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Some questions to ponder before starting. Why are psychologists especially interested in studying their history?. There is an enormous diversity within the field of psychology, even a lack of coherence. History is the only way to understand how it came about, and why this makes sense.

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why are psychologists especially interested in studying their history
Why are psychologists especially interested in studying their history?
  • There is an enormous diversity within the field of psychology, even a lack of coherence.
  • History is the only way to understand how it came about, and why this makes sense.
then why is it important for undergraduate psychology students to study the history of their field
Then, why is it important for undergraduate psychology students to study the history of their field?
  • Because if you can see an object's past trajectory, you know where it is headed
  • Understanding psychology's past gives you a way to have a better understanding of psychology's future.
  • Understanding a field's past helps you situate yourself within it.
but is it possible to reconstruct the past
But is it possible to reconstruct the past?
  • Historiography is the field that answers that question.
  • What comes in the way of a correct reconstruction?
how is it that ideas or disciplines evolve over time
How is it that ideas or disciplines evolve over time?
  • Is it because some people are particularly gifted?
  • Is it due to the context, culture, Zeitgeist?
factors that influence how we write history
Factors that influence how we write history
  • Our memory: what happens when people remember. Influences both the selection and the shape of what we tell.
  • The way we understand cultural change (Zeitgeist vs Great People)
  • The cultural biases that cause works and people to be noticed, encouraged or ignored.
  • The way we understand the evolution of science (continuous and deductive (K. Popper) vs discontinuous and inductive (T. Kuhn --paradigm shift)
1 memory

1. Memory

Reflection or reconstruction?

how reliable is your memory
How reliable is your memory?
  • How do we remember stories?
  • Why do we remember what we do?
  • Can we tell the difference between what happen and what is suggested, brought about?
  • Is it possible to create memories of inexistent events?
memory changes the story
Memory changes the story
  • Bartlett studies: uses a story called "War of the Ghosts" that he asks people to remember.
  • He notes that people "reconstruct" stories according to their own pre-existing schemas, and also tend to suppress ambiguities.
  • (See Resource Center pages for more)
we create new memories
We create new memories
  • Elizabeth Loftus (see Resource Center) did many studies showing how easy it is to distort memory and even create memories for events that did not happen.
  • Hence there is a great deal of subjectivity in the "stuff" of history, especially the witness accounts, journals and recollections.
how does science or culture change
How does science or culture change?
  • Is it the work of great people or the work of the Zeitgeist?
  • If Einstein or Darwin or Freud had died during childhood, would another person have carried these ideas? (Most likely)
how does someone become a great person
How does someone become a "Great Person"
  • Why is it Freud, or Darwin, or Einstein who carried those ideas?
  • What characteristics do people need to have to become recognized and eminent?
  • What kinds of people are ignored?
interactions
Interactions
  • The cultural "mood" (Zeitgeist) shapes both
    • The questions asked, topics studied
    • The qualities a person needs to have to be considered " credible".
  • Hence it is a strong influence on how we interpret history.
why is someone s work remembered
Why is someone's work remembered?
  • Because it is exceptional?
  • Is exceptional work sometimes forgotten? Or not noticed in the first place? Why is that?
psychology and racial cultural bias
Psychology and racial/cultural bias
  • Robert V. Guthrie's book Even the Rat Was White describesthe way racism influenced not only who received access to training as a psychologist, but also the very questions that were asked in the field.
psychology and gender bias
Psychology and gender bias
  • Gender bias also rendered women's access to the psychology profession difficult, discounted their contributions (as it did for non-whites), and caused study samples to be all-male.
other biases
Other biases?
  • Are there other biases you can think about that would influence what we notice, how we remember or interpret reality?
how does science progress
How does science progress?
  • Through the systematic accumulation of data, and the disconfirmation of hypotheses?(Popper)
  • Through paradigm shifts?(Kuhn)
  • Does emphasizing one or the other change the way that history is written?

(for more info on Popper and Kuhn, see Resource Center)

are popper and kuhn s views contradictory
Are Popper and Kuhn's views contradictory?
  • No, not necessarily.
  • Popper and Kuhn's views may be different "moments" in the process of the development of science.
  • Popper's views would fit into Piaget's view of "assimilation", and Kuhn's into "accommodation".
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