Tag Archives: PsyBorgs

New HoP: The Future of the History of Psychology Revisited

Kurt Danziger

The August 2016 issue of History of Psychology is now available. Articles in this special issue, guest edited by Adrian Brock, revisit the issues raised by Kurt Danziger in his 1994 article “Does the History of Psychology Have a Future?” Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“The future of the history of psychology revisited,” by Adrian C. Brock. The abstract reads,

In 1994, Kurt Danziger published an article in Theory & Psychology with the title, “Does the history of psychology have a future?” The article attracted a great deal of controversy and is now listed on the journal’s website as one of the most cited articles in its history. After providing a synopsis of Danziger’s article, I discuss some of the issues that emerged from the controversy that followed its publication. I also ask whether the position of the history of psychology has changed in the intervening years. We are already in the future that Danziger discussed, even if it is only the near future, and the situation may look different from here. After pointing out that Danziger himself has changed his views on this subject, I suggest that it does look different. The editorial ends with an introduction to the articles in the special issue and some reflections on the importance of understanding the context in which historians of psychology work.

“The history specialist in psychology: From avocation to professionalization,” by Marissa E. Barnes and Scott Greer. The abstract reads, Continue reading New HoP: The Future of the History of Psychology Revisited

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Interactive Timeline: “Replication in Psychology: A History Perspective”

Those who’ve been following the most recent controversy over the replicability of psychological findings (see here, here, here, here, and here for a primer), may be interested in the latest output from the PsyBorgs Digital History of Psychology Laboratory. Michael Pettit (left) has created an interactive timeline of replication controversies over psychology’s history:

This interactive timeline offers the reader a brief guide to this longer history. I define replication fairly broadly, but attempt to not simply offer a history of psychology in its entirety. Instead, I have focused on famous replication controversies from the past alongside the development of psychology’s favored research methods.

I am personally quite agnostic as to the value of the current interest in direct replication. My worry is that it distracts (as is often the case in psychology) from questions of external validity. My goal is to provide a richer context for contemporary controversies animating psychology.

I welcome corrections, updates, and suggestions of relevant topics. Please contact me at mpettit at yorku.ca

The timeline can be explored in full here.

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New HoP: Evil, Attachment, and Trends in Psychiatry

The February 2016 issue of History of Psychology is now online. The issue includes an opening editorial note from incoming editor Nadine Weidman on her plans for the journal. Articles in the issue explore studies of evil by Ernest Becker and Stanley Milgram, the influence of William Blatz on Mary Ainsworth’s attachment theory, and Foucault’s work on mental illness. The issue also includes an article on cyclical trends in the history of psychiatry by Hannah Decker, along with commentary from Allen Frances and Ronald Pies and a response from the author. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“History of Psychology,” by Nadine Weidman. The abstract reads,

The editor of History of Psychology discusses her plan to vary the journal’s content and expand its scope in specific ways. The first is to introduce a “Spotlight” feature, a relatively brief, provocative thought piece that might take one of several forms. Along with this new feature, she hopes further to broaden the journal’s coverage and its range of contributors. She encourages submissions on the history of the psy-sciences off the beaten path. Finally, she plans to continue the journal’s tradition of special issues, special sections, and essay reviews of two or more important recently published books in the field.

“Ernest Becker and Stanley Milgram: Twentieth-century students of evil,” by Jack Martin.

Both Stanley Milgram and Ernest Becker studied and theorized human evil and offered explanations for evil acts, such as those constituting the Holocaust. Yet the explanations offered by Becker and Milgram are strikingly different. In this essay, brief biographical records of their lives are provided. Differences in their research methods and theories are then examined and traced to relevant differences in their lives, education, and careers. Especially important in this regard were their personal experiences of evil and the scholarly practices and traditions of social scientific and humanities scholarship that characterized their graduate education and scholarly work. The final parts of the essay are devoted to a comparative and integrative analysis of their respective approaches to the question of evil, especially as manifest during the Holocaust, and a brief exegesis of their disciplinary commitments.

“From secure dependency to attachment: Mary Ainsworth’s integration of Blatz’s security theory into Bowlby’s attachment theory,” by Lenny van Rosmalen, Frank C. P. van der Horst, and René van der Veer. Continue reading New HoP: Evil, Attachment, and Trends in Psychiatry

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Mapping Science & Reform: The First Generation of Chicago-Trained Female Social Scientists, Part III

This is part of a special series of posts on the digital history of psychology from members of the PsyBorgs Lab at York University, in Toronto, Canada. The full series of posts can be found here.

Read Mapping Science & Reform: The First Generation of Chicago-Trained Female Social Scientists: Part I, here & Part II, here.

Conclusion: reform movement & research discussion

Sophonisba Preston Breckinridge, eminent social sciences educator in Chicago
Sophonisba Preston Breckinridge, PhD 1901

Along with those in the social services, much of the work done by individuals identified in the previous post as employed in academia can also be classified as fitting within the reform movement: Matilde Castro was director of the Phebe Anna Thorne Open-Air Model preparatory school at Bryn Mawr; in Chicago, Sophonisba Preston Breckenridge, with her 1913 entry reporting the official position “Assistant Dean of Women,” at the University, was also heading research for the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy; Edith Abbott is listed in this year as its Associate Director.

Here again we confront the fact that there are significant limitations to, as well as advantages of, sticking exclusively to the alumni directories in our analyses.    A priority for this project was to explore the possibilities and test the viability of employing primary sources like the directories in collective biography—and while they allowed for a level of precision, they also left our analysis vulnerable to the vagaries of those editors who originally organized the information. The organizational changes made in the 1919 directory render it a considerably less ‘rich’ source than the previous two. Unlike them, it did not organize alumni by their disciplines, or even include the students’ departments in their listings, but instead simply arranged the entire school alphabetically. This factor prevented us from being able to include a third, post-1913 generation in our prosopographical analysis as we could not ascertain from the directory alone who was a social scientist. It also confounded implicit expectations that the information provided would get better over time as the school became better established.

But even taken together as a set, the arbitrariness of the selected years and content can potentially create a historical picture that is inaccurate or misleading, and the integration of information from other sources is necessary for prosopographical purposes. To illustrate, we know from external sources that Breckinridge and Abbott would go on to spearhead the merger of the School of Civics and Philanthropy with the University to become its School of Social Service Administration (Davis, 1984; Muncy, 1991). While the directories can provide an unparalleled opportunity to track the early careers of this cohort, they function best in conjunction with biographical sources to more thoroughly map out the professional trajectories as they developed over a longer period of time. The Breckinridge-Abbott partnership would become highly influential; it can be fairly stated that the many collaborative endeavours over their extensive careers helped lay the theoretical and methodological foundations for the social work industry as it would come to be practiced (Muncy, 1991). Another, lesser known example of a reform oriented career that develops after our alumni directory timeline is that of Elizabeth Laetitia Moon Conard, who after instructing at Grinnell College at the time of the directories, was proactive in Iowa, forming a women’s voting league, advocating for children in poverty, promoting the progressivist party and eventually running for governor on the socialist ticket (Hyman Alonso, 1997).

Continue reading Mapping Science & Reform: The First Generation of Chicago-Trained Female Social Scientists, Part III

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Mapping Science & Reform: The First Generation of Chicago-Trained Female Social Scientists, Part II

This is part of a special series of posts on the digital history of psychology from members of the PsyBorgs Lab at York University, in Toronto, Canada. The full series of posts can be found here.

Read Mapping Science & Reform: The First Generation of Chicago-Trained Female Social Scientists, Part I, here.

Employment: Academic & Social Services

The self-identified locations of the first cohort of Chicago-trained female social scientists during the years of the alumni directories show that whether or not it was their place of origin, the East Coast was, not surprisingly, where the majority would end up working. This was particularly the case for the early generation in the cohort (pre-1906).

The following three maps illustrate the locations for the pre-1906 generation as identified in the three directories (1906, 1913, 1919):

Employment for pre-1906 group in 1906
Employment locations of pre-1906 gen from the 1906 alumni directory. Click to enlarge.
Employment of pre-1906 group from 1913 alumni directory
Employment of pre-1906 gen from the 1913 alumni directory. Click to enlarge.
Employment of the pre-1906 group from the 1919 alumni directory. Click image to enlarge.
Employment of the pre-1906 gen from the 1919 alumni directory. Click to enlarge.

The pre-1906 individuals move around quite a bit, but as can be seen, the general layout is strikingly similar, with the majority clustered in the North and Mid- East Coast, a contingent in Chicago, and a few scattered in Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and California.

Compare that consistency with these following two maps for the post-1906 generation: Continue reading Mapping Science & Reform: The First Generation of Chicago-Trained Female Social Scientists, Part II

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Mapping Science & Reform: The First Generation of Chicago-Trained Female Social Scientists, Part I

This is part of a special series of posts on the digital history of psychology from members of the PsyBorgs Lab at York University, in Toronto, Canada. The full series of posts can be found here.

Chicago Philosophy Club, 1896
Amy Eliza Tanner in white blouse and tie, in between rows

There now exists a large and robust historiography on women and American science before 1970 (Rossiter, 1982; Scarborough & Furomoto, 1987). These works focus on the severe constraints faced by women due to sexist social norms, the tension between pure versus applied work, and the question of whether women scientists generated a specifically feminist-conscious science. With important exceptions (e.g. Rosenberg, 1982; Rossiter, 1982), much of this historiography focuses on a single discipline and often one or two notable (and particularly successful) women. For this project, presented at the 2013 conference of Cheiron: The International Society for the History of Behavioral & Social Sciences, we were interested in comparing the careers of female social scientists within and across disciplines. By relying on prosopography rather than biography, we could compare the career patterns of the better known women to their lesser-known peers (Scarborough, 2005; Pettit, 2008).

With these interests in mind, a focus on the University of Chicago made a lot of sense. Founded in 1893, the University of Chicago accepted women as doctoral candidates at a time when such opportunities were not available at elite east coast institutions (e.g., Harvard). Moreover, the city of Chicago was the site of Hull House, the country’s most famous female-centered social reform network (Sklar, 1985; Muncy, 1991) whose members had a complicated relationship with the male social scientists at the University, as Mary Jo Deegan has shown (Deegan, 1988). By looking at the doctorates granted to women in the social sciences, we were interested in exploring whether further connections to this world of reform could be found. Finally, Chicago made sense for pragmatic reasons. Three early editions of The Alumni Directory of the University of Chicago, published in 1906, 1913, and 1919 are available online. These volumes include systematically organized and fairly complete information about undergraduate institution and subsequent employment of all graduates. This kind of source is invaluable for collective biography. One of our goals was to test the possibilities and limitations of relying on this kind of source, so individuals who did not provide either a personal or professional address for any given directory have been left out of its respective maps.

Our questions are fairly simple: where did these women come from prior to entering Chicago and where did they go upon graduation? Did they all receive their undergraduate education at one of the Seven Sisters schools? Did they ultimately teach at the same kinds of women’s colleges, join reform projects (in Chicago or elsewhere), work in other applied settings, or leave professional life?

Pre 1906 female graduate social sciences at U of Chicago
Post 1906 female graduate social sciences cohort from U of Chi
Post 1906 female graduate social sciences at U of Chicago

The first directory published for the school covers the years up to 1906, with the first female doctor of a social science, Hannah Belle Clark, graduating in 1897. Our cohort, comprised of 38 women over 16 years through 1913, graduated with PhDs from a variety of social science and humanities disciplines including psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science, political economy, philosophy, history, education, neurology, sanitary science, and comparative religion. In this first directory, all but one are listed with a combination of two or three disciplinary titles, such as ‘sociology and political economy.’ In the second directory, the majority of listings identify only one department, and after 1910 five out of eight are in psychology. F

or interpretive clarity, the cohort is split into two generational groups: one for the generation who graduated before the first directory was published (we’ll call them pre-1906) and those who graduated between 1906 and 1913 (we’ll call them post-1906). This division functions rather well for a couple of reasons beyond making the maps easier to read: it splits the total directly in half with 19 graduates in each group, and there do seem to be some differences in career trajectories between them, which will be discussed in the following posts, parts II and III.

Undergraduate Education

Map #1 for blog
Undergraduate Institutions. Click to enlarge.

Continue reading Mapping Science & Reform: The First Generation of Chicago-Trained Female Social Scientists, Part I

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Taking this Show on the Road: PsyBorgs at EPA, Mar. 13-16, Boston

This is part of a special series of posts on the digital history of psychology from members of the PsyBorgs Lab at York University, in Toronto, Canada. The full series of posts can be found here.

The PsyBorgs, or at least a subset of us, are taking our digital history of psychology show on the road next month. We’ll – Christopher Green, Jeremy Burman, Daniel Lahham, and I – be travelling to Boston for the Eastern Psychological Association‘s Annual meeting, March 13-16th. If you’re planning to attend the conference, or happen to be in the Boston area, stop by and see us at our Digital History symposium, Saturday March 15th from 3-4:20pm in Winthrop. We’ll be discussing the results of work with a veritable smorgasbord of digital methods: geomapping, networking, and data mining PsycInfo. More details follow below.

Symposium Title: Digital History: Stanley Hall’s Travels, Intellectual Networks, Ethology/Comparative, Trends with PsycINFO

Digital History, in part, is the effort to analyze large electronic databases of historical data by using graphical statistical displays. At York University we have assembled a Digital History of Psychology Laboratory in which faculty and students collaborate on projects to uncover novel aspects of the discipline’s past with these methods. This symposium presents four of those projects. (1) Jacy L. Young presents maps of the many lecture tours made by G. Stanley Hall as he publicized his “Child Study” movement. (2) Christopher D. Green shows how the intellectual structure of early American psychology is revealed by networks of journal articles published during the 1880s­1920s. (3) Daniel E. Lahham uses networks to reveal the impact of European ethology on American comparative psychology in the 1950s. (4) Jeremy T. Burman discusses how to employ APA’s PsycINFO database to investigate intellectual trends in psychology since 1967.

“Mapping the Psychologist as Public Scientist: G. Stanley Hall’s Late-­Nineteenth Century North American Travels,” by Jacy L. Young (York University): Continue reading Taking this Show on the Road: PsyBorgs at EPA, Mar. 13-16, Boston

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A Digital History Analysis on the Effect of Early “Sports Psychology” on Baseball Statistics

This is part of a special series of posts on the digital history of psychology from members of the PsyBorgs Lab at York University, in Toronto, Canada. The full series of posts can be found here.

A couple years ago it came to my attention just how many historians of psychology were interested in baseball. It occurred to me that, given my interest in Frank and Lillian Gilbreth (who performed a micromotion analysis of the New York Giants baseball team in 1913), I might dabble in the analysis of baseball statistics myself.

Below is a video of a digital history project from my 2012 Multivariate Psychology graduate course. I performed statistical and digital history analyses to visualize batter and pitcher statistics for two baseball teams who experienced very early analysis by psychologists: The New York Giants by Frank and Lillian Gilbreth in 1913, and the Chicago Cubs with Coleman Griffith in 1938. I also included a control team, the Boston Red Sox. Here is a link to the original paper: Belliveau Baseball Digital History Paper.

To briefly summarize the analysis: First, I performed repeated measures and mixed models multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) to discover if player statistics improved after the psychological interventions. I also created 2D and 3D HE plots and spaghetti plots to visualize this data.

Next, and this is the part that will be of interest to aspiring digital historians, I generated a dynamic bubble chart to visualize trends in player statistics over time. That part of the analysis begins at the 6:11 mark.

To make a long story short, the complete lack of any significant effect on pitching and batting statistics for the intervention teams convinced me not to pursue this line of research. It is, however, an interesting piece of digital history and points to some neat things that we can do to visualize psychological data using the programming language R.

Film and music materials for this project were obtained from the Critical Past and Archive.org websites. The project is narrated by Arlie Belliveau. The accompanying paper is available here: Belliveau Baseball Digital History Paper.

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Psychology is… A Google Autocomplete Adventure

This is part of a special series of posts on the digital history of psychology from members of the PsyBorgs Lab at York University, in Toronto, Canada. The full series of posts can be found here.

A few weeks ago, I saw in an article on The Guardian website that the organization UN Women was running an ad campaign aimed a demonstrating how badly women are regarded around the world. The campaign centered on entering phrases like “women should” into a Google search box and seeing what suggestions Google made to “autocomplete” the search string. The idea was that, because Google has a massive database of the ways in which people generally finish search strings, the Google suggestions would reflect the most popular completions. Google’s suggestions were not terribly complimentary toward women. “Women should” was autocompleted with phrases like, “stay at home,” “be slaves,” “be in the kitchen,” and “not speak in church.”

 After recovering from my initial horror, I thought that this might be an interesting approach to finding out about trends in popular belief more generally, so I decided to try it out the phrase, “psychology is.” The suggestions I got were: “not a science,” “bullshit,” “the study of,” “empirical,” and “useless.” These completions were not exactly shocking to me, but they are rather disheartening if you think (as many psychologists do) that the discipline has, over the last century-and-a-third, achieved a relatively secure status among the sciences.

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 1.55.20 PM

I sent  off to three psychology e-mail lists to which I subscribe the suggestion that other people might try this out. I did not relay my exact results, but I did indicate that the outcomes would be less happy than they might expect. Soon afterwards, one person wrote back saying that they didn’t understand what I was on about. The autocompletes they had gotten to “psychology is” were “defined as,” “the study of,” “best defined as,” “not a science.” Not exactly favorable – three of the four are incomplete sentences – but not nearly as negative as I had gotten: no “bullshit,” no “useless.”

Only then  did I remember that the Google search engine does not give the same results for everyone. It customizes its responses based on the search history of the person doing the search. So, my question immediately became, how much variability is there between people in this kind of search? Had this one other person and I covered pretty much the entire range, just by coincidence? Or, was everyone going to be wildly different from each other? I decided to ask a number of people to try it out to see what would happen.

I am not one of these people with hundreds or even thousands of Facebook “friends.” I have “only” 104. Many of these people are other historians of psychology, several from my own school. Quite a few are historians of science, psychologists, and baseball researchers, along with a number of old friends who toil in a random assortment of professions. Not exactly a random sample. Nevertheless… Continue reading Psychology is… A Google Autocomplete Adventure

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The History of Psychology as Multispecies Network, Part 2

This is part of a special series of posts on the digital history of psychology from members of the PsyBorgs Lab at York University, in Toronto, Canada. The full series of posts can be found here.

Read The History of Psychology as Multispecies Network, Part 1 here.

Pettit post 1a
Click to enlarge

I found this visualization unsatisfying for a number of reasons. The way I originally entered the data gave no weight to the relations. Each connection (or edge) had a value of one, whether the scientist published dozens of studies or a single one. Defining what counts as sexual behaviour proved tricky. In the history of psychology, it has at times referred to everything that was not (maze) learning from nest-building to maternal care to social organization. Looking for a way to standardize and stay true to the categories of the historical actors, I (along with Darya Serykh and Chris Green) turned to the bibliography produced by the Committee for Research in Problems of Sex in a 1953 volume to celebrate its 25th anniversary. The bibliography covered research published from the 1920s to the 1940s. We focused on the Committee’s psychological research excluding work on the physiology and endocrinology that initially dominated the agenda. If a laboratory or research team received money from the Committee to investigate sexual behavior or sexed personality traits, they counted. Relying on the bibliography uncovered individuals missed in my initial analysis while excluding those who did not receive CRPS funds.

Pettit post 2a
Click to enlarge

Continue reading The History of Psychology as Multispecies Network, Part 2

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