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Ethel Puffer Howes

Ethel Puffer Howes

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Ethel Puffer Howes

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  1. Ethel Puffer Howes Sara Hardin Joe Tomlins Ben Schwartz AKA: The Naughty Nuns

  2. Childhood and Family Life • Born October 10, 1872 • Eldest of four sisters • Father, George • Respected railroad station agent • Mother, Ella • Received college education, as did younger sister • Taught high school until marriage • Family history of higher education for women Age 3 (Scarborough & Furumoto, 1987)

  3. Education • 1891 – graduated from Smith College at age 18 • Taught mathematics at Smith for 3 years • Became interested in study of Psychology • Fall 1895 – moved to Germany to study psychology at University of Berlin • Faced many struggles as female student • Interview with Hugo Münsterberg University of Berlin (Scarborough & Furumoto, 1987)

  4. Education • 1896 – Attended University of Freiburg • Studied under Münsterberg • Supervised her research • Allowed use of his private laboratory at his home • Encouraged Puffer to earn doctorate • 1897 – Followed Münsterberg to Harvard • Denied Ph.D., appealed to Radcliffe College • Result: 4 women granted Ph.D.s, Puffer one of 2 who accepted Hugo Münsterberg (Scarborough & Furumoto, 1987)

  5. Aesthetics • Beauty - pleasure in the senses; discriminatory • Aesthetics - all that can be aesthetically contemplated; inclusive of the ugly (Howes, 1914)

  6. The Psychology of Beauty - 1905 • General principles of Beauty: • Excellence • Standard • Value • Religious, domestic, and commercial influences • Synthesis of theory and objective tests via: • Music • Literature • Pictures (Puffer, 1905)

  7. Defining Beauty: Methodology • Methodology (physiological responses & introspection): • Select a salient characteristic of the mental state during exposure to beauty (e.g. art) • Use introspection to analyze the transformation of the physiological response of beauty translates into the mental state • Relation of senses to the colors, lines, compositions, and other elements • Zeitgeist - Structuralism & Elementism (Puffer, 1905)

  8. Conclusions • Nature of beauty: • Auditory, motor, visual, and other physiological responses. • Beauty is not perfection: • Perfect moments (i.e. positive affect). • Union of stimulation (senses) and repose (emotion): • Aesthetic experience (Howes, 1914; Puffer, 1905)

  9. Howes’ Research: Strengths and Weaknesses • Methodological Weaknesses: • Large population • Definition of an aesthetic feeling • Subjective and implicit value judgments • Exposure to many types of beauty • Strengths: • Attempt at using empirical methods of psychology to define concept of beauty • Historically, beauty part of abstract philosophical theory • Beauty provides a sense of unity and totality - self-completeness - creating an aesthetic experience (a reflection of the infinite) (Howes, 1905)

  10. The Role of the Zeitgeist: Career vs. Family “Suppose every man had to cheese between marrying the woman of his choice and instantly becoming a janitor for life, or remaining a bachelor and following the work he loved best” – Charlotte Perkins Gilman, 1906 • Zeitgeist of Early 20th Century: • Gender roles: • Woman as mother, domestic, “socialite” • Man as provider, works outside home • Married women not considered for academic positions (Scarborough & Furumoto, 1987)

  11. Career vs. Family • 1908 – Married Benjamin Howes • Extreme difficulty managing academic career and a home • 1910 Letter to Mother • Gave birth to daughter (1915) and son (1917) • Early 1920s – Women had the vote, WWI over, children reached school age • Published works reflect experience of “the intolerable choice” (Scarborough, 1991)

  12. Accepting the Universe - 1922 • Women’s role in the universe - childbirth the only contribution? • Psychological Disability - inconsecutiveness of the mind • Mental conflicts - Attention for child vs. work (Howes, 1922)

  13. Continuity for Women - 1922 • Women cannot balance marriage and a career simultaneously • Rejected idea that women make full use of abilities as a domestic • Discontinuity: educated woman who marries abandons career • Solution: structure flexible work schedule around role as wife and mother (Howes, 1922b)

  14. Later Theory • Previous solutions aimed at resolving “the intolerable choice” involved centering career around role as wife and mother • Mutually exclusive, sacrifice within career • The meaning of progress in the woman movement (1929) • Solution: create new definition of marriage and motherhood (Howes, 1929)

  15. References • Howes, E. (1922). Accepting the universe. Atlantic Monthly 129, 444-53. • Howes, E. (1914). Æsthetics. Psychological Bulletin, 11(7), 256-262. doi:10.1037/h0075342 • Howes, E. Puffer (1922b). Continuity for women. Atlantic Monthly, 130, 731-39. • Howes, E. Puffer (1929). The meaning of progress in the women movement. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 143, 14-20. • Puffer, E. D. (1905). The psychology of beauty. Boston, MA US: Houghton Mifflin and Company. doi:10.1037/10836000 • Scarborough, E., & Furumoto, L. 1987. Untold Lives: The First Generation of American Women Psychologists. New York: Columbia University Press • Scarborough, E. 1991. Continuity for women: Ethel Puffer's struggle. In G. A. Kimble, M. Wertheimer & C. White Eds., Portraits of Pioneers in Psychology pp. 105-120. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.