Psy 410 history systems
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PSY 410 – History & Systems. Dr. Nancy Alvarado. Welcome to PSY 410. What are systems ? Systems of thought Theoretical perspectives Ways of organizing the core ideas of our field Approaches to developing new knowledge Influences on the development of modern psychology

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PSY 410 – History & Systems

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Psy 410 history systems

PSY 410 – History & Systems

Dr. Nancy Alvarado


Welcome to psy 410

Welcome to PSY 410

  • What are systems?

    • Systems of thought

    • Theoretical perspectives

    • Ways of organizing the core ideas of our field

    • Approaches to developing new knowledge

    • Influences on the development of modern psychology

  • “Systems Psychology” means something different than “psychological systems” – it is a subfield of psychology that studies behavioral systems and their dynamics.


Who are these people

Who are these people?

William James

G. Stanley Hall

Sandra Scarr


Sources for today s lecture

Sources for Today’s Lecture

  • Blackboard Reading 1:

    A History of Modern Psychology (3rd Edition) by C. James Goodwin, Chapter 1 – Introduciung Psychology’s History (p. 1-24).

  • Blackboard Reading 2:

    Timeline of Psychology from inside front and back covers of the Goodwin textbook.


Why do we study history

Why do we study history?

  • Hegel said that the only true lesson of history is that nations have never learned anything from history.

    • The past is too different from the present to offer much help and has little reality to those living in the present.

  • Boring said: “The seats on the train of progress all face backward.”

    • The past does not predict

      the future very well.


To better understand the present

To better understand the present

“Imagine a man who professes over and over his unending love for a woman but who knows nothing about where she was born or who her parents were or where she went to school or what her life had been like until he came along – and furthermore doesn’t care to learn. What would you think of such a person?”David McCullough, 1992


Why is there an apa and an aps

Why is there an APA and an APS?

  • APA = American Psychological Association

  • APS = American Psychological Society = Association for Psychological Science

  • These two organizations reflect the tension between research and practice within psychology.

    • A separate group of “Experimentalists” was formed in 1906

    • The APA’s division structure was created after WWII to accommodate the split.

    • Despite that, researchers seceded from the APA in 1988.


Other reasons

Other reasons

  • The same problems are still with us, for example:

    • Nature-nurture – how heritable are traits such as intelligence, shyness or schizophrenia? Criminality?

  • Science does not proceed directly from error to truth, so the evolution of current thinking is informative – the dialectic of science.

  • An overview of progress gives unity to a highly diverse field – all psychologists share a common history.

  • Psychologists are people who behave in a context.


Recurrent questions

Recurrent Questions

  • Is a science of the mind possible?

    • Comte said no, J.S. Mill said yes, Wundt tried it out.

  • How do we see, perceive and have knowledge of the world?

  • What is the nature and locus of the mind?

  • What is the relationship between mind and body?

  • Nature vs nurture (nativism vs empiricism)

  • See Hothersall text, pg 1.


Hot or not

Hot or Not?

1970’s – Disco Boogie

1950’s – All Hail Rock & Roll

2013 -- Prom


Presentism vs historicism

Presentism vs Historicism

  • Presentism – interpreting the past in terms of the present.

    • Stocking (1965) – use of modern knowledge and values to interpret the past.

    • Was Gordon Allport racist when he referred to “Negroes” or “colored people”? He might be by today’s standards, but not those of his time.

  • Historicism – placing historical events within the overall context of their times.

    • The contextual approach to history.


Psychology is contextual too

Psychology is contextual too.

  • We cannot totally escape presentism because we are embedded in and formed by our experiences, but we can try.

  • It takes a conscious act of empathy and imagination to try to place oneself in a historical context in order to understand behavior of others.

    • This is the same empathy and imagination demanded of therapists who work with people different than themselves, even of another sex.

    • The more you know the better this can be accomplished.


Lessons from the past

Lessons from the Past

  • It takes an act of imagination to identify the assumptions of one’s own time period.

  • Broca was convinced that women were inferior to men because their brains were less developed.

    • He proposed that the difference between male and female brain sizes increased with each generation.

    • Because his views were consistent withthe beliefs of the time, they went unchallenged.


New arrivals at ellis island

New Arrivals at Ellis Island

Immigrants from Norway, 1904/1905


Goddard and ellis island

Goddard and Ellis Island

  • Goddard translated Binet’s IQ test from French to English to screen immigrants upon entry to the USA.

    • Those with low scores were classified as “mentally defective” and denied entry (deported).

    • The test was not validated across cultures.

  • What was he thinking? Why would he do this?

    • Darwinian evolution and Mendelian genetics strongly influenced thinking at the time, IQ was believed inborn.

    • The nation feared being overrun by immigrants.

    • Testing was considered “scientific” and thus infallible.


Internal vs external history

Internal vs External History

  • Internal history – the history of ideas.

    • Traces the development of theories held by different psychologists.

    • Ignores influences outside psychology that have affected the discipline.

  • External history – focuses on those external influences from outside psychology.

    • A broader view that examines societal and economic contexts in which ideas arise.

  • A balance is needed between the two.


Timelines and maps show context

Timelines and Maps show context

  • Goodwin textbook’s timeline for the history of psychology –Blackboard Reading 2.

  • Wikipedia timeline of the history of psychology: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_psychology


Sample timeline

Sample Timeline


An individual person s timeline

An Individual Person’s Timeline


Personal vs naturalistic history

Personal vs Naturalistic History

  • Personal history – sees the actions of individual historical figures as primary.

    • Emphasizes the overall intellectual and cultural climate.

    • Hegel called this the zeitgeist

    • Biographies are important and historical periods are identified by the people who shaped events (eponyms).

  • Our Hothersall textbook takes this approach.

  • Theories in psychology and periods epitomized by certain viewpoints are often named for people originating them – such as Freudian or Skinnerian.


Academic pedigrees

Academic Pedigrees

  • A pedigree is the ancestry of a person or animal (the family tree).

  • In psychology, famous people may have studied with earlier influential figures, so you can trace their lineage.

  • Schools of thought were also organized around institutions where people collaborated (e.g., major universities such as the University of Chicago).

    • This is also a kind of academic pedigree.


My academic tree

My Academic Tree

Abraham RobinsonUCLA (Mathematics)later, Yale Univ.

Silvan TomkinsPrinceton Univ.

Louis NarensUC Irvine (Cognitive Science)

Paul EkmanUCSF

PhD Advisor

Nancy AlvaradoCal Poly Pomona

Postdoctoral Mentor


The alternative view

The Alternative View

  • Naturalistic history – an approach that emphasizes the broader forces of history acting on individuals.

    • Great men are agents of forces beyond their control.

    • Boring promoted this view of psychology, the Goodwin book emphasizes it.

  • Multiple events occur when two people independently create the same theory or discovery.

    • Darwin & Wallace developed identical theories of evolution

  • However, it is mistaken to think of such forces as deterministically controlling ideas, as if people don’t matter.


Critical thinking about history

Critical Thinking about History

  • Primary vs secondary sources.

    • Primary sources are archives of records, correspondence, diaries, speeches, minutes of meetings, unpublished manuscripts and papers.

    • Secondary sources are published analyses or summaries found in journals, magazines, encyclopedias written about some person, event, or time period.

  • Historians are human so their interpretations reflect their beliefs and inevitably affect their work.

    • Postmodernism critiques this bias, but truth can be approached via the combined efforts of historians.


How to study for this course

How to Study for this Course

  • Remember the names of important people.

  • Read the details of the lives of the people in the textbook – use empathy to imagine the times.

  • Always be asking yourself “What did this person contribute to modern psychology?”

    • Each chapter in Hothersall ends with a summary of this.

  • Organize the people into schools of thought and disciplines of psychology, and place on a timeline.

  • Memorize key terms in red (look up meanings too).


Some suggestions

Some Suggestions

  • DO NOT underline your textbook.

    • People tend to underline the main points.

    • When you go back, it is hard to see the text that isn’t underlined, which has the details – so you wind up studying what you already know.

  • DO NOT outline the chapters.

    • Outlines also focus on main points but not details.

  • DO make flash cards and use them to study.

  • DO use practice tests or test yourself from the book.


When something is unfamiliar

When something is unfamiliar

  • Look up words you don’t know using Google or Wikipedia.

  • Ask questions, even in class.

  • Remember that words used in earlier centuries may have had different meanings than they do today.

  • Look up unfamiliar names or terms in the indexes of the textbook and then re-read where that term was first defined or that person was first introduced.


Skimming the book

Skimming the Book

  • Skimming is not reading -- reading occurs with full attention.

  • You may be tempted to believe you already know the content of the textbook’s chapters.

    • Assume that you don’t and read every word.

    • The details in the Hothersall book are not in your other textbooks – you WILL do poorly if you don’t read it.

  • Think about yourself as a future psychologist and the people in the book as if they were your professors, friends or colleagues. Care about them!


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