Tag Archives: Cathy Faye

A History of Panic Over Entertainment Technology

New in the online magazine Behavioral Scientist, as part of a special issue on “Connected State of Mind,” is a piece on  “A History of Panic Over Entertainment Technology” by Christopher J. Ferguson and Cathy Faye. As they note,

Since the earliest twentieth century, psychologists have been concerned with how technology affects health and well-being. In the 1930s, they weighed the effects of listening to the radio. In the 1960s, they turned their attention to television. And in more recent years, they have expanded their research to video games and cell phone use. Psychologists have always been vocal on questions about the long-term effects of entertainment technology.

However, both the past and present debates suggest that answering questions about the pros and cons of entertainment technology is complicated. Research findings have been mixed and therefore not easily translatable into policy statements, news headlines, or advice for parents. This was true in 1960 and it is true today.

Take, for example, debates regarding televised violence and childhood aggression. Between 1950 and 1970, televisions became a standard presence in American homes. However, not everyone believed they were a welcome addition. Parents, educators, and politicians questioned what they saw as excess violence and sexuality on TV.

In 1969, the Surgeon General’s Office deemed TV violence a public health problem and called on psychologists to provide definitive evidence on its effects. The million-dollar project was modeled on the well-known Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee on health-related risks of tobacco use. It was hoped that evidence from the social and behavioral sciences could similarly close the case on television violence and aggressive behavior.

Read the full piece here.

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Milgram’s Obedience to Authority Experiment on Mysteries at the Museum

Stanley Milgram’s infamous obedience to authority experiments have made their way to the Travel Channel. The study appears – in highly dramatized form – in the February 6th episode of Mysteries at the Museum.  Helping describe the study is Cathy Faye, Assistant Director of the Center for the History of Psychology in Akron, Ohio. The simulated shock generator from Milgram’s experiment now resides in the Center’s Museum.

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Lessons from Bird Brains

The December issue of the American Psychological Association‘s Monitor on Psychology is now online. This month’s Time Capsule section features a piece, “Lessons from Bird Brains,” by Cathy Faye on the work of Eckhard Hess on imprinting. Faye writes,

In the 1950s, Hess and A.O. Ramsay, a high school biology teacher from Maryland, began studying imprinting in the laboratory with papier-mâché mallard ducks fitted with off-center wheels that mimicked waddling. The researchers created a great variety of model ducks to experiment with, including ducks with moving heads and ducks with built-in heaters.

By means of pulleys and cords operated from a distance, Hess and his colleagues released newly hatched ducklings from a small cardboard box. The model duck would emit a sound — either a tape-recorded duck call or a human mimicking one — and move around a runway via a motorized arm. Levers on the runway floor kept track of the ducklings’ steps to measure their following behavior. At the end of the experiment, a trap door in the runway’s floor returned the ducklings to their box.

The full piece can be read online here.

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Interview: Special Issue on “Crisis” in Psychology

AHP is please to present an interview with Annette Mülberger (left) and Thomas Sturm (right), editors of a fantastic forthcoming special issue of Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences on the long history of crisis declarations in psychology. The issue is the culmination of a larger research project on crisis debates in psychology. Although the issue itself has not yet been released, the articles comprising it can now be accessed online in their entirety. Read on to discover how the issue came to be, which crisis declarations are addressed in the issue, why such declarations matter, and much more!

Titles, authors, and abstracts to the issue’s articles follow below the interview.

AHP: Can you tell Advances in the History of Psychology’s readers, briefly, about the topic of this special issue of Studies in the History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences?

Annette: The topic is the manifold crisis declarations and discussions psychology has seen – and partly suffered – since the late nineteenth century. It’s a topic that has not been studied very systematically by either philosophers or historians of the field. Instead, some psychologists have dealt with it, pursuing reflections on the methodological or theoretical or practical problems of psychology.

AHP: How did the issue come to be?

Thomas: The topic was originally Annette’s idea. I needed about three seconds to accept the project because of its potential for integrating historical and philosophical investigations, something I think is necessary. Not always, but often. The topic also presented an occasion for me to work on the Viennese psychologist and philosopher Karl Bühler and his student Karl Popper, a relation I had found interesting. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences is a great journal for such a topic. The editors accepted our proposal quickly.

AHP: Who are the contributors to the issue?

Thomas: An international group of historians and philosophers of psychology, of course. Next to ourselves, these are Christian Allesch, John Carson, Cathy Faye, Uljana Feest, Horst Gundlach, Gary Hatfield, and Ludmila Hyman. We looked deliberately for people who had, in their previous work, shown sensitivity to both disciplines. Needless to say, some contributions put a little more weight on the historical than the philosophical dimensions, or the other way around. We had to push each other to give sufficient weight to both aspects, and that was instructive for all of us – and even fun.

AHP: What instances of crisis declarations in psychology do the articles in the special issue address?

Annette: The contributions begin with the first explicitly so-called declaration of a crisis in psychology by the nowadays mostly unknown Swiss philosopher-psychologist named Rudolf Willy, stemming from 1897 and followed by a whole book in 1899. Continue reading Interview: Special Issue on “Crisis” in Psychology

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Bibliography: History of Social Psychology

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.

Books

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

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