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PSY_C011/2/3:17 Page 2 The Science of Psychology 1 CHAPTER OUTLINE LEARNING OBJECTIVES INTRODUCTION PINNING DOWN PSYCHOLOGY PSYCHOLOGY AND COMMON SENSE: THE GRANDMOTHER CHALLENGE Putting common sense to the test Explaining human behaviour THE BEGINNINGS OF MODERN PSYCHOLOGY Philosophical inﬂuences Physiological inﬂuences PSYCHOLOGY TODAY Functionalism: mental accomplishment Behaviourism: a totally objective psychology Gestalt psychology: making connections Out of school: the independents The cognitive revolution FINAL THOUGHTS SUMMARY REVISION QUESTIONS FURTHER READING PSY_C01.qxd 1/2/05 3:17 pm Page 3 Learning Objectives By the end of this chapter you should appreciate that: n psychology is much more than ‘common sense’; n psychological knowledge can be usefully applied in many different professions and walks of life; n psychology emerged as a distinct discipline around 150 years ago, from its roots in physiology, physics and philosophy; n there are fundamental differences between different schools of thought in psychology; n psychology is the science of mental life and behaviour, and different schools of thought within psychology place differing degrees of emphasis on understanding these different elements of psychology; n most academic departments in the English-speaking world focus on the teaching of experimental psychology, in which scientiﬁc evidence about the structure and function of the mind and behaviour accumulates through the execution of empirical investigations; n in the history of psychology many different metaphors have been used for thinking about the workings of the human mind, and since the Second World War the most inﬂuential of these metaphors has been another complex information-processing device – the computer. INTRODUCTION Psychology is often deﬁned as ‘the science of But does this expanded deﬁnition cover the behaviour’. Certainly, psychologists invest a con- wide range of phenomena studied by psycholo- siderable amount of time and effort in observing gists – including topics you might not expect and measuring behaviour. But they are also inter- to ﬁnd in a psychology textbook, like thirst, vision ested in what people say about their experiences. and hearing (chapters 5, 7 and 8)? Rather than studying a person’s behaviour in iso- Ask yourself: ‘Who am I?’ You might mention lation, they use the behaviour to ﬁnd out about many aspects of yourself when you answer this mental and biological processes, motives and per- question, including your personality, your experi- sonality traits. Therefore a deﬁnition of psychology ences, your sexual preferences, age, physical as ‘the science of behaviour’ is inadequate. characteristics, aspirations, attitudes, social con- So, what is psychology? One way to answer this tacts and so on. All of these are of interest to psy- question is to start with the word itself. ‘Psycho- chologists (see chapters 10, 14 and 17). As if logy’ literally means ‘science of the mind’ (psycho this were not enough, they would also be inter- meaning ‘mind’, or ‘mental’, and -logy meaning ested in things that you are unlikely to mention, ‘science’). A better deﬁnition of psychology might like your physiology (especially processes in your be ‘the science of behaviour and mental pro- nervous system), genetic make-up, and mental cesses’, and indeed this is the deﬁnition offered processes that are outside your conscious aware- in most introductory psychology textbooks. ness (see chapters 3, 5 and 7). PSY_C01.qxd 1/2/05 3:17 pm Page 4 4 The Science of Psychology Here is a selection of the many activities that psychologists engage in and the settings in which they do so: n Teaching and developing training pro- grammes (universities, colleges, hospitals, industry, government) n Scientiﬁc research (universities, private and government research institutes, industry) n Diagnosis and treatment of emotional and behavioural problems (hospitals, community service agencies, private practice) n Personality testing, vocational testing and test development (personnel departments of organizations, consulting ﬁrms) Figure 1.1 n Advising government on policies (all levels Psychologists engage in a wide range of activities, including helping athletes to improve their performance. of government) n Diagnosis and treatment of learning difﬁcult- ies, emotional and behavioural problems that impair education (nurseries, schools, special education units, universities) n Designing machines, computers, systems (e.g. Given this diversity of activities it should be assembly lines), trafﬁc signs etc. that are no surprise that it is impossible to identify a optimal for human use (industry, government) common set of characteristics (or even a single characteristic) that sets psychologists apart from n Providing expertise to the legal system (prisons, courts, consulting ﬁrms) sociologists, anthropologists, biologists and so n Developing advertising and marketing strat- on. What does this mean for you, as you begin your study of psychology? It means that the sub- egies (business) n Helping athletes improve performance (pro- ject you have chosen to explore is more complex fessional sports teams, government sports than it might appear at ﬁrst sight – which makes it all the more fascinating. institutes) PINNING DOWN PSYCHOLOGY and behaviour/mind, cognit- cognitive psychology examines ive psychology looks at basic mental processes, and so on. fundamental mental processes such as perception, thinking, memory, developmental psychology the study To begin with, psychology Here is a list of the many sub-language of age-related changes across the life is not a single enterprise. ﬁelds of psychology: Rather, it is a coalition of span specialities, each identiﬁed Abnormal psychology: Nature and development of abnormal by the adjective that precedes behaviour, thoughts, feelings associated with distress or the word ‘psychology’. So, impaired functioning that is not a culturally expected clinical psychology focuses on the for example, developmental response to an event (see chapter 15) causes and treatment of psychological psychology encompasses age- Behaviour genetics: Impact of heredity on animal and human disorders and adjustment problems related changes across the behaviour (see chapter 13) such as depression and phobias lifespan, clinical psychology Clinical psychology: Diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of focuses on the causes and mental disorders and disabilities (see chapters 14, 15 and 16) treatment of psychological Cognitive neuroscience: Neuronal basis of mental processes disorders and adjustment (see chapter 3) physiological psychology investig- ates the association between the brain problems, physiological psy- Cognitive psychology: Study of the processes by which and behaviour chology investigates the asso- sensory information is transformed, reduced, elaborated, ciation between physiology stored, retrieved and used (see chapters 8, 11 and 12) PSY_C01.qxd 1/2/05 3:17 pm Page 5 Pinning down Psychology 5 5 Community psychology: Person–environment interactions Neuropsychology: Study of the impact of disorders of the and the ways society impacts upon individual and commun- nervous system (especially the brain) on behaviour (see ity functioning. Focuses on social issues, social institutions, chapters 3, 5 and 7) and other settings that inﬂuence individuals, groups, and Organizational psychology: Study of structures and functions organizations. Emphasizes changing social systems to pre- of organizations and the activities of the people within vent psychological problems (see chapters 17, 18 and 19) them. Included in its remit are job satisfaction, employee Comparative psychology: The study of behaviour in different attitudes and motivation, and their effects on absenteeism, species (see chapters 3, 4 and 5) labour turnover, and organizational productivity and Consumer psychology: The effects of advertising, marketing, efﬁciency (see chapter 20) packaging, and display on the behaviour of purchasers (see Personality psychology/Individual Differences: Study of char- chapter 17) acteristics that make each person unique (see chapter 14) Counselling psychology: Traditionally associated with the ﬁeld Social psychology: Investigation of the reciprocal inﬂuence of of education, counselling psychology may include voca- the individual and his or her social context (see chapters 17, tionalguidance as well as helping persons resolve problems 18 and 20) or role issues related to work or school or family matters Sport/exercise psychology: Reciprocal effects of psychological (see chapter 16) factors on sports/exercise Cross-cultural psychology: Impact of culture on human behaviour (see chapters 13 and 18) The numerous specialities make psychology a wide-reaching sub- Developmental psychology: Change in behavioural and ject with rather fuzzy boundaries. So, you may well ask, ‘What is mental processes over the life span (see chapters 9 and 10) the glue that holds psychology together as a discipline?’ Developmental psychopathology: The origins and course of If there is any one thing, it individual patterns of behavioural maladaptation whatever is psychology’s reliance on a empiricism the belief that knowledge the age of onset, causes or transformations in behavioural philosophical view known as manifestation (see chapter 15) empiricism.Empiricists believe comes from observation and experience, Educational psychology (also called school psychology): that knowledge comes from and sensory experience is the source of all knowledge Diagnosis and treatment of educational, emotional, and observation and experience behavioural problems in children and teenagers (see chap- (the Greek empeiria literally ters 9 and 10) means ‘experience’). This viewpoint tells us that all hypotheses Environmental psychology: Relationships between human about human functioning should have an observable conse- behaviour and the physical environment (see chapters 7, 8 quence, which can be conﬁrmed or refuted by data collection and and 19) statistical testing (see chapter 2). Ergonomic psychology (also called human factors and engineer- Psychologists are therefore united by their commitment to ing psychology): Design of tasks, equipment, and work places empirical research as a means of achieving their shared goal of to maximize performance and well-being and to minimize understanding, predicting and changing human behaviour. To fatigue, boredom and accidents (see chapter 20) this end, they study not only humans but numerous other species Evolutionary psychology: Applies an evolutionary perspective too, including fruit ﬂies, cockroaches, rats, cats, dogs, horses and to understanding human behaviour and mental processes our closest relative, the chimpanzee. Some psychologists use a (see chapters 4 and 5) laboratory, and others study creatures in their natural habitat. Family psychology: Study of the family as a system, and of Another way to address our question is to look for overlap relationships within the system (see chapter 16) in the content of various psychology textbooks. A psychologist Forensic and criminological psychology: Psychological aspects called J.D. Matarazzo did this, and found a consensus on ‘the core of legal processes and crimes (see chapter 21) content in every generation since 1890’ (1987, p. 895), despite Health psychology: Lifestyle and physical health, the identiﬁca- dramatic increases in knowledge base. Four major content areas tion of psychological causes and correlates of health and ill- were represented over this 100-year period: ness, psychological aspects of health promotion and the prevention and treatment of illness (see chapter 19) 1. biological bases of behaviour, Mathematical/quantitative psychology: Development of 2. cognitive and affective processes, mathematical models of behaviour and derivation of 3. developmental processes, and statistical methods for analysing data collected by psy- 4. social bases of behaviour. chologists (see chapter 2) Medical psychology (also referred to as behavioural However, several studies also found that consensus on a medicine): Psychological aspects of medical practice, the core vocabulary is lacking (Landrum, 1993; Quereshi, 1993; doctor–patient relationship, reactions to medical advice, Zechmeister & Zechmeister, 2000). It appears that our diversity improving treatment compliance. Psychological issues that has resulted in a number of different dialects rather than a single arise in medical treatment of children and adolescents common language. have given rise to the ﬁeld of pediatric psychology (see Why the difﬁculty in pinning down psychology? And why the chapters 3 and 19) diversity in vocabulary used to discuss the various aspects? Is the PSY_C01.qxd 1/2/05 3:17 pm Page 6 6 The Science of Psychology language we use simply a smoke screen to turn psychology into (a) True a science, when it is really little more than common sense? (b) False 2. What percentage of people would administer a potentially lethal shock to another person when instructed to do so by an authority ﬁgure? PSYCHOLOGY AND COMMON SENSE: (a) 80–90 per cent THE GRANDMOTHER CHALLENGE (b) 50–60 per cent (c) 20–30 per cent Everyone engages, to a greater or lesser degree, in the task of (d) 1–2 per cent understanding human behaviour. Does that mean everyone is a 3. Animals process information in the same way that people psychologist? do. (a) True Yes, in the sense that everyone has ideas about what lies behind the behaviours he or she encounters in the world. Some- (b) False times these ideas are easily expressed, but sometimes they are 4. Schizophrenics suffer from a split personality. implicit and beyond conscious awareness. Implicit personality (a) True most of the time (b) True some of the time theories, for example, describe the unarticulated expectations we have about relationships between traits. If you see John as daring, (c) True none of the time you are likely to assume that he is also fearless and conﬁdent, (d) True only when the schizophrenic is undergoing as these traits are closely related in our implicit theories of per- treatment 5. The principles of learning that apply to ﬁsh also apply to: sonality (Rosenberg, Nelson & Vivekananthan, 1968; see also chapter 14). (a) humans So, can scientiﬁc psychology tell us more than our own grand- (b) birds mother, who has spent many years observing human behaviour? (c) neither (a) nor (b) Surely scientiﬁc psychology is just common sense? The fact is that (d) both (a) and (b) ‘all sciences arise as reﬁnement, corrections and adaptations of 6. If you need help from a bystander, you are more likely to common sense’ (Oppenheimer, 1956, p. 128), and common sense receive it if there are only one or two people nearby. ‘is the datum from which it [science] starts and to which it must (a) True recur’ (Whitehead, 1949, p. 110). In this regard, psychology is no (b) False 7. If you want a person to perform some action at a very different from any other science. One of the pioneers of modern social psychology, Fritz Heider, viewed the task of psychology as high rate, you should reward the action every time it the systematization of common sense. But does it offer us any- occurs. thing more? (a) True (b) False Perhaps it is because psychology includes the study of obvious, everyday phenomena, that we are tempted to infer that it offers us little more than common sense. But common sense, or intuit- Now check the answers on p. 23. ive psychology, offers us an understanding of human behaviour Let us look in more detail at perhaps the most dramatic ques- that can be incoherent and is often contradictory. Consider these tion – concerning the administration of a potentially lethal shock proverbs, which embody our collective wisdom about human to another person. Psychiatrists, middle-class adults and univer- behaviour: ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ vs. ‘many hands sity students alike estimated that only one or two people in 1000 make light work’; ‘out of sight, out of mind’ vs. ‘absence makes would administer a potentially lethal shock. the heart grow fonder’, and so on. It is not that each proverb does In one of the best known psychology studies, Milgram (1963; not offer an insight. The issue is to determine systematically the 1977; see also chapter 18) devised a series of experiments on obedi- conditions under which each insight holds true. ence to authority in which pairs of participants were divided into ‘teachers’ and ‘learners’. In reality, the learner was always a con- federate – someone who works in collusion with the experi- menter. The teacher – who knew nothing of the collusion – was P UTTING COMMON SENSE TO THE TEST asked to administer an electric shock to the learner whenever he or she made a mistake in the learning task. Initial mistakes Would you administer a lethal shock? resulted in low levels of shock, but as incorrect responses increased, so did the intensity of the shock. Let us put our common sense to the test. Answer the following By the time a 270 volt shock was administered, the learner questions simply on the basis of common sense: was screaming, supposedly in agony, and at 300 volts was pound- ing on the wall in protest and refusing to answer questions. The 1. Happily married spouses are characterized by their tend- teacher was instructed that silence should be considered an ency to reciprocate positive partnering behaviours towards incorrect response and to administer the shock. When told to each other. administer a potentially lethal shock (450 volts), about half the PSY_C01.qxd 1/2/05 3:17 pm Page 7 Psychology and Common Sense 7 ﬁndings reported in this book. You may feel you hindsight bias falsely overestimating the probability with which we would knew all along that this was have predicted an outcome after we the way humans behaved. know it has already occurred Such a response may reﬂect a cognitive heuristic called the hindsight bias. According to this bias, we sometimes falsely over- estimate the probability with which we would have predicted an outcome (see also chapter 12). In a well known study, Fischhoff and Beyth (1975) had people predict the likelihood of various outcomes when President Nixon visited China and the Soviet Union. After the trip, they were asked to again make the same predictions but to ignore what had actually happened. People estimated the probability of outcomes that actually occurred as higher than they did before the trip. Even when they were told about this hindsight bias and urged to Figure 1.2 avoid it, the bias remained. The hindsight bias has implications for forensic psychology, Human participants were obedient to the point of being mur- derous in Milgram’s controversial experiment. which involves the ‘examination and presentation of evidence for judicial purposes’ (Blackburn, 1996; see also chapter 21). How effective is it when a judge – as judges are prone to do – tells a jury to ignore certain evidence, after they have heard it, when reaching a verdict? participants (in one study it was as high as 68 per cent) obeyed. Once you accept that psychology has more to offer than your In other words, there was a 250- to 500-fold difference between grandmother when it comes to understanding human behaviour, the common sense answer and the evidence of psychological you might legitimately ask, ‘How do psychologists – as opposed research. to my grandmother – explain human behaviour?’ Human behaviour is complex E XPLAINING HUMAN BEHAVIOUR If you felt uneasy reading about what Milgram did to participants in his studies, you are not alone. In addition to what it tells us Imagine you are a psychologist interested in understanding a about obedience to authority, Milgram’s research was an import- particular kind of behaviour, such as human aggression. What ant stimulus for developing clearer guidelines regarding the would you look at to advance your understanding? Brain cells ethical treatment of participants in psychological research. The and hormones? Inherited characteristics? Socialization by parents? role of ethics is discussed in chapter 2. The stimuli that precede aggressive behaviour? Although the studies demonstrate the power of social norms Psychologists pursue all these avenues in their attempt to (in this case the norm of obedience to authority), they attracted, explain human behaviour. Some look inside the person for and rightly, severe ethical criticism (Baumrind, 1964). Milgram causes of behaviour, focusing on physical events such as physio- (1964; 1977) responded by arguing that participants were care- logical functioning. As a result, we now know that compulsive fully and sensitively debriefed – in other words, after the experi- violence is associated with tumours and damage in a particular ment, they were told about its true nature. He reported that his region of the brain – the temporal lobe (Elliot, 1988). Others ‘teachers’ were greatly relieved, rather than upset, and believed look for causes of aggression in hypothetical mental activity. that the research had been worthwhile. In a follow-up several From this approach, we have learned that aggressive behavi- months later, 84 per cent reported feeling positive about their our is more likely to occur when the person producing the participation, 15 per cent reported neutral feelings, and 1 per cent aggressive behaviour infers that they have experienced some- described negative feelings. thing negative due to a volitional act of another person (Weiner, Milgram’s critics questioned this response, arguing that the 1986). debrieﬁng might have eroded the participants’ trust of others Yet other psychologists will look to the environment for causal and that learning they were capable of committing such harm explanations. They may focus on events or stimuli that precede may have damaged their self-esteem (Schlenker & Forsyth, an aggressive act or on a general environmental state. From 1977). them we have learned that children acquire aggressive behaviour This exercise ought to have convinced you that psychology by observing it in models (see ﬁgure 1.3) and that high ambient has more to offer than your grandmother when it comes to temperature is associated with naturally occurring aggression. understanding the complexities of human behaviour. Even so, Hotter regions of the world witness more aggression than cooler at times you may ﬁnd yourself unimpressed by some of the regions, and hotter years, seasons and days, in comparison to PSY_C01.qxd 1/2/05 3:17 pm Page 8 8 The Science of Psychology 25 cooler ones, are more likely to produce assaults, murders, rapes, riots and spouse abuse (Anderson, 1987). It should now be apparent that there is no single explana- 20 tion for aggressive behaviour. Confusion can be avoided if we accept that each explanation is useful in its own way. The variety 15 of approaches that psychologists have taken in explaining beha- viour is illustrated in the next section, which brieﬂy outlines the evolution of psychology from philosophy to a behavioural 10 science. There are two reasons why you should be familiar with the his- tory of your subject: 5 Mean imitative aggressive response 1. Ignorance of psychology’s past leaves you unable to evalu- ate the signiﬁcance of new developments and perhaps even 0 Live Film Cartoon Non- No model model model aggressive model to mistake old facts and viewpoints as new. model 2. The vastness of psychology can be both intimidating and confusing as you try to draw connections between vari- ous concepts and approaches. Seemingly unrelated topics Figure 1.3 may be intricately bound together through their historical Mean imitative aggressive responses by children who were development, so an appreciation of psychology’s past can exposed to aggressive models, non-aggressive models or no help you to integrate the many different areas and sub- models. Source: Hewstone and Stroebe (2001), based on Bandura (1973). specialities that make up modern psychology. Resear ch close-up 1 The bystander effect The research issue Emergencies happen every day all around the world. The most publicized emergency ever seen erupted in New York City on September 11, 2001. The Red Cross, Salvation Army, paramedics and many other humanitarian groups rushed to help the sick and injured while the 9/11 attacks were still taking place. One might reasonably suppose that the nature of humans is to help others when they are in trouble. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. ‘Bystander apathy’ occurs when people witness an emergency and take no action. In the Kitty Genovese murder in the United States in 1964, 38 neighbours apparently watched and listened but did not act to help or call police. Although shocking, these neighbours’ reactions were not unusual. Why do people who are willing to help in non-emergency situations not do so in an emergency? First, there are few potentially positive rewards in an emergency situation. Life is threatened for the victims and the helpers. Second, emergencies usually come without warning and place the potential helper under a great deal of stress. People’s reactions are typically untrained and unrehearsed. A potential intervener must make a series of decisions. She must notice the event and interpret it as an emergency. She must then decide if she has a responsibility to act and, if so, how. Should she help directly or call the police? Finally, she must decide how to implement the action. Of course, in a real emergency a person is highly unlikely to be so rational. Furthermore, while the victim may gain the status of a hero, the person who comes to his aid risks being a failure, getting sued, or even being attacked or wounded herself. Here are just two experiments that have examined the bystander effect. Experiment 1 Design and procedure Latané and Darley (1969) had participants ﬁll out questionnaires in a room to which smoke was added. In condition 1 the participant was alone. In condition 2, three naive participants were in the room. In condition 3, confederates purposely noticed, but then ignored, the smoke. PSY_C01.qxd 1/2/05 3:17 pm Page 9 The Beginnings of Modern Psychology 9 Results and implications In condition 1, 75 per cent of participants calmly noticed the smoke and left the room to report it. But in condition 2 only 10 per cent reported the smoke. In condition 3, 38 per cent reported the smoke. Most participants had similar reactions. Those who did not report the smoke all concluded that it was not dangerous or was part of the experiment. No one attributed their inactivity to the presence of others in the room. Other related research studies have shown that togetherness reduces perception of fear even when the actual danger is not reduced. It may be that people in groups are less afraid and less likely to act. On the other hand, they may be simply inhibited from showing fear in a group situation. From post-experimental interviews, it became clear that participants did not act because they concluded the situation was not threatening. Experiment 2 Design and procedure This experiment tested what people would do if they witnessed an emergency knowing that others are present but not being able to see or hear them, and vice versa. The researchers placed a naive student participant in a room and told them that they were to talk to others via an inter- com about normal personal problems. Participants were told that there were other student participants who were similarly located in isolated rooms (to preserve anonymity). One of the other students (a confederate of the experimenter) becomes a ‘victim’ who suffers a seizure and calls out audibly for help. The key question was whether the participant would leave his or her cubicle to assist the victim. The researchers varied the perceived number of people, with participants talking in groups of two, three or six people. They also varied the two-person discussion group by changing the characteristics of the other bystander (female, male, or a medical student with emergency training). Finally, two more conditions were set up: one with the participant and a real friend as bystanders, and one where the six participants had had prior contact and a brief ‘encounter’ with the perceived victim. Results and implications Ninety-ﬁve per cent of all participants responded within the ﬁrst 3 minutes, 85 per cent of participants who perceived them- selves to be alone left their cubicle before the victim ﬁnished calling for help, but only 31 per cent who thought there were four other bystanders acted so quickly. Overall, 100 per cent of participants in the two-real-person condition acted to deal with the emergency, but only 62 per cent of participants in the six-person condition took action. The gender and medical competence of bystanders had no effect on the results. But being in the presence of a friend signiﬁcantly increased the speed of response. It seems that personal responsibility diffuses across strangers but does not diffuse across friends. In addition, people who had brieﬂy met the victim previously were signiﬁcantly more likely to respond more quickly to their pleas. Even those who did not respond to the emergency showed signs of genuine concern. They were often nervous and trem- bling, and seemed to be in a state of indecision about responding. Taken together, these experiments show there are strong situational factors that can inhibit people from acting in emer- gencies. These ﬁndings have important implications for predicting, understanding and perhaps even controlling how people behave in social situations. Latané, B., & Darley, J., 1969, ‘Bystander “apathy”’, American Scientist, 57, 244–68. A major breakthrough occurred when the tools of science THE BEGINNINGS OF MODERN (carefully controlled observation and experimentation) were PSYCHOLOGY applied to the study of humans, and psychology began to emerge as a distinct entity. Where does the history of psychology begin? Humans have long been intrigued by their own behaviour, and attempts to understand human functioning can be traced to early P HILOSOPHICAL INFLUENCES Greek philosophers. But until the last quarter of the nineteenth century, this endeavour was pursued through speculation, intui- The notion that the methods of science could be applied to men- tion and generalizations made on the basis of an individual’s tal phenomena emerged from sixteenth and seventeenth century experience. European philosophy. PSY_C01.qxd 1/2/05 3:17 pm Page 10 10 The Science of Psychology The relationship between body and mind only positive facts and observable phenomena. He believed that social life is governed by laws and principles that we can dis- The work of French philosopher and mathematician René cover through the methods used in the physical sciences. It was Descartes (1596–1650) led to many of the later trends in psycho- only a matter of time before the methods of science were applied logy. Reﬂecting the spirit of his times, Descartes subscribed to the to the study of mental phenomena conceived of in mechanistic terms. idea of mechanism – an image of the universe as a machine and physical entities as mechanical devices. Descartes applied this A third important philosophical tradition, this time rooted view to animals, including humans, setting humans apart from in England, facilitated this application. Empiricism, as we animals only by their possession of a ‘mind’. noted earlier, sees sensory experience as the source of all know- ledge and provided psychology with both method and theory. Since Plato, most philosophers had viewed the body and the mind (or soul or spirit) as fundamentally different in nature. The method was observation and, to a lesser extent, experi- Descartes accepted this dual- mentation. The theory concerned the growth of the mind, ism. But prior to Descartes, which was seen to occur through the accumulation of sensory dualism the view that the body and the experience. the mind was believed to mind (or soul or spirit) are fundament- inﬂuence the body, rather John Locke (1632–1704), whose Essay on Human Understanding ally different in nature than the other way around. (1690) marked the formal beginning of British empiricism, Descartes developed what rejected the notion of innate ideas, arguing that a new-born child has no knowledge whatsoever. He admitted that some ideas became known as cartesian cartesian dualism a framework offered dualism, which asserts a rela- might appear to be innate (such as the idea of God) but argued by Descartes, which asserts a relation- tionship of mutual interac- that this was only because they are so constantly taught that tion. Also, by limiting the no student could remember a time when he or she was not ship of mutual interaction (seedualism) aware of it. Instead, Locke mind to one function – thought – Descartes ascribed argued, each infant is born to the body attributes that had previously been associated with with a mind like a blank slate, tabula rasathe empiricist Locke argued the mind (e.g. reproduction). He was the ﬁrst to offer a strictly a tabula rasa, upon which ex- perience is written. For Locke, that each infant is born with a mind like physical–psychological dualism. The way was paved for a change all knowledge is empirically a blank slate, a tabula rasa, upon which from metaphysical analysis of the soul to observation of the mind experience is written and its operations. derived, with complex ideas As it became increasingly clear that sensations travel to the consisting of numerous inter- linked simple ideas. brain and that bodily movements originate in the brain, Descartes Scottish philosopher David Hume (1711–76) developed this looked for a point of interaction between mind and body in the brain. He settled on the pineal gland, or conarium, at the top of notion of the association of ideas, and made it more explicit. He the brain stem and described the interaction in mechanical terms. outlined three laws of association, which he saw as the mental counterpart of the laws governing the physical universe: For example, the mind makes an impression on the conarium (in a manner never speciﬁed), which, by tilting in the right direction, causes animal spirits to ﬂow to the appropriate muscles, produc- 1. resemblance or similarity ing movement. Descartes ultimately concluded that the inter- 2. contiguity in time or place action between the physical and non-material worlds (body and 3. causality (linking effects to causes) mind) was miraculous. One of Descartes’ conclusions was that: ‘The existence of God is demonstrated, a posteriori, from this alone, that his idea is in So materialism (the view materialism the view that all things, that all things, including including mental phenomena, can be us’ (1977, p. 234). This points to another important legacy of his mental phenomena, can be philosophy, namely that some ideas (e.g. ideas of God) are innate. described in physical terms), described in physical terms and under- This notion inﬂuenced later psychological theories, especially in stood in terms of matter and energy Gestalt psychology. positivism and especially empiricism were the three philosophical pillars on which modern psychology was built. But psychology has equally The mind as a collection of experiences important roots in physiology. In fact it was four German physio- After Descartes, another logists who were primarily responsible for the emergence of the French philosopher, Auguste new science of psychology. positivism a term coined by Comte Comte, developed a new philosophical idea that had a to describe a way of thinking that profound impact on psychol- P HYSIOLOGICAL INFLUENCES recognizes only positive facts and ogy. Comte coined the term observable phenomena, as practised in the physical sciences positivism to describe a way Physiology shaped the form of early psychology and imbued it of thinking that recognized with the experimental method. PSY_C01.qxd 1/2/05 3:17 pm Page 11 The Beginnings of Modern Psychology 111 Measuring mental processes through the work of physiologists like Helmholtz, Weber and Fechner that this potential was fully realized. Yet, despite their inﬂuence, none of these men has been credited with founding The legacy began with Hermann von Helmholtz (1821–94), who investigated the speed of neural impulses. His work suggests modern psychology. That honour has been bestowed on a fourth that thought and movement do not occur instantaneously as physiologist, Wilhelm Wundt (1832–1920), who published previously believed, but that thought occurs ﬁrst, followed by movement. This paved the way for others to investigate the psychological signiﬁcance of time taken to react to a stimulus Pioneer (reaction time or response latency) – an approach that remains important in modern psychology (see chapter 13). Helmholtz made signiﬁcant contributions to sensory psychology, especially audition and vision (you will still ﬁnd his colour theory of vision in psychology textbooks), but he saw psychology as closely related to metaphysics and never considered himself a psychologist. Unlike Helmholtz, Ernst Weber (1795–1878) saw psychology as akin to a natural science and applied strict experimental methods. Weber found that the smallest difference be- just noticeable difference (JND) the tween two stimuli that could smallest difference between two stimuli that can be discriminated be discriminated (the just noticeable difference, or JND ) depends not on the absolute difference, but on the relative difference between the stimuli. For example, he established that the JND between two weights is a constant fraction of 1/40 (40g is noticeably different from 41g, 80g is noticeably different from 82g etc.) and that the constant varies for different senses. Weber achieved a major breakthrough by showing how to investigate the relation between stimulus (body) and sensation (mind). But like Helmholtz, his concern was with physiological processes, and he failed to appreciate the signiﬁcance of his work for psychology. Gustav Fechner (1801–87) built on and went way beyond Weber’s work in attempting to document exactly ‘the functionally dependent relations . . . of the material and the mental, of the physical and psychological psychophysics the systematic attempt worlds’ (1966, p. 7). Develop- Figure 1.4 ing a programme of research to relate changes in the physical world on what he calledpsychophysics, Wilhelm Wundt is generally considered the founder of to differences in our psychological Fechner devised methods modern psychology. perceptions that, with minor modiﬁca- tions, are still in use today. For example, the idea of average error assumes that we cannot Wilhelm Wundt (1832–1920) was a physiologist and psy- obtain a ‘true’ measure of sensation. So when a person is asked to chophysicist who established the world’s ﬁrst psychology laboratory and wrote the ﬁrst psychology textbook, adjust a variable stimulus (such as light intensity) to match it to a Principles of Physiological Psychology (1874). Wundt (along constant, standard stimulus, average error is the average differ- ence between the variable stimulus and the standard stimulus with Edward Titchener, who helped establish psychology over a number of trials. This technique – useful in measuring in the USA) developed the ﬁrst systematic position, or reaction time – is basic to modern psychology. In fact, Fechner, school of thought, in psychology – structuralism, so called because it focuses on the structure of the mind. Wundt put more than any other single person, prepared the way for the students through an arduous training in the method of research on perception described in chapter 8. introspection (looking inward) to single out those who could describe the elementary sensations of experience – The ﬁrst psychology textbook colours, tones, tastes and so on. But by the early twentieth century, introspection had been labelled ‘superstitious’ by Although philosophy had paved the way for the application of John Watson, the founder of behaviourism. scientiﬁc methods to the study of mental phenomena, it was PSY_C01.qxd 1/2/05 3:17 pm Page 12 12 The Science of Psychology Principles of Physiological Psychology(1874) – widely considered theTable 1.1 Titchener’s (1910) ‘periodic table’ of the mind. ﬁrst psychology textbook. In the preface Wundt wrote, ‘The work I here present to the Elementary sensations Number public is an attempt to mark a new domain of science.’ Unlike his predecessors, Wundt called himself a psychologist and took a Colour About 35,000 number of actions to promote this new domain of science. White to black range 600 to 700 Tones About 11,000 Tastes Just 4 (sweet, sour, bitter, and salty) From the skin Just 4 (pressure, pain, warmth, and cold) PSYCHOLOGY TODAY From the internal organs Just 4 (pressure, pain, warmth, and cold) Smells 9 classes seem likely, but there might be thousands of elements The birth date of psychology is most often given as 1879. It was in this year that Wilhelm Wundt is said to have established the Total elementary 46,708 plus an indeterminate variety ﬁrst formal psychology research laboratory at the University of sensations of smells Leipzeig in Germany, and the ﬁrst psychology journal followed two years later. Together they heralded the beginning of modern psychology. introspection (looking inward) to single out those who could introspection literally, looking inward, this is an observational method used to S TRUCTURALISM : MENTAL CHEMISTRY describe the elements of describe the elements of experience experience – colours, tones, tastes and so on. In our (colours, tones, tastes and so on) Wilhelm Wundt (along with one of his English students, example, a good introspec- Edward Titchener, who helped establish psychology in the tionist would describe only the intensity and clarity of the sensa- USA) developed the ﬁrst sys- tions that occur in viewing the image, such as its blueness. tematic position, or school Like chemistry, psychology consists of analysis – discovering structuralism a theory derived from of thought, in psychology the basic elements of conscious thought– and synthesis– discover- the use of psychophysical methods, so – structuralism . According ing connections between elements and the laws governing these called because it focuses on the struc- to Wundt, psychology is ture of the mind the science of immediate connections. To
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