Tag Archives: Edward Tolman

New Book: Purpose and Cognition: Edward Tolman and the Transformation of American Psychology

Soon-to-come from Cambridge University Press is a new volume on psychologist Edward Tolman and his influence on American Psychology. Purpose and Cognition: Edward Tolman and the Transformation of American Psychology, is written by psychologist David W. Carroll of the University of Wisconsin, Superior. The book is described on the publisher’s website, as discussing

the development of Edward Tolman’s purposive behaviourism from the 1920s to the 1950s, highlighting the tension between his references to cognitive processes and the dominant behaviourist trends. It shows how Tolman incorporated concepts from European scholars, including Egon Brunswik and the Gestalt psychologists, to justify a more purposive form of behaviourism and how the theory evolved in response to the criticisms of his contemporaries. The manuscript also discusses Tolman’s political activities, culminating in his role in the California loyalty oath controversy in the 1950s. Tolman was involved in a number of progressive causes during his lifetime, activities that drew the attention of both state legislators in California and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It treats Tolman’s theoretical and political activities as emanating from the same source, a desire to understand the learning process in a scientific manner and to apply these concepts to improve the human condition.


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Summer Issue of JHBS is Now Out

The Summer 2012 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online (cover featured at left). Included in this issue are articles on psychologist Edward Tolman’s refusal to sign a loyalty oath in the 1950s, the aesthetics of musical research in Berlin and Vienna in the late-nineteenth century, and the use of hormonal treatments at Maudsley Hospital during the interwar years. Also in this issue is an article – by yours truly – on early questionnaire research in the United States. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below, along with a list of books reviewed in this issue.

“The biologist as psychologist: Henry Fairfield Osborn’s Early Mental Ability Investigations,” by Jacy L. Young. The abstract reads,

In the early 1880s, biologist Henry Fairfield Osborn conducted some of the first questionnaire research in American psychology. This article details how he came to distribute Francis Galton’s questionnaire on mental imagery in the United States, as well as how he altered it to suit his own burgeoning psychological research interests. The development and circulation of questionnaires at the very beginning of American scientific psychology, first by Osborn and later by G. Stanley Hall, is discussed in terms of the new psychology’s often-overlooked methodological plurality. Further, Osborn’s late nineteenth century interest in individual variation and group differences in mental imagery ability are discussed in relation to his pervasive educational and social concerns, as well as his eventual status as a prominent eugenicist in the twentieth century United States. This research into mental imagery ability foreshadows the eugenic-oriented intelligence testing that developed in the early twentieth century.

The regents versus the professors: Edward Tolman’s role in the California Loyalty Oath controversy,” by David W. Carroll. The abstract reads,

In 1950, the University of California Board of Regents approved a policy that all faculty members, as a condition for continued employment, were required to either sign an oath indicating that they were not members of the Communist Party or explain why they would not sign. A group of faculty members, led by psychologist Edward Tolman, refused to sign the oath and were fired. This article discusses how Tolman emerged as the leader of the faculty nonsigners and how his stature within psychology enabled him to recruit assistance from the American Psychological Association and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.

“The bias of ‘music-infected consciousness’: The aesthetics of listening in the laboratory and on the city streets of fin-de-siecle Berlin and Vienna,” by Alexandra E. Hui. The abstract reads, Continue reading Summer Issue of JHBS is Now Out

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