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Chapter 1: Psychology and History

Chapter 1: Psychology and History

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Chapter 1: Psychology and History

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  1. Chapter 1: Psychology and History A History of Psychology (3rd Edition) John G. Benjafield

  2. Studying the History of Psychology • Why study the history of psychology? • Historiography: studying the history of history

  3. Edwin G. Boring (1886–1968) • Wrote the most influential modern history of psychology • Focused on the growth of experimental psychology since the nineteenth century • These developments should be considered in their historical context

  4. Edwin G. Boring • Recognized two approaches to history: • Person: emphasizing the role of the individual • Zeitgeist: understanding the cultural context in which the individual’s work took place • Concept attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)

  5. Other Constructs • Progressive: the historical world seen as movement to an end • Ex. Jacob’s ladder • Cyclical: history seen as a circularity • Ex. Ixion’s wheel • Maybe psychology both progresses and is cyclical? • Think of a spiral

  6. The New History of Psychology Laurel Furomoto (1989: 11): ‘Whereas traditional history portrayed the scientist as an objective fact finder and neutral observer, the new history emphasized the notion that scientists often operate in a subjective fashion, under the influence of a variety of extra-scientific factors. Also, the new history rejected the traditional view of scientific activity as a continuous progression from error to truth, and opted instead for a model that depicts scientific change as a shift from one world view to another…’

  7. Thomas Kuhn (1924–1996) • The Structure of Scientific Revolutions • Development of scientific disciplines is discontinuous

  8. Thomas Kuhn • Paradigm: the set of fundamental beliefs that guide workers in a scientific discipline • Revolutionary period: occurs when a new paradigm is emerging and an old paradigm is being overthrown • Paradigm clashes: fundamentally different ways of interpreting existing data • Normal science: occurs once a discipline has established a single paradigm

  9. Psychology’s Paradigms? • Has psychology ever had a paradigm? • Should psychology have a paradigm?

  10. Feminism and the Psychology of Women Classic texts: • Simone de Beauvoir’s (1949/1989) The Second Sex • Betty Friedan’s (1963) The Feminine Mystique • Feminism ≠ a single point of view

  11. Feminism and the Psychology of Women Feminism and the Women’s Movement have helped change the history of psychology • Idenitified distortions and biases in psychology • Changes to curriculum so we can study the psychology of women and the women of psychology • Compensatory history • Reconstruction of women’s experiences

  12. Two Traditions Kimball: • Emphasizes the similarities between the genders ex. Letta Hollingworth • Emphasizes feminine characteristics ex. Evelyn Fox Keller

  13. Evelyn Fox Keller Keller Noticed: • The relative absence of women in the sciences • That the style of thinking practised by scientists had a masculine origin

  14. Evelyn Fox Keller Need to be aware of the science-gender system: • ≠ ignore masculine science • = discuss feminine science as well as masculine science

  15. Social Constructionism • Is psychology a social construction? • Dialectical process: one in which opposing tendencies shape one another • Exogenic: coming from outside • Endogenic: coming from inside • Limits to both exogenic and endogenic perspectives • Avoid problem by understanding psychological concepts as the outcome of social processes

  16. Psychological Research as a Social Construction • Concern: • Psychology as a social construction suggests psychological research is not objective • However: • Can scientific research be both a social construction and the objective truth?

  17. Psychological Researchas a Social Construction Some social-constructionist historians: • Focus on the social processes that determine how research is conducted • Avoid claiming a lack of empirical content • Ex. Kurt Danziger

  18. Reconciling the ‘Old’ and ‘New’Histories of Psychology • Presentism: the tendency to evaluate the past primarily in terms of its relevance for the present • George W. Stocking • Herbert Butterfield

  19. Reconciling the ‘Old’ and ‘New’Histories of Psychology • Historicism: the understanding of the past for its own sake • Passéist: a person who values the past more than the present • An historicist need not be a passéist

  20. Precautions when Studying the History of Psychology • History not important simply because it lays the groundwork for what we have now • We should not regard all previous thinkers as obsolete • We should guard against the danger of being too critical of the past

  21. When studying the history of psychology…. • Try to rediscover what each psychologist was attempting to accomplish • Try to understand each theory on its own terms