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Ok, so not quite 3 hours – just a (VERY BRIEF) – History of Psychology

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1 Ok, so not quite 3 hours – just a (VERY BRIEF) – History of Psychology
A 3-hour Tour Ok, so not quite 3 hours – just a (VERY BRIEF) – History of Psychology

2 First things first . . . What is psychology?
The scientific study of behavior & mental processes Science: making verifiable, objective predictions Behavior: observable acts Mental Processes: storing, recalling, using info/feelings How is it different from other social sciences? Focus on individual behavior Where did it come from? Philosophy Physiology Psychology is born (roughly) in 1879

3 Historical Origins of ψ from Philosophy
Rene Descartes (1596 – 1650)

4 Historical Origins of ψ from Philosophy
Rene Descartes Beliefs Rationalist: True knowledge comes through reasoning Nativist: Heredity provides individuals with inborn knowledge and abilities and we use this to reason We are to doubt everything – that’s the only way we can be certain about anything I think, therefore I am. Quick history of his life: a Frenchman, brilliant (top of his class), after graduation he gambled a lot and engaged in debauchery. He then joined the army but preferred isolation to hanging out with others – he didn’t trust them. He believed that ‘my truth is better than their truth.’ He left the army, got interested in geometry and wanted to apply the rules of geometry to aspects of life with regards to axioms (those self-evident truths) and theorems (logical connections between two axioms). From his work, developed a doubting perspective – we are to doubt everything. How do I know this is blue? Can I trust my perception? I think, therefore I am. He was left with only a doubting mind.

5 Historical Origins of ψ from Philosophy
John Locke (1632 – 1704)

6 Historical Origins of ψ from Philosophy
John Locke Saw the mind as receptive and passive, with its main goal as sensing and perceiving Tabula rasa – we are born as a blank slate, everything we know is learned This is in direct contrast to the rationalist Descartes In his work, ‘An Essay Concerning Human Understanding’ he put forth the belief that the mind is receptive and passive. It’s main goals are to sense and perceive the external world. He believed that we develop all knowledge from the observation of things in the external world. Thus, we are born in a state of ‘tabula rasa’, with a brain that is a blank slate and has no prior knowledge. This is in direct contrast to the Rationalists (and Descartes). Locke saw morons and smart people and wondered what made the dumb people. If we have all this innate knowledge and reasoning skills, how are people dumb? Children aren’t born with innate reasoning, it is something they learn.

7 Psychology Becomes More Scientific
Hermann Helmholtz (1821 – 1894)

8 Psychology Becomes More Scientific
Hermann Helmholtz He was a mechanist – he believed that everything can be understood with basic physical and chemical principles He pushed for the need to test and demonstrate things. Hermann contributed the first major attempt to bring psychology into the laboratory – in the past, psychology had been a domain where really smart people sit around and think and talk and think and talk…not a lot of science going on. Johannes Muller was Hermann’s teacher. Muller believed in ‘vitalism’ – that every living organism has a life force that cannot be measured. Muller thought that nerve impulses traveled at a ‘near infinite’ speed, propelled by the ‘life force’. Hermann respectfully disagreed. Helmholtz was a mechanist – he believed thast everything could be understood with basic physical and chemical principles. There is no mystical life force – everything is measurable. For example, the amount of muscular energy and heat generated by a frog is a function of the amount of oxidation of food the frog has consumed. So you can see that the movement to measure things is coming into view. Helmholtz is arguing that we can’t say there is this infinite energy out there, we need to test and demonstrate things. Muller was a ‘mystical forces’ guy and Helmholtz said no, we need to measure everything.

9 Psychology Becomes More Scientific
Gustav Fechner (1801 – 1887)

10 Psychology Becomes More Scientific
Gustav Fechner Psychophysics – he pushed to investigate the relationship between the physical world and our conscious psychological world He thought it possible to measure the perceived as well as the physical intensities of sensory stimuli and to determine a mathematical relationship Just noticeable difference (JND) approach Fechner was a founder of the psychophysics movement – he thought we should investigate the relationship between the physical world and our conscious psychological world. I highlight the word ‘conscious’ here because we’ll get to the ‘unconcscious’ later…these theorists so far in history haven’t even conceived of the ‘unconscious’. For example: a candle in a lit room is perceived differently than a candle in a dark room (ask students what is perceived differently). Or a pin dropped in a quiet room is perceived differently than a pin dropped in a loud room. Fechner thought that it was possible to measure the perceived as well as the physical intensities of sensory stimuli and to determine a mathematical relationship between them. This is what we do now only now we call it construct validity. Fechner realized that we couldn’t put a yardstick inside someone’ head so instead of worrying about measuring absolute differences, he focused on measuring relative differences. To do this, he developed the ‘just noticeable difference’ approach. So you place two stimuli next to each other and ask – Which is brighter? Which weighs more? We’ll see later in class that the difference of low intensity stimuli is much smaller than the change in large intensity stimuli (Weber). So if I piled three textbooks in (get volunteer)’s arms and then added one more, would (name) notice? YEP! But if I piled twenty textbooks in (name)’s arms and then added one more, would (name) notice? NOPE! What you should notice from all this is a strong movement from the field into the lab.

11 The Father of Psychology
Wilhelm Wundt

12 The Father of Psychology
Wilhelm Wundt 1st ψ lab (1879) University of Leipzig, Germany Focus on consciousness Find basic elements of conscious processes Discover how elements (sensations and feelings) are connected Specify laws of connection Introspection Self-observation: ‘seeing’ mental processes in immediate experience And now we come to what most historians consider the founding of psychology! Wilhelm Wundt and the magical year of Prior to this, though, Wundt had had a varied career in medicine (working with Robert Bunsen of Bunsen burner fame), physiology (working with Hermann Helmholtz and Johannes Muller) and got interested in vision and perceptions of space. Several of his discoveries are important to his psychological emphasis: auditory and visual stimuli are not experience simultaneously (separate acts of attention are required) and that there is a central attentional process that others had ignored (they had focused on the motor nerves that carry messages to the brain rather than the brain itself). His work focused on consciousness. Thus, he determined that it takes about 1/10 of a second to shift one’s attention from the sound of a bell (auditory stimuli) to the position of a pendulum (visual stimuli). This led Wundt to believe that we had a voluntary control process for mental events (I.e., selective attention).

13 The First Schools of ψ Structuralism
Lots of work on sensation & perception and breaking those down into minute detail Three basic mental elements Images, feelings & sensations Titchner Found 43,000 elements associated with sensory experiences 30,000 associated with visual 11,000 associated with auditory 4 associated with taste (was correct with this one) So now that we have psychology officially ‘founded’, we have ‘schools’ of psychology – because as is the case with most everything in the world, there were different opinions regarding what psychology was and how it should be studied. Structuralism involves defining the ‘structure’ of the objects of study BEFORE we study it’s function. To do this, self-reflective introspection was utilized. Thus, people were to examine conscious experience in terms of its elements of sensation and feeling. Tichner had highly trained individuals reduce all of the mental contents into its most basic elements, while being totally devoid of imposing meaning of those views. He had participants define something (for example, an image). The experimenter would then work to break these images down into the most minute details…describing different patches of light, color, shape, intensities, duration, etc. From this, they understood that there are processes associated with intensities, lights, color, etc.

14 The First Schools of ψ Functionalism Focus on adaptation William James
Applying Darwin’s theory of natural selection to mental processes William James Stream of consciousness Consciousness is personal/selective, continuous (can’t be ‘cut up’ for analysis), and constantly changing Structuralism was foolish to search for common elements to all minds William James is considered the ‘Father of American Psychology’. He was from an intellectual and wealthy family (his brother is Henry James – a very famous American author). He studied at Harvard in chemistry, then studied with Agassiz, who totally disagreed with Darwin. He later split with Agassiz and sided with Darwin. He is known as a great teacher and wrote an extremely influential volume ‘The Principles of Psychology’ that, while it is somewhat difficult to read, is still very useful. James focused on Functionalism – he studied how the conscious mind helps us to adapt to the changing environment. He was a proponent of the ‘Stream of Consciousness’ method and felt that you couldn’t look at it in discrete chunks as Titchner had done. Like the ancient Greeks, he thought that one could never experience the same thing twice – every new experience is colored by the old and framed by past experiences (think about hearing the same song multiple times). He also studied habit and talked about how after enough repetitions, behaviors become hard-wired and difficult to change.

15 The First Schools of ψ Behaviorism Focus on observable behavior
J. B. Watson Felt that the main goal of psychology should be the prediction and control of behavior Stimulus-response theory We respond to stimuli with our behavior, not thoughts Pavlov’s dog studies Reinforcement for behavior If our behavior produces rewarding consequences, then we will do it again From the ‘stream of consciousness’ perspective, psychology then took a completely different turn in the form of behaviorism. The most influential psychologists in this are include Watson and Skinner. Watson especially is considered one of the most influential people in the history of psychology – because of this guy, thousands of studies were done using his methods for over 30 years (between the 1930s and 1960s). Watson disagreed with structuralism and functionalism and didn’t feel that the mind was the most appropriate object of study. He felt that behavior wasa the ‘correct’ thing to study. Growing up, Watson was a trouble-maker, did poorly in school, and arrested at one point for firing his gun within city limits. He went to school and in grad school he studied under John Dewey, who was a functionalist…but he thought that introspection was a waste of time. Other faculty at the University of Chicago did research on animals, which he liked. His dissertation was on the complexity of rats’ behavior and the amount of myelin sheaths around their necral fibers (that will make more sense when we start talking about the brain later on in the semester). Here you started to see his interest in behavior begin. What finally developed was a theory that the main goal of psychology should be the prediction and control of behavior – he preferred the concrete versus the theoretical. He felt that introspection had no intrinsic value. He also denied the traditional view of distinction between humans and animals. Therefore, all of his studies on rats can generalize to humans….which for what he is studying was a valid conclusion. We’ll see throughout the semester that there are some areas of psychology that are specific to humans. Watson focused exclusively on the rewards and punishments we have experienced in the past. He bragged about the power of rewards and punishments in the following statement: “give me a dozen healthy infants, well formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select--doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant, chief and yes, even beggarman and thief, regardless of his talents...abilities...and race of his ancestors.” Optimistic, but surely overstated, because our genetic background is important too. By the way, Watson took this objective approach even into his personal life. His advice for childrearing: “Never hug and kiss them, never let them sit on your lap. If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when they say goodnight. Shake hands with them in the morning....In a week’s time you will find how easy it is to be perfectly objective with your child and at the same time kindly...” No wonder many have hated the behaviorist tradition. Two of his four kids tried to kill themselves as adults!

16 Subsequent Schools of ψ
Gestalt psychology Wholes vs. multiple individual elements You shouldn’t dissect an experience into separate elements to discover truths – instead, look at the ‘whole’ Max Wertheimer Phi phenomenon So far we’ve seen schools really have a period of dominance all to themselves. Now we’ll start seeing that schools of thought start developing simultaneously – some of which are still around, and some of which have faded through the years. The Gestalt perspective is really best phrased as ‘the whole is greater than the sum of the parts’. The main philosophy is that you shouldn’t dissect an experience into separate elements to discover the truth but instead, look at the whole of the experience. They felt that dividing mental experiences up into elements isn’t meaningful: we do not see patches of color but instead, we see people, cars, trees, etc. The focus here is really perception. For example, Max Wertheimer’s Phi phenomenon: you can create an illusion that a light is moving from one location to another by flashing lights on and off at a certain rate.

17 Subsequent Schools of ψ
Freud’s Psychodynamic Theory Conscious vs. unconscious conflicts Unconscious: motivations and memories of which we are not aware Mental illness arises from being overwhelmed by which of these is ‘in control’ Psychoanalysis as therapy: tell me about your childhood…. We then move into one of the most controversial domains of psychology – Freud’s psychodynamic theory. I should point out that while Freud was the originator of this domain, he was by no means the only psychologist who held to these beliefs. A number of people worked with him throughout the years and who then started their own psychodynamic departments. Freud was born in the now Czech Republic and moved to Vienna when was 4. He stayed there until the Nazis forced him to move to London in 1938, just before his death. He was one of 8 children (his mom was 20 years younger than his dad), and had several half-brothers as well. He was a good student and studied medicine, specifically localizing brain injuries. He set up private practice and realized that he couldn’t make a living studying ‘normal’ neurological cases so he expanded his practice to treat ‘hysterical’ patients. No one else would treat these patients, but he took it very seriously. From his work with these hysterical patients, his psychodynamic approach began to take shape. His basic model involves the conflict between one’s conscious and unconscious in terms of which one is controlling thought and behavior. He focused a lot on motivations – mostly those involving sex and aggression. He felt that most mental illness evolved because the conscious part wanted to address the problem the patient was having while the unconscious feared the pain and didn’t want to do it. Later theories involved free association – where everything the patient says has meaning and dream analysis. Both of these haven’t necessarily stood the test of time but the conscious/unconscious framework is still utilized in some aspects of psychology today.

18 Today’s Theoretical Perspectives
Behavioral Observable S-R relationship Psychodynamic Unconscious forces motivating behavior Humanistic Self-actualization, free will Cognitive Thought processes Psychobiological Genes, brain function Evolutionary

19 So what is it you do? Basic vs. applied Areas of psychology:
Developmental Personality Clinical Cognitive Social Experimental/biological Quantitative

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