Forthcoming in the European Journal of Developmental Psychology is an article by AHP’s Christopher Green exploring the relationship between American psychologist G. Stanley Hall’s developmental theory and the work of Ernst Haeckel (right) on recapitualtionism. Full details follow below.
“Hall’s developmental theory and Haeckel’s recapitulationism,” by Christopher D. Green. The abstract reads,
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G. Stanley Hall was one of the leading American psychologists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. He is best known today for his administrative accomplishments—founding the first psychology research laboratory in the US, launching the American Journal of Psychology and other journals, presiding over Clark University, and assembling the American Psychological Association, among other things. In his time, though, he was also well known for his pioneering work in what came to be called developmental psychology. The theoretical foundation of this research was the recapitulationist evolutionary theory of his contemporary, Ernst Haeckel. Whereas Haeckel proposed that the embryonic development of each organism follows the evolutionary history of its species, Hall argued that the postnatal developmental path of the child’s mind and behaviour follows the evolutionary path of the human species as a whole. Thus, according to Hall, children are psychologically similar to “primitive” humans, and “primitive” humans are psychologically akin to our children of today. This article explores the relationship between Hall’s work and Haeckel’s.
The lead article in the September issue of the Review of General Psychology is a piece by AHP’s Christopher Green (right) on the persistent issue of unification in psychology. In “Why psychology isn’t unified, and probably never will be” Green argues that unification is unlikely to ever occur within the discipline. The abstract reads,
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Over the past few decades, a large literature has emerged on the question of how one might unify all or most of psychology under a single, coherent, rigorous framework, in a manner similar to that which unified physics under Newton’s Laws, or biology under Darwin’s theory of natural selection. It is argued here that this is a highly unlikely scenario in psychology given the contingent and opportunistic character of the processes that brought its original topics together into a new discipline, and the nearly continuous institutional, social, and even political negotiating and horse-trading that has determined psychology’s “boundaries” in the 14 decades since. Psychology, as the field currently stands, does not have the intellectual coherence to be brought together by any set of principles that would enable its phenomena to be captured and explained as rigorous products of those principles. If there is a kind of unification in psychology’s future, it is more likely to be one that, paradoxically, sees it broken up into a number of large “super subdisciplines,” each of which exhibits more internal coherence than does the current sprawling and heterogeneous whole.
The most recent issue of the American Journal of Psychology includes an article exploring the journal’s earliest years of publication. In “The Evolution of The American Journal of Psychology 1, 1887– 1903: A Network Investigation” Christopher Green and Ingo Feinerer use the methods of the digital humanities to network the journal’s content. The abstract reads,
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The American Journal of Psychology (AJP) was the first academic journal in the united states dedicated to the “new” scientific form of the discipline. But where did the journal’s founding owner/editor, G. Stanley Hall, find the “psychologists” he needed to fill the pages of such a venture 1887, when he was still virtually the only professor of psychology in the country? To investigate this question we used the substantive vocabularies of every full article published in AJP’s first 14 volumes to generate networks of verbally similar articles. These networks reveal the variety of research communities that hall drew on to launch and support the journal. three separate networks, corresponding to 3 successive time blocks, show how hall’s constellation of participating research communities changed over AJP’s first 17 years. Many of these communities started with rather nebulous boundaries but soon began to differentiate into groups of more distinct specialties. some topics declined over time, but new ones regularly appeared to replace them. We sketch a quasievolutionary model to describe the intellectual ecology of AJP’s early years.
The April 2012 issue of the American Psychological Association‘s Monitor on Psychology is now online. This month’s Time Capsule section includes a piece from AHP‘s own Christopher Green who recounts the story of psychologist Coleman Griffith’s early work with the Chicago Cubs. In America’s First Sport Psychologist, Green writes
Griffith opened America’s first athletics research laboratory at the University of Illinois in 1925. Although the lab attracted some attention at the time, university trustees shut it down after only six years. Official accounts blamed cutbacks on the Depression, but rumors circulated that Illinois football coach Robert Zupke had recommended its closure. Griffith was shifted into a middling administrative role, and it looked like his sport research days were over. But then Wrigley came calling late in 1937 not only with a job, but also with an equipment budget, a laboratory in Chicago and an invitation to join the Cubs for spring training on Santa Catalina Island off the southern California coast. Griffith bought his lab gear — including high-speed movie cameras and chronoscopes — and headed west.
Whatever benefits Wrigley and Griffith thought a psychologist might bring to a professional sports team, the Cubs coaching staff had other ideas. Manager Charlie Grimm had apparently slid into a depression so severe toward the end of the previous season that he had been temporarily replaced by one of the players, catcher and future Hall-of- Famer Gabby Hartnett. The team led the National League into late August of 1937, but slipped into second in the first week of September and finished there. Grimm returned for the 1938 season, but most of the players did not think he would last. Apparently, Grimm felt the pressure. He mocked the “headshrinkers,” as he called them, and ordered his players not to cooperate.
Read the entire piece online here.
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Christopher Green (left), producer of the podcast series This Week in the History of Psychology (or TWITHOP) and AHP faculty consultant, is back at work producing podcasts on the history of psychology.
Green has just released an episode of what is to be an occasional series, Discussions in the History of Psychology (or DitHoP). In this inaugural episode Vincent (Vinny) Hevern (centre), Henderikus (Hank) Stam (right), and Robert (Bob) Kugelman (not pictured) sat down with Green to discuss the history psychology’s “Third Force,” Humanistic psychology. You can find that episode here.
A further podcast series, History of Psychology Laboratory (or HooPLa!) is also being produced. The first episode of this series tackles the history of the nineteenth century lunatic asylum, and features interviews with noted historians Andrew Scull, David Wright, Elizabeth Lunbeck, and Gerald Grob. The discussion in this episode is led by Jennifer Bazar, and features Jeremy Burman and Jacy Young (all of whom are Green’s graduate students and AHP bloggers). A second episode on the history of mental testing is in the works and a third episode on the history of comparative psychology is in the planning stages.
Finally, Green et al. are at work on a new series, TWITHOP: Shorts. This podcast series will consist of brief (approximately 5 minute) reviews of significant new journal articles about the history of psychology. The first episode of this series is on Fridlund, Beck, Goldie, & Irons’ article “Little Albert: A Neurologically Impaired Child,” forthcoming from the journal History of Psychology (and currently available through APA’s PsycArticles on-line first initiative), with further episodes to come.
You can find these podcasts, as well as Green’s original series TWITHOP, here. Subscribe through iTunes here.
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Fans of the This Week in the History of Psychology (TWITHOP) podcast series will be pleased to learn that another podcast in this vein has been made available online. Discussions on the History of Psychology is a new venture by TWITHOP producer Christopher Green. In the inaugural episode, recorded during last year’s Cheiron conference in Syracuse, Vincent (Vinny) Hevern of Le Moyne College, Robert (Bob) Kugelmann of the University of Dallas, and Henderikus (Hank) Stam of the University of Calgary sat down with with Chris Green to discuss the history of humanistic psychology.
The podcast discussion runs about 45 minutes in length and addresses the contributions of such seminal figures within humanistic psychology as Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers. This discussion of humanistic psychology may be of interest not only to historians of psychology, but also those who teach on the topic and their students. The full podcast can be heard online here.
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The latest issue of Isis, the official journal of the History of Science Society, features an article on the importance of scientific objectivity in Edward Bradford Titchener’s experimental psychology. The piece, authored by Christopher Green, extends the analysis of scientific objectivity made by Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison in their recent book on the subject.
“Scientific Objectivity and E. B. Titchener’s Experimental Psychology,” by Christopher D. Green. The abstract reads,
Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison’s recent book on the history of scientific objectivity showed that, over the course of the nineteenth century, natural scientists of many stripes became intensely concerned with the issue of the distorting influence that their own subjectivities might be having on their observations and representations of nature. At very nearly the same time, experimental psychology arose specifically to investigate scientifically the nature and structure of subjective consciousness. Although Daston and Galison briefly discussed some basic psychological issues—especially the discovery of differences in human color perception—they did not strongly connect the widespread European concern with scientific objectivity to the rise of experimental psychology. This essay critically examines the theoretical and empirical activities of the experimental psychologist who most energetically strove to discover the structure of subjective conscious experience, Edward Bradford Titchener. Titchener’s efforts to produce an objective study of subjectivity reveal important tensions in early experimental psychology and also serve to situate experimental psychology at the center of an important intellectual struggle that was being waged across the natural sciences in the decades surrounding the turn of the twentieth century.
Pictured at the right is Titchener’s plan for his psychology laboratory at Cornell University (click to enlarge).
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The just released December 2010 special issue of the British Psychological Society‘s general interest publication, The Psychologist, is dedicated to 150 years of experimental psychology, as this year marks the 150th anniversary of Gustav Fechner’s Psychophysics (see AHP‘s previous post on this anniversary here). Included in this issue are a number of short pieces by prominent scholars in the history of psychology, as well an interview with AHP‘s own Christopher Green. Authors, titles, and abstracts follow below.
“The experimental psychologist’s fallacy.” Geoff Bunn introduces a special issue marking the 150th Anniversary of Gustav Fechner’s Elements of Psychophysics. The abstract reads:
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Considered by some psychologists to be the ‘founding father’ of experimental psychology, Gustav Fechner (1801–1887) was, to some extent, an uncompromisingly hardnosed materialist. Yet there was also a more conciliatory and spiritual side to his thinking. In 1835, for example, in his Little Book on Life After Death, Fechner argued that consciousness can be sustained by different ontological systems. The work of many of the great psychologists has subsequently incorporated similarly antagonistic dualisms. But these ineradicable tensions are ultimately a function not of the idiosyncrasies of individual biography but of the highly ambiguous nature of psychological knowledge itself. Continue reading History of Psychology in The Psychologist