To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
During the first decades of the twentieth century, Gestalt psychology provided a major alternative and challenge to structuralism (Chapter 5), functionalism (Chapter 10), and behaviorism (Chapter 13). Founded in Germany by successors to the psychologists discussed in Chapter 6, Gestalt psychology moved west in the 1930s and became an important influence on the development of American psychology. Gestalt is a German word that means shape or form. Initially the three founders of Gestalt psychology, Max Wertheimer, Kurt Koffka, and Wolfgang Köhler, were interested in perception. Later their interests broadened to include learning, problem-solving, and cognition. One of their colleagues, Kurt Lewin, adopted a Gestalt approach in an innovative field theory, which he employed to address a wide variety of topics and concerns in child development, industrial management, rehabilitation, and social psychology. The term Gestalt has entered the English language and is widely used by psychologists and non-psychologists to refer to the whole of something.1
As we have seen, the laboratory psychology tradition, using controlled experimentation, originated in Germany. The German psychologists used experiments to find general laws of how the human mind worked, and psychologists like Edward Titchener brought that tradition to the United States. A very different tradition started in Britain, where the methods used were only rarely controlled laboratory experiments, and instead careful observation in natural settings was preferred. The British tradition also emphasizes individual differences rather than general laws. In this chapter, we cover the pioneering work of the British cousins Charles Darwin and Francis Galton. We discuss Darwin’s work on biological evolution but also his psychological ideas, particularly in regard to emotion. Galton’s mind meandered across many disciplines, from meteorology to criminology, but fortunately for psychologists, he contributed research methods, data analysis techniques, and important findings besides.
Hothersall and Lovett's History of Psychology is a lively survey of the evolution of the field from 1850 to the present. Built around the lives of fascinating thinkers who proposed bold new ways of studying human behavior and mental processes, and telling the true stories behind their famous experiments, this textbook provides students with an intimate understanding of how psychology came to be what it is today. Thoroughly updated with the latest historical scholarship, the fifth edition includes greater focus on the contributions of women and people of color, and a new chapter on the late twentieth century and the cognitive revolution. It also features updated pedagogy such as chapter discussion questions and unique archival photographs, while instructor resources include a test bank, lecture slides, and an instructor manual.
The last decades of the nineteenth century in the United States saw greater educational opportunities and increased support for science and learning. Legislation for public universities had first passed in 1858 but was vetoed by President Buchanan. More successful was an act sponsored by Senator Justin Morrill of Vermont and signed by President Lincoln on July 2, 1862. Senatorial opponents of the Bill from southern states had left Congress at the beginning of the Civil War. The Morrill Act’s goal was to make higher education available to all young people in the United States who had the desire and ability to profit from a college education. In the words of the act:
To promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes primarily in the areas of agriculture and mechanics.
(Morrill Act, 1862, Public Law 37–108, p. 1)
Grants of 30,000 acres of federal land for each member of Congress were made to the states. Proceeds from the land sales were to be invested in “safe stocks to yield not less than 5%.” Those funds would finance the new people’s universities and pay their students’ fees. Not all states chose to exercise this land grant option. But in those that did we see today universities with either the words Agriculture and Mechanics (A & M) or State in their names. Their land grant heritage is uniquely American. For their students, land grant universities were a path to a better life, to the American dream. One student recalled: “The classrooms were bare, the chairs and desks of the plainest. But as against that were the students. We knew it as a Gospel truth that this plain College was for each of us a passport to a higher and enabled life” (Jennings, 1989).
With its founder John Watson exiled from psychology, behaviorism might have been expected to decline in importance and influence. But that was not the case. Watson’s behaviorism was modified and expanded but his rejection of consciousness, his definition of psychology as the “science of behavior,” and his insistence on objective, observational data – his methodological behaviorism – were accepted by the three neobehaviorist psychologists presented in this chapter. Edward Tolman, Clark Hull, and B. F. Skinner dominated American psychology from 1940 to 1970 in an extremely productive period of behavioral theory and research (Jenkins, 1979). In this chapter, we cover the work of these three psychologists. Although they were all neobehaviorists, their approaches were quite different from each other. As you read about these three scientists, compare and contrast their ideas; consider what core behavioral elements they had in common, as well as what made each theory unique.
In Chapter 8, we discussed Sir Francis Galton‘s attempts to measure intelligence with simple tasks of sensory discrimination and motor coordination. We then discussed how James McKeen Cattell tried to validate the Galtonian approach in the United States, with disappointing results. Meanwhile, a very different tradition of cognitive assessment was developing in France, and its adoption in England and the United States was far more permanent, although not without controversy. In this chapter we consider the growth and evolution of this second tradition. We start with Alfred Binet, a French psychologist who developed the first modern-style psychological tests designed to measure intelligence. We then see how his tests were brought to the United States and used for a wide variety of purposes, some of them far from Binet’s intentions. We explore the work of Henry Goddard, Lewis Terman, and Robert Yerkes in detail before finishing with some of the more recent controversies over IQ testing.
Functionalism was the first American school of psychology. Structuralism and Gestalt psychology were influential in the United States, but they were imports from abroad. Functionalism was American in origin, approach, and character. Unlike structuralism, with Titchener as its leader, functionalism did not have a single leader. There is even some question as to whether functionalism was ever a formal school of psychology. But there is no doubt as to the influence and importance of the psychologists, loosely described as functionalists, presented in this chapter. As you read about the work of the functionalists, consider what unifies them. What ideas do they have in common?
In 1910, Hermann Ebbinghaus famously described psychology as having “a long past but only a short history” (p. 9). By “history,” Ebbinghaus was apparently referring to the brief period of time when experimental psychologists had been consciously working as members of a new, official discipline; the first psychology laboratory had been opened only about thirty years before his comment. By “past,” Ebbinghaus seemed to reference the age-old questions about human behavior and experience that psychologists study; for thousands of years, scholars had been debating and writing about these topics. If you have taken other courses in psychology, you are likely already familiar with some of these questions, and it is helpful to consider them as we take a brief tour through the history of psychology.
This book has reviewed the development of psychology from its roots in philosophy; through the great advances in physiology and other life sciences in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries; and finally Wilhelm Wundt’s founding of psychology as an independent science late in the nineteenth century. Since then many psychologists have been part of the “short history” of the field. In considering some of them we have emphasized not only their theoretical, empirical, and practical contributions to psychology but also their lives and careers, successes and failures, triumphs and frustrations.
In the last chapter, we covered the work of philosophers and scientists who laid the foundations for psychology as a discipline. However, there is one area of science that is even closer to psychology and that also has long roots: neuroscience. In the present chapter we consider the history of neuroscience, focusing on work that was particularly influential on psychology. Much of that work can be divided into two questions. First, what are the relationships between anatomy (structure) and physiology (function) for specific behavioral phenomena? That is, where in the nervous system do different activities take place? What parts of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves do what? This is sometimes known as the localization problem. Second, what are the dynamic processes that the nervous system uses to transmit information? What are the specific chemical and electrical mechanisms that enable communication through the nervous system?
Psychology began as an independent scientific discipline in the late nineteenth century. However, it built on the philosophical insights and scientific accomplishments of the prior centuries. In this chapter, we cover that background. We start by describing the work of the early scientists Galileo, Newton, and Harvey; their faith in the ability of human reason and careful observation to understand how the natural world works continues to inspire scientists today. We then discuss important traditions of “modern” philosophy, where reason and observation were similarly important – indeed, the philosophers often disagreed about the roles of these two processes in attaining knowledge, as we will see. As you read about each scientist and philosopher, consider how their own reasoning is similar to that of psychological researchers today, thinking through complex phenomena to understand the principles behind a wide variety of our experiences in the world.
Edward Titchener and Hugo Münsterberg earned their PhDs with Wundt then emigrated to the United States in 1892. Each man directed a major psychological laboratory, Titchener at Cornell, and Münsterberg at Harvard. They lived the remainder of their lives in the United States. Though neither became an American citizen, they were both influential figures in American psychology. There, however, the similarity ends.
Psychology is often defined as the study of the mind, or as William James (1890) put it, “the science of mental life.” However, during the behaviorist and neobehaviorist eras, many psychologists were hesitant to make such a description. Some of B. F. Skinner’s followers tried hard to avoid using any mental terms (e.g., think), even in casual conversation, and behaviorism’s founder John B. Watson had asserted that he was not even sure what those terms meant. However, after World War II, developments both in psychology and in other disciplines led to a major change, a return to explicitly and openly studying the mental processes by which conscious and deliberate behavior emerges. This change is often known as the cognitive revolution (e.g., Gardner, 1985).1 Cognitive approaches to psychology are very popular now, to the point where they are often taken for granted. In this chapter we consider how that change came about, and then discuss some even more recent developments in the field. As you read, consider the following questions: How did advances outside of psychology lead to pushback against behaviorism and the emergence of a general cognitive perspective? What was early cognitive psychology like, and what features of behaviorism has it retained? What do cognitive perspectives look like across different areas of psychology, and what recent trends have followed in the past few decades?