New HoP: Special Section on the History of Emotions, Relational Mind, Little Albert

The May 2021 issue of History of Psychology is now available. The issue includes a special section on the history of emotions, as well as two regular articles on the relational mind and Little Albert, a commentary on early uses of the term ‘psychology’, and a book review. Full details below.

Special Section: The History of Emotions
Susan Lanzoni: Editor

“Introduction to the special section on the history of emotions.” Lanzoni, Susan. Abstract:

In this series of stimulating reflective essays, prominent scholars of emotion and its history address the challenges and rewards of interdisciplinarity, recent work in the field, and the many conceptions of “emotion”—a polyvocality that presents limitations as well as opportunities.

“Emotions: Some historical observations.” Rosenwein, Barbara H. Abstract:

Historical studies of emotions have much to add to the lively interest in emotions today. This article problematizes the currently popular notion of “basic emotions,” shows how the history of past theories offers new ways to think about the category “emotions” and the items that populate it, and offers a methodology for approaching the emotions through the lens of “emotional communities” (the groups in which people live and feel). It concludes by suggesting how historians and scientists may work together to further our understanding of emotions.

“Emotions in the history of emotions.” Barclay, Katie. Abstract:

This brief note explores how emotions have been conceptualized by scholars in the “history of emotions,” particularly attending to approaches that explore emotion as a network of relations between bodies, material culture, ideas, language and environment. Here, practice-based, performance-based, new materialist, and posthumanist ideas offer an opportunity to refigure what we consider important to the production of emotion.

“Psychological construction of episodes called emotions.” Russell, James A. Abstract:

People witness or experience episodes they explain as due to an emotion. Like ordinary folk, many academic theorists try to understand these obviously important episodes in the same way using the terms emotion, fear, anger, joy, grief, and so on. Yet, each term refers to a heterogeneous cluster of events with unclear boundaries and no single cause—rather than to a prepackaged pancultural bundle of common components (subjective experience, behavior, expression, thought, physiological change). Psychological construction is an alternative approach that treats the concepts of emotion, fear, and so on as the folk concepts they are. It invites emotion researchers in the sciences and humanities to work together to characterize different folk theories of emotion and their influence, but also, in a separate project, to hone more precise scientific concepts embedded in separate accounts of each component of emotional episodes, cognizant of both human diversity and what humans have in common.

“What the history of emotions can offer to psychologists, economists, and computer scientists (among others).” Matt, Susan J. Abstract:

Historians of the emotions explore how feelings—and the way they are categorized and conceptualized—have changed over time and across culture. This essay examines some key assumptions about emotion as an historical artifact. It also explores the promise of interdisciplinary research on the emotions. Finally, it looks at particular disciplines, including economics, computer science, and some subfields in psychology, which would be enriched by an historical perspective.

“The trouble with affect.” Leys, Ruth. Abstract:

The trouble with affect is the trouble that arises when the emotions are theorized in anti-intentionist terms as discrete, universal affects that depend on evolved “affect programs” in the brain, affect programs that when triggered discharge in an involuntary fashion with characteristic physiological and behavioral manifestations, including especially signature facial expressions. It has been clear for some time that the evidence for this theory is inadequate and that the implications of the position are troubling. The paper briefly explores these issues.

“A change of pace: The history of (emotional) experiences.” Zaragoza Bernal, Juan M. Abstract:

In this article, I present some of the most interesting attempts to go beyond the natural kinds approach to emotions, paying special attention to the work of Fay Bound Alberti and Rob Boddice, both of whom have been influenced by Lisa Feldman Barrett’s theory of constructed emotions. I propose that some of the flaws detected in the history of the emotions by Bound Alberti and Boddice can be solved relying on social psychology, and specifically I propose Larissa Z. Tiedens and Colin W. Leach’s (2004) The Social Life of Emotions as a useful approach. In conjunction with Barrett’s theory, Tiedens and Leach provide a framework in which history of the emotions can harness its full potential, encompassing a more comprehensive approach to emotional experience. I discuss the idea of a new history of emotional experiences and suggest some of its possible features. I make a plea for a collaborative, transdisciplinary approach to the study of the emotions, in which humanities and social sciences play a fundamental role.

“Emotional experiences.” Moscoso, Javier. Abstract:

This article pleads for a history of emotional experiences that allows for the understanding of complex emotional phenomena in the past that are not easily accommodated within the history of emotions framework. Following the avenues opened by the anthropology of experience, the article considers different ways in which the history of emotional experiences should allow transhistorical and cross-cultural comparisons.

Regular Articles

“The relational mind: In between history, psychology and anthropology.” Rotman, Youval. Abstract:

The article examines the new psychological language that developed in late antiquity to formulate a personal relationship with the one God. This language used the Greek term for the soul, the psuch? (Latin anima), and defined it as the relational faculty of the human mind. The perception of the human mind as relational became instrumental to formulate the experience of conversion, that is, a mental and emotional process of self-transformation, psychological in the modern sense of the term. The article analyzes the psychological perspective of the ancient authors who developed the idea of the relational faculty to connect to God by using modern theories that perceive the human mind as relationally configured. In order to analyze ancient and modern writers together, the article develops a new methodological approach to move in between ancient and modern writings without falling into the pit of anachronism. This approach enables the author to define a common theoretical field for historical analysis and psychoanalysis, and to use the historical evidence in order to evaluate and challenge the modern psychoanalytic prism. To bridge between the two disciplines, the present article uses anthropology. Thanks to its psychological aspect, anthropology of religion validates the two-way relationship between history and psychoanalysis. Anthropological field research on the beliefs in tree spirits conducted by the author in an animistic environment has revealed a relational psychological language in the core of the animistic belief, and provides the missing link to connect history and psychoanalysis.

“Did Little Albert actually acquire a conditioned fear of furry animals? What the film evidence tells us.” Powell, Russell A.; Schmaltz, Rodney M. Abstract:

Watson and Rayner’s (1920) attempt to condition a fear of furry animals and objects in an 11-month-old infant is one of the most widely cited studies in psychology. Known as the Little Albert study, it is typically presented as evidence for the role of classical conditioning in fear development. Some critics, however, have noted deficiencies in the study that suggest that little or no fear conditioning actually occurred. These criticisms were primarily based on the published reports of the study. In this article, we present a detailed analysis of Watson’s (1923) film record of the study to determine the extent to which it provides evidence of conditioning. Our findings concur with the view that Watson and Rayner’s conditioning procedure was largely ineffective, and that the relatively weak signs of distress that Albert does display in the film can be readily accounted for by such factors as sensitization and maturational influences. We suggest that the tendency for viewers to perceive the film as a valid demonstration of fear conditioning is likely the result of expectancy effects as well as, in some cases, an ongoing mistrust of behaviorism as dehumanizing and manipulative. Our analysis also revealed certain anomalies in the film which indicate that Watson engaged in some “literary license” when editing it, most likely with a view toward using the film mainly as a promotional device to attract financial support for his research program.


“Psychology: Early print uses of the term by Pier Nicola Castellani (1525) and Gerhard Synellius (1525).” Janssen, Diederik F.; Hubbard, Thomas K. Abstract:

We identify the putatively earliest extant print source of the neoclassical term psychologia, long presumed to have been a 1575 work, as two 1525 works, one by Pier Nicola Castellani and another by Gerhard Synellius. We provide a history of pertinent etymology and introduce the new sources. The full paragraph containing two uses of the term by Castellani is included in translation.

Book Review

“A useful and reliable guide to Wundt’s entire work.” Araujo, Saulo de Freitas. Abstract:

Reviews the book, ‘Wilhelm Wundt (1832–1920): Introduction, Quotations, Reception, Commentaries, Attempts at Reconstruction’ by Jochen Fahrenberg (2020). Dr. Jochen Fahrenberg—Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of Freiburg in Germany—has done great service to Wundt. In his new book, he offers for the first time an overview of Wundt’s entire work, including the three main areas of neurophysiology, psychology, and philosophy. The book is divided in six chapters. The first one displays the author’s objectives and explains his approach to Wundt’s work. In the second, Fahrenberg offers a short but very useful biography, including Wundt’s curriculum vitae, his teaching and research activities, his political and religious attitudes, and a chronological Table with biographical data. The third chapter is the central part of Fahrenberg’s project, comprising about two-thirds of the whole book. The fourth chapter deals with the reception of Wundt’s work, being the most detailed study of its kind so far. In the fifth chapter, instead of presenting Wundt’s ideas in isolation, Fahrenberg tries to reconstruct them in systematic terms, focusing on Wundt’s principles and his theory of apperception. In the few pages of the last chapter, Fahrenberg addresses Wundt’s current relevance. The merits of Fahrenberg’s book are difficult to overlook. It is the first of its kind to be published in English and will certainly help many readers to orient themselves in the thick forest of Wundt’s writings; it is a useful and reliable guide to Wundt’s entire work, a pleasant invitation to his complex ideas.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.