A recently released special issue of Memory Studies is dedicated to the issue of historical cognition. Guest edited by Peter Hegarty and Olivier Klein the issue explores historical cognition’s dilemmas as well as recent advances in historical cognition. As Hegarty and Klein note in their open access introduction to the special issue “social psychology has always been a somewhat liminal disciplinary endeavor, which might provide a particular vantage point from which to consider the relationship between psychology’s individual subject and historical sense-making.” Their introduction further notes,
This Special Issue presents papers that draw together recent insights about historical cognition from several social psychologists. Early psychologists such as G. Stanley Hall, Wilhelm Wundt, and Sigmund Freud described histories of “civilization” to explain adult human rationality in European and American cultures of their times. Enthusiasm for experimental methods and individual research subjects quickly widened the gap between psychological and historical explanation. Frederick Bartlett’s (1932) investigations of serial memory aimed to understand how collective memories might be sustained in cultures, but they also signaled a parting of the ways between experimental psychology and social anthropology in Britain. Psychology has since often been viewed as wedding historical scholarship—for better or worse—to theories of the individual subject, as when psychologist Lewis Terman (1941) called on historians to look to IQ tests not texts as their raw materials, or when William Langer asked the American Historical Association in 1958 to integrate psychoanalysis into historical scholarship (Runyan, 1988). Fischer (1970) looked to psychologist David McClelland’s understanding of power motives to imagine a historian’s logic without obvious fallacies. The “subjects” that psychology has offered to seduce historians’ engagement illustrate the history of both disciplines, and position our attempt at recent advances in historical cognition here, which was supported by European Cooperation in Science and Technology through COST Action IS 1205: Social psychological dynamics of historical representations in the enlarged European Union.
The full special issue can be found here.
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A new issue of Revista de Historia de la Psychología is now available online. Articles in this issue explore the work of Charles Richet (right), Gustav Ichheiser, José Ingenieros, and Rudolf Allers, as well as the history of pedology in Russia and Bulgaria. Titles, authors, and English-language abstracts follow below.
“El concepto de inteligencia inconsciente en la obra de Charles Richet (1850-1935),” by Manuel Sánchez de Miguel, Carlos Mª Alcover, and Izarne Lizaso. The abstract reads,
The phenomenon known as spiritualism reached its maximum popularity and expansion in the period from the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. The French physician and physiologist Charles Richet, Nobel Prize in physiology (1913) represents the attempt to consolidate a new experimental science known as metaphysics dedicated to the study of unknown phenomena as an alternative to spiritualistic theories. This multifaceted researcher advocates the rigorous study of the strange phenomena based on their knowledge of physiological psychology, a middle course of study located between the spiritualist called scientific medicine and scientific psychology. This paper analyses his biography and his work, the controversies raised by spiritualist current and orthodox medicine on the phenomenon of mediums, linking to the historical study of the genesis and evolution of the concept proposed by Richet, the unconscious intelligence, misunderstood term and relegated to historical oblivion.
“No hay nada malo en ser diferente: notas sobre la psicología crítica de Gustav Ichheiser,” by Eduardo Crespo. The abstract reads, Continue reading New Issue of Revista de Historia de la Psychología
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The February 2014 issue of History of Psychology is now online. Included in this issue are articles on the creation of college counseling centers in postwar America, a comparison of psychology’s vocabulary with that of other disciplines, and the establishment of Italian social psychology. Other historiographical pieces explore archival sources for Wundt scholarship, as well as the state of work on Soviet psychology. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“Great aspirations: The postwar American college counseling center,” by Tom McCarthy. The abstract reads,
In the decade after World War II, psychologists, eager to bring the benefits of counseling to larger numbers, convinced hundreds of American colleges and universities to establish counseling centers. Inspired by the educational-vocational counseling center founded by psychologists at the University of Minnesota in 1932, Carl R. Rogers’s “client-centered” methods of personal adjustment counseling, and the 400-plus college counseling centers created by the Veterans Administration to provide the educational-vocational counseling benefit promised to returning World War II servicemen under the 1944 GI Bill, these counseling psychologists created a new place to practice where important currents in psychology, higher education, and federal policy converged and where they attempted to integrate educational-vocational counseling with personal adjustment counseling based on techniques from psychotherapy. By the mid-1960s, half of America’s colleges and universities had established counseling centers, and more than 90% offered students educational, vocational, and psychological counseling services, a great achievement of the first generation of counseling psychologists.
“Patterns of similarity and difference between the vocabularies of psychology and other subjects,” by John G. Benjafield. The abstract reads, Continue reading New HoP: Italian Social Psych, Postwar College Counselling Centers, & Psych’s Vocabulary
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The March 2013 issue of the History of Psychiatry is now online. Included in this issue are a number of articles ranging from morbidity and mortality caused from melancholia, to a revisiting of the mental hygiene movement, and even to William James’ psychical research. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“The morbidity and mortality linked to melancholia: two cohorts compared, 1875–1924 and 1995–2005,” by Margaret Harris, Fiona Farquhar, David Healy, Joanna C Le Noury, Stefanie C Linden, J Andrew Hughes, and Anthony P Roberts. The abstract reads:
For over a century, melancholia has been linked to increased rates of morbidity and mortality. Data from two epidemiologically complete cohorts of patients presenting to mental health services in North Wales (1874–1924 and 1995–2005) have been used to look at links between diagnoses of melancholia in the first period and severe hospitalized depressive disorders today and other illnesses, and to calculate mortality rates. This is a study of the hospitalized illness rather than the natural illness, and the relationship between illness and hospitalization remains poorly understood. These data confirm that melancholia is associated with a substantial increase in the standardized mortality rate both formerly and today, stemming from a higher rate of deaths from tuberculosis in the historical sample and from suicide in the contemporary sample. The data do not link melancholia to cancer or cardiac disease. The comparison between outcomes for melancholia historically and severe mood disorder today argue favourably for the effectiveness of asylum care.
Continue reading New Issue: History of Psychiatry
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The February 2013 issue of the History of the Human Sciences is now online. Included in this issue are a number of all new articles that address topics that range from Latour, Péguy, and the history of science to the instincts of insects and boundary work in social psychology. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“The materiality of things? Bruno Latour, Charles Péguy and the history of science,” by Henning Schmidgen. The abstract reads,
This article sheds new light on Bruno Latour’s sociology of science and technology by looking at his early study of the French writer, philosopher and editor Charles Péguy (1873–1914). In the early 1970s, Latour engaged in a comparative study of Péguy’s Clio and the four gospels of the New Testament. His 1973 contribution to a Péguy colloquium (published in 1977) offers rich insights into his interest in questions of time, history, tradition and translation. Inspired by Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy of difference, Latour reads Clio as spelling out and illustrating the following argument: ‘Repetition is a machine to produce differences with identity’. However, in contrast to Deleuze’s work (together with Félix Guattari) on the materiality of machines, or assemblages [agencements], Latour emphasizes the semiotic aspects of the repetition/difference process. As in Péguy, the main model for this process is the Roman Catholic tradition of religious events. The article argues that it is this reading of Péguy and Latour’s early interest in biblical exegesis that inspired much of Latour’s later work. In Laboratory Life (Latour and Woolgar, 1979) and The Pasteurization of France (1988) in particular, problems of exegesis and tradition provide important stimuli for the analysis of scientific texts. In this context, Latour gradually transforms the question of tradition into the problem of reference. In a first step, he shifts the event that is transmitted and translated from the temporal dimension (i.e. the past) to the spatial (i.e. from one part of the laboratory to another). It is only in a second step that Latour resituates scientific events in time. As facts they are ‘constructed’ but nevertheless ‘irreducible’. They result, according to Latour, from the tradition of the future. As a consequence, the Latourian approach to science distances itself from the materialism of Deleuze and other innovative theoreticians.
“Oikonomia in the age of empires,” by Dotan Leshem. The abstract reads, Continue reading New Issue: History of the Human Sciences
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This post is written by Cathy Faye, Assistant Director, Archives of the History of Psychology, Center for the History of Psychology and is part of a special series of bibliographies on topics in the history of psychology.
In the following list of resources I have tried to provide literature that discusses social psychology from both a historical and a theoretical standpoint and that reflects both psychological and sociological approaches to the discipline. Nonetheless, my own interests are centred largely on the disciplinary history of twentieth-century American social psychology and the historiography of social psychology. This list reflects that focus. I’ve also focused on sources that take a very broad view of the field, and have therefore omitted reference to specific topics or time periods in the history of social psychology. For those interested in a more topical consideration of social psychology, I highly recommend Roger Smith’s (1997) bibliographic essay on “The individual and the social” (see Smith, The Norton History of the Human Sciences, pp. 993-999). I have provided brief explanatory notes regarding each book-length work in the list below. With a few exceptions, most of these works are standard histories, while the articles provided are mainly critiques of these standard histories or theoretical considerations of the discipline. Read together, they provide a really interesting story not only of what social psychology has been, but also of the changing views regarding what it should be. The list of articles is brief, but the best articles are those in the special issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences that I have cited.
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Collier, G., Minton, H. L., & Reynolds, G. (1991). Currents of thought in American social psychology. New York: Oxford University Press. This book is a good place to start, since it highlights trends in the history of American social psychology. It does not, however, provide much detail or reflection.
Farr, R. M. (1996). The roots of modern social psychology, 1872-1954. Oxford: Blackwell. Farr provides a more reflective and critical history, along with a consideration of historiographical issues in writing the history of social psychology.
Greenwood, J. D. (2004). The disappearance of the social in American social psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Greenwood provides a critical, historical analysis of the individualistic nature of contemporary social psychology. He argues that early twentieth-century social psychologists had a rich conception of the social that has since dissipated. This book is particularly useful because it raises important questions regarding what constitutes a social versus an asocial psychology. Continue reading Bibliography: History of Social Psychology
I’ve just come across an online archive that I thought might be of interest to AHP readers: Hidden Lives Revealed. The site provides a range of archival material relevant to the history of the 22,500 children who were in the care of The Waifs and Strays’ Society throughout England and Wales between 1881 and 1918.
The site includes:
The case files provide a particularly interesting resource. They are searchable by keyword (ex. alcohol abuse, mental health, school, suicide) and include a variety of materials including descriptions of the individual children’s histories, their applications for admission to the Waifs and Strays’ Society, letters from family and community members, reports, discharge letters, etc. The text of the documents is available on the site as well as an image of the original. All files have been edited to protect the identity of the children.
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The long-awaited publication of the replication of Stanley Milgram’s famous obedience experiment, conducted by Santa Clara University (CA) psychologist Jerry Burger, has finally hit the pages of the American Psychological Association’s flagship journal, American Psychologist (unfortunately, only the abstract is freely available on-line).
In the experiment, participants were told they are in a learning experiment in which they will ask questions of another participant (who is really a confederate), and deliver shocks of increasing strength for every incorrect answer received. The shocks were fake and the experiment was really about the willingness of people to obey the orders of an authority figure such as a scientist, even when asked to do what appeared to be extreme harm to another person . Continue reading Milgram Replication in American Psychologist
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A meta-analysis by Dominic J. Packer, recently published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3(4), offers to shed new light on how we interpret the influential series of studies conducted by Stanley Milgram at Yale in July 1961.
A meta-analysis of data from eight of Milgram’s obedience experiments reveals previously undocumented systematicity in the behavior of disobedient participants. In all studies, disobedience was most likely at 150 v, the point at which the shocked “learner” first requested to be released. Further illustrating the importance of the 150-v point, obedience rates across studies covaried with rates of disobedience at 150 v, but not at any other point; as obedience decreased, disobedience at 150 v increased. In contrast, disobedience was not associated with the learner’s escalating expressions of pain. This analysis identifies a critical decision point in the obedience paradigm and suggests that disobedient participants perceived the learner’s right to terminate the experiment as overriding the experimenter’s orders, a finding with potential implications for the treatment of prisoners.
Yet this analysis does more than offer a new interpretation of a famous data set. It also highlights one of the many benefits, for contemporary researchers, of studying history: finding results that are both significant and meaningful, both statistically and from the perspective of the discipline as a whole. Continue reading Systematic Disobedience in Milgram’s Studies
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Robert Zajonc’s was probably best known for his work finding situations in which emotion, rather than cognition, seems to lead behavior. Sometimes the effect was entirely unknown to the person engaged in the behavior. For instance, there was the “mere exposure effect,” in which people prefer objects they have previously seen, often so fleetingly that they cannot consciously recall having seen them. He also demonstrated a small relationship between birth order and IQ; and he found that experts are facilitated by the presence of onlookers, but novices are hindered by them; and he controversially theorized that emotional facial expressions actually control the flow of blood to regions of the brain responsible for emotional feeling. Continue reading Social Psychologist Robert Zajonc Dies
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