One Boy’s Day: A Specimen Record of Behavior is coming to the stage. The 1951 book, written by psychologist Roger Barker and Herbert Wright, details the life a young boy in Oskaloosa, Kansas. (Barker’s work has also been the subject of a recent biography, The Outsider: The Life and Times of Roger Barker, by Ariel Sabar.) The book
… is the focus of Mikel Rouse’s most ambitious performance to date, a 13-hour durational music, media and participatory installation that will premiere at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Spring 2020.
On April 26, 1949, eight observers, led by social scientists Roger Barker and Herbert Wright from the Midwest Psychological Field Station, painstakingly documented every word and movement of Raymond Birch, a seven-year-old boy from rural Kansas. Heralded as a sociological milestone, their 435-page report aimed to describe “how children actually behave in real-life situations” and offer insight into what makes an “ideal” American community. Divided into seven parts and structured as scenes from a play, the study is a meticulously timed minute-by-minute transcription of Raymond’s every activity from getting up and eating breakfast to playing with his friends, and from studying English and participating in music class to eating dinner and going to bed.
Over the next two years, director and composer Mikel Rouse together with video and set designers Jim Findlay and Jeff Sugg, lighting designer Hideaki Tsutsui, sound designer Christopher Ericson, music arranger Matthew Gandolfo and producer FuturePerfect Productions will transform Barker and Wright’s text into a multi-media playground and music concert precisely following the day-long observations made by Barker and his associates. Students and teachers from each venue’s local community will be invited onstage to occupy mimetic models of the boy’s home, school, playground and town courthouse.
As The New York Times reports, Winston Mosesley has died in prison at the age of 81. Mosesley infamously raped and murdered Kitty Genovese in New York City in 1964. The story that 38 bystanders stood by and did nothing as Genovese pled for help during the attack inspired the development of the “bystander effect” within psychology, which describes the diffusion of responsibility that occurs when events are witnessed by multiple individuals. That 38 bystanders in Genovese’s case witnessed the attack and did not intervene, however, has been discredited. (For more on the Genovese case see here.) The full New York Times piece, which describes the Genovese case and its historical significance, can be read online here.
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.
FYI, the American Historical Association’s website includes a handy dandy calendar tool that provides a chronology of wide-ranging relevant content for those interested in the happenings of the historical discipline more broadly. Included are meetings and seminars, exhibitions and interpretive resources, as well as awards and fellowships.
Follow this link to check it out!
Professors Hans Strasburger and Gerd Jüttemann are spearheading an effort to save Wilhelm Wundt’s house near Leipzig. You can contribute funds to the crowdfunding effort, or simply offer your support, here. Full details follow below.
Wilhelm Wundt (1832–1920), as is well known, pursued his historically outstanding work at the University of Leipzig and it could be said that he counts as the most distinguished founder of Psychology. He not only built the world’s first laboratory of experimental psychology in Leipzig but also developed a theory of conscious experience that was underpinned by the method of introspection. Wundt wrote influential books on many aspects of psychology and he was a champion of investigating psychological processes by means of experiment. He further initiated a culture-historically oriented developmental psychology, for which he coined the – now obsolete – term “folk psychology”.
The houses in Leipzig where Wundt lived were destroyed in the Second World War. His last residence, in Großbothen near Leipzig, has been preserved, however. Wilhelm Ostwald (1853–1932), the Nobel Prize winner for chemistry with whom Wundt was close friends, lived across the street; there is a well-kept memorial site there for Ostwald that is quite popular. Wundt’s building was constructed in the style of its time (see photo). It is no longer in the possession of Wundt’s descendants and was uninhabited for quite some time. Though it is heritage-protected, its current owner has no interest in its preservation and would be willing to sell it at a reasonable price. High renovation costs would arise in case of its acquisition but at the same time the German Foundation for the Maintenance of Historical Monuments (Deutsche Stiftung für Denkmalschutz) has signaled that it would generously support such a project. There already exists the “Wilhelm Wundt Room” at Leipzig’s Department of Psychology and the Adolf-Würth Center for the History of Psychology in Würzburg. Yet it would be desirable if there were a place where we could commemorate the person behind all these achievements, to inspire future generations, and Wundt’s house in Großbothen could be a possible location for it.
So to save the Wundt house we are considering initiating crowd funding. As you are probably aware, donations by that method are initially virtual. Only if the number of backers and prospective sums appear sufficient for realizing the project would those who have participated be asked whether, indeed, they would be willing to donate the prospective amount.
Please use the following link: