self-Theory The theory allowed for “individual differences” in studying mental processes Calkins did not deny the validity of atomistic (idea) psychology. She believed they were two equally valid approaches Original theory put forth by a female psychologist in a an aversive climate

23 Weaknesses of Self-Theory The self is “indefinable” (Calkins, 1915) Tested through introspection, which had questionable empiricism Connected to her ideas about ethics and morality (Wentworth, 1999)

24 Calkin’s Influence Then The timing of Calkin’s theory did not mesh well with the scientific ideals of her peers (Not objective experimental methods) “We still find certain residues of the soul theory, masquerading in modern discussion as accounts of empirical or quasi-empirical realities” (Troland, 1929)

25 Calkins’ Influence Later Psychoanalytic self psychology Heinz Kohut, MD ( ) Theoretical basis for most of the therapeutic benefits of contemporary psychoanalysis. Rejects importance of innate Freudian sexual drives in the organization of the human psyche First major psychoanalytic movement in the United States to recognize the critical role of empathy in explaining human development and psychoanalytic change.

26 Summary Family huge influence Studied under James, Royce, & Sanford Never received her degree from Harvard Contrasted all her work against the Zeitgeist, “Variability Hypothesis” Paired-Associate Task was a big influence on learning theory Self-theory was a contrast to the times, and it was not embraced by her contemporaries

27 References Bumb, J. Mary Whiton Calkins. Retrieved March 4, 2004, from Calkins, Mary W. An Introduction to Psychology. New York: Macmillan & Co., Calkins, Mary W. A First Book in Psychology. New York: Macmillan & Co., Calkins, M. W., (1917). The case of self against soul. Psychological Review, 24, 278-The case of self against soul Calkins, M.W. (1911). General standpoints; Mind and body. Psychological Bulletin, 8, Calkins, M.W. Christopher, Green D. “Autobiography of Mary Whiton Calkins.” Classics in the History Of Psychology. 27 Jan Mar Furumoto, L. (1980). Mary Whiton Calkins ( ). Psychology of Women Quarterly, 5, Furumoto, Laurel, Mary Whiton Calkins. Psychology of Women Quarterly, Vol 5(1). Human Sciences Press:1980

28 References Madigan, S. & O’Hara, R. (1992). Short-term memory at the turn of the century: Mary Whiton Calkins’s memory research. American Psychologist, 47, Minton, H. L. (2000). Psychology and gender at the turn of the century. American Psychologist, 55, Schultz, D. P. & Schultz, S. E. (2004). A history of modern psychology (8 th Edition). Wadsworth: Belmont. Seigfried, C. H. (1993) letter from Harvard Philosophy department. Hypatia, 8, Wentworth, P. A. (1999). The moral of her story: Exploring the philosophical and religious commitments in Mary Whiton Calkins’ self-psychology. History of Psychology, 2, Women's Intellectual Contributions to the Study of Mind and Society. Mary Whiton Calkins.


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