Some Key Figures in the Development of Psychology: As I discussed in Lecture #1, week 1, the Origins of Psychology had roots in both philosophy and religion. Please re-read lecture if you need to. We will continue this lecture covering some of the more influential figures who help to form the foundations of modern psychology.

            Although early philosophers laid the groundwork for the nature-nurture issues, which continues to be central to explaining human behavior in psychology, today the debate is often framed in terms of heredity [nature] versus environment [nurture]. Think of political or criminal behaviors of people. How do we attribute “causality?” Is it in their “genes” or were they the product of unfortunate environmental influences. Could it be a combination of both? What do you think? Pick an issue or event from you local newspaper/magazine, and using that as an example, be prepared to discuss you personal views on this debate.

            Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1927), is considered the Father of Modern Psychology. He published his landmark text, Principles of Physiological Psychology, in 1874. He is  was most widely know for opening the first psychology research laboratory at the University of Leipzig, Germany in the year 1879. Edward Titchener (1867-1927), who coined the term Structuralism [the first major school of thought in psychology], was originally a student of Wundt. Structuralism emphasized studying the most basic components, or structures, of conscious experiences. Titchener trained subjects in a procedure called introspection. William James (1842-1910) probably one of the most influential figures in psychology was an American physiologist and psychologist at Harvard University. He coined the term, functionalism, which stressed the importance of how behavior functions to allow people and animals to adapt to their environments. Examples would be to apply psychology to areas such as education, child rearing, and the work environment. James was also very influential in getting women into graduate psychology programs. You might say that he was a “civil rights activist” of sorts. G. Stanley Hall (1844-1924) established the first psychology research laboratory in the United States at Johns Hopkins University in 1883. He began publishing the American Journal of Psychology. In 1892, Hall founded and was elected the first president of the American Psychological Association (APA).  Mary Whiton Calkins (1863-1930) was an American psychologist who conducted research on memory, personality, and dreams and established a psychology research laboratory at Wellesley College in 1891. She also wrote a very well-received textbook titled, Introduction to Psychology; she was the first woman to be elected president of the APA in 1905. Margaret Floy Washburn (1871-1939) was the first American woman to officially earn a Ph.D in psychology. In 1908, she published an influential text titled The Animal Mind. Keep in mind that during these times it was considered a “Woman’s Place” to be in the home [married] and not attend an institution of higher learning. Yes, psychology had it’s golden years of “sexism” and “racism”too.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was and Austrian physician and the founder of psychoanalysis. Ever make a “Freudian Slip?”(smile)  Freud basically felt that ALL human behavior could be explained and was motivated by unconscious conflicts. These conflicts were almost always sexual or aggressive in nature. Also, central to Freud’s thinking was the strong influence from our past experiences, especially childhood experiences as critical to the formation of adult personality and behavior.


 John B.Watson (1878-1958) founded Behaviorism, which emphasized the study of observable behavior rejecting the Freudian notion of inner [subjective explanations of behaviors] experiences. In the early 1900s, Behaviorism emerged as a dominating force in a psychology which focused on overt behavior accompanied by rewards and/or punishments. Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) was a Russian physiologist who pioneering research on learning helped contributed to the development of behaviorism; Pavlov discovered a basic learning process [using a dog, food and a bell],  called Classical Conditioning [learning through association]. B.F. Skinner (1904-1990), an American professor at Harvard University, carried behaviorism even further. Skinner utilized Operant Conditioning which according to Skinner, could explain the actions of both animals and people. Carl Rogers (1902-1987) founded the school of thought called, Humanistic psychology. Rogers approach was distinctly different from both psychoanalysis and behaviorism that it was often referred to as the “third force” in American psychology. Among other contributions with the field of group therapy, Rogers shared the importance of “empathy,” “unconditional positive regard,” and “conditional positive regard.” He also stressed the importance of conscious experiences, including each person’s unique potential for psychological growth and self-direction. Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) was the American humanistic psychologist who developed a theory of motivation that emphasized a “hierarchy of needs” which ALL human beings aspire towards.


ASSIGNMENT: Chapter One:  (1) Learn about Forensic Psychology which is relatively new and not covered in the textbook. Check out the Web site: http://www.unl.edu/apIs.  What did you find here? (2) Thinking in terms of your own behavior, could you study behavior and mental processes from only one perspective? Which one would you most likely pick? Why?