Reception of experimental pedagogy and psychology in Chile. Analysis of the intellectual influences of Wilhelm Mann, 1904–1915

AHP readers will be interested in a new piece in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences: “Reception of experimental pedagogy and psychology in Chile. Analysis of the intellectual influences of Wilhelm Mann, 1904–1915,” Juan David Millán, Gonzalo Salas. Abstract:

This article provides a detailed analysis of the intellectual research project of Wilhelm Mann, one of the pioneers of experimental and educational psychology in Chile. Mann’s work has been the object of so little analysis that his intellectual influences and networks are not clearly known. We analyzed 338 intratext citations from 22 works by Wilhelm Mann published during the period 1904–1915. As a result, we obtained a mapping of his cooperation networks and used a quantitative approach to study the authors who most influenced his career, among whom were William Stern, Herbert Spencer, Wilhelm Wundt, Alfred Binet, and Ernst Meumann. Mann was closely connected to the international and contemporary advances and discussions of his time, despite the lack of infrastructure and difficulties in communication. Mann was the first psychologist to develop a long-term project in Chile that aimed to measure the individualities of Chilean students and their intellectual development.

The book history of Rona M. Fields’s A Society on the Run (1973): A case study in the alleged suppression of psychological research on Northern Ireland

A new open-access piece in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences will interest AHP readers: “The book history of Rona M. Fields’s A Society on the Run (1973): A case study in the alleged suppression of psychological research on Northern Ireland,” Gavin Miller. Abstract:

The US psychologist Rona M. Field’s book A Society on the Run (1973) offered a psychological account of the nature and effects of the Northern Irish Troubles at their peak in the early 1970s. The book was withdrawn shortly after publication by its publisher, Penguin Books Limited, and never reissued. Fields alleged publicly that the book had been suppressed by the British state, a claim that has often been treated uncritically. Local Northern Irish psychologists suggested that the book was taken off the market because of its scientific deficiencies. Rigorous book-historical investigation using Penguin editorial fields reveals, however, that what might appear to be a case of state suppression, or an instance of disciplinary boundary work, can be explained instead by the commercial interests and professional standards of a publisher keen to preserve its reputation for quality and reliability.

The moral economy of diversity: How the epistemic value of diversity transforms late modern knowledge cultures

A new piece in History of the Human Sciences may interest AHP readers: “The moral economy of diversity: How the epistemic value of diversity transforms late modern knowledge cultures,” Nicolas Langlitz and Clemente de Althaus. Abstract:

We may well be witnessing a decisive event in the history of knowledge as diversity is becoming one of the premier values of late modern societies. We seek to preserve and foster biodiversity, neurodiversity, racial diversity, ethnic diversity, gender diversity, linguistic diversity, cultural diversity, and perspectival diversity. Perspectival diversity has become the passage point through which other forms of diversity must pass to become epistemically consequential. This article examines how two of its varieties, viewpoint diversity and educational diversity, have come to transform the moral economy of science. Both aim at multiplying perspectives on a given subject, but their political subtexts differ markedly. The valorization of educational diversity followed a US Supreme Court decision in 1978 that enabled universities to advance social justice, if they justified race-conscious admissions in terms of the pedagogic benefits of a more diverse student body for all. By contrast, the proponents of viewpoint diversity aim at the reform of scientific knowledge production and distribution rather than the reallocation of status and power among different social groups. We examine the political epistemology of viewpoint diversity by analyzing a controversy between social psychologists who, amid the American culture wars of the 2010s, debated how to rein in their political biases in a scientific field supposedly lacking political diversity. Out of this scientific controversy grew Heterodox Academy, an activist organization promoting viewpoint diversity in higher education. By relating and comparing viewpoint and educational diversity, we clarify what is at stake epistemically in the US-centric moral economy of diversity

May 2023 History of Psychology

The May 2023 issue of History of Psychology is now online. Titles, authors, and abstracts below.

““That imperfect instrument”: Galton’s whistle, Bierce’s damned thing, and the phenomenon of superior nonhuman sensory range,” Burton, Gregory. Abstract:

When the Galton whistle was introduced in the 1870s, it was the first demonstration many had encountered of the phenomenon that nonhumans sometimes exceed humans in sensory range, for example perceiving ultraviolet light and ultrasonic signals. While some empirical research had explored this possibility beforehand, this area of perceptual research progressed slowly. A horror short story by Ambrose Bierce in 1893, “The Damned Thing,” used the concept of superior nonhuman sensory range as a twist ending, seemingly anticipating scientific discoveries to come or at least understanding the implications of the early findings well in advance of the field. This article analyzes Bierce’s possible sources, with Bierce representing the general educated nonscientist and providing insights into the spread of this concept into public and scientific awareness.

““Down with fascism, up with science”: Activist psychologists in the U.S., 1932–1941,” Free to read. Harris, Ben. Abstract:

At the height of the Depression, more psychologists in the U.S. were awarded degrees than could find jobs. Master’s level graduates were particularly affected, holding positions that were tenuous, and they rejected second-class membership offered by the American Psychological Association. In response to this employment crisis, two Columbia University MA graduates created The Psychological Exchange, a journal that offered graduates and established colleagues a forum for news, job ads, and for discussing the expansion of psychology to address problems of the Depression. This article describes the Exchange and its unique window into psychologists debating how to reshape their field. In 1934, it was used by young Marxists to launch The Psychologists’ League, which agitated for colleagues who lost their jobs, tried to make research socially relevant, and connected with movements for the “social reconstruction” of society. It raised the consciousness of its members and sympathizers by linking to worldwide antifascist struggles while fighting antisemitism and nativism at home. While previous accounts make the League seem a spontaneous eruption, this article shows how members of the Communist Party created it, then controlled its agenda and activities. During the Stalin-Hitler pact they followed Stalin’s anti-war ideology and the League became a shell organization. Its members, nonetheless, creatively mixed psychological concepts and political ideology, drawing in colleagues through discussion groups, demonstrations, and social events. Sources for this work include unpublished correspondence, a diary, and Federal Bureau of Investigation files that reveal more complex lives than previously portrayed.

“Charlotte Bühler and her emigration to the United States: A clarifying note regarding the loss of a professorship at Fordham University,” Schneider, Wolfgang; Stock, Armin. Abstract:

Although Charlotte Bühler (1893–1974) was one of the most prominent female psychologists during the first half of the last century, she never received a full professorship in a psychology department. In this paper, we discuss possible reasons for this failure and focus on problems related to an offer from Fordham University in 1938 that never materialized. Our analysis based on unpublished documents indicates that Charlotte Bühler provided incorrect reasons for the failure in her autobiography. Moreover, we found no evidence that Karl Bühler ever received an offer from Fordham University. Overall, our reconstruction of events indicates that Charlotte Bühler came very close to her goal of receiving a full professorship at a research university, but unfavorable political developments and her suboptimal decisions were involved in the unfortunate outcome.

“The diffusion of Bruner’s psychological research in China and its impact,” Wang, Jing; Huo, Yongquan. Abstract:

Jerome S. Bruner (1915–2016) is a legendary figure in psychology and one of the most influential psychologists and educators of this era. His research interests were diverse, and his achievements were impressive. Although Bruner’s contributions are significant, no studies have been undertaken to investigate the value and impact of his theories outside the United States, to the detriment of scholarship. To fill this research gap, this article analyzes Chinese research on Bruner’s work to determine the influence of such research in China. Through a systematic historical investigation and theoretical interpretation, this article indicates the different stages of transmission, outstanding contributions, and future development path of Bruner’s influence on Chinese psychology. This serves to expand the field of research psychology. Promoting the diversified integration of psychology and obtaining an in-depth understanding of the frontier issues that this international psychologist was concerned with has important academic significance for the future development of Chinese psychology.

News & Notes

“Notes from the archives: Margaret Floy Washburn and her cats,” Mitchell, Rebecca; Harris, Ben. Abstract:

Margaret Floy Washburn was one of the leading psychologists of her generation, whose most important work was The Animal Mind (Goodman, 1980). As E. G. Boring noted, that text “reflected her own love of animals and her intense interest in their behavior” (1971, p. 547). What about the role of animals in Washburn’s personal life?

“Giving the history of psychology away in behavior analysis,” Morris, Edward K.; Morris, Cody. Abstract:

Based on a symposium at the 2018 meeting of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI; E. K. Morris, 2018), the December 2022 issue of Perspectives on Behavior Science (PoBS)—ABAI’s house journal—published a special section on teaching the history of behavior analysis. It was inspired by George Miller’s (1969) urging that psychologists promote human welfare by discovering how “to give psychology away” (p. 1074). The special section of PoBS urged readers to promote the history of behavior analysis by giving it away. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved)

Völkerpsychologie as a field science: José Miguel de Barandiarán and Basque ethnology

AHP readers will be interested in a new open-access piece in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences: “Völkerpsychologie as a field science: José Miguel de Barandiarán and Basque ethnology,” by Aitor Anduaga. Abstract:

José Miguel de Barandiarán considered the central figure of Basque anthropology, played a prominent role in the Basque people’s cultural rescue (material and spiritual). His dual status as an ethnologist and priest prepared him to study collective mentalities and rural societies. However, the scientific approach of the Völkerpsychologie (roughly translated as ethnic psychology), as proposed by Wilhelm Wundt, greatly influenced him and aroused broad interests of ethnological and sociological–religious concerns. This essay examines the scope and depth of Wundt’s influence on Barandiarán, and suggests that, by combining the techniques of folklore with those of ethnography, Barandiarán stamped Basque anthropology with a unique defining quality in Europe.

Biocultural psychopathology as a new epistemology for mental disorders

A new piece in History of Psychiatry may interest AHP readers: “Biocultural psychopathology as a new epistemology for mental disorders,” by Caio Maximino. Abstract:

Psychopathology has been criticized for decades for its reliance on a brain-centred and over-reductionist approach which views mental disorders as disease-like natural kinds. While criticisms of brain-centred psychopathologies abound, these criticisms sometimes ignore important advances in the neurosciences which view the brain as embodied, embedded, extended and enactive, and as fundamentally plastic. A new onto-epistemology for mental disorders is proposed, focusing on a biocultural model, in which human brains are understood as embodied and embedded in ecosocial niches, and with which individuals enact particular transactions characterized by circular causality. In this approach, neurobiological bases are inseparable from interpersonal and socio-cultural factors. This approach leads to methodological changes in how mental disorders are studied and dealt with.

The pincer movement of The Idea of a Social Science: Winch, Collingwood, and philosophy as a human science

AHP readers may be interested in a new open-access piece in History of the Human Sciences: “The pincer movement of The Idea of a Social Science: Winch, Collingwood, and philosophy as a human science,” by Jonas Ahlskog and Olli Lagerspetz. Abstract:

This article argues that, in order to understand Peter Winch’s view of philosophy, it is profitable to read him together with R. G. Collingwood’s philosophy of history. Collingwood was both an important source for Winch and a thinker engaged in a closely parallel philosophical pursuit. Collingwood and Winch shared the view that philosophy is an effort to understand the various ways in which human beings make reality intelligible. For both, this called for rapprochement between philosophy and the humanities. Like Collingwood, Winch wanted to reformulate philosophy as a form of human science. Both thinkers advanced a conception of logic where the validity of judgements, propositions, and thought are dependent on their function as instruments in human dialogue. In their treatments of logic, Winch and Collingwood were fleshing out their idea that questions concerning human meaningful behaviour also tie back to the question of what philosophical analysis is about. There is a deep connection between two main issues in both Collingwood’s and Winch’s writings: on the one hand, the need for ‘internal’ understanding of how human beings relate to reality, and on the other hand, their critique of the idea of logic as a self-sufficient system, external to historically embedded forms of life. At the core of their shared vision there was a comprehensive critique of metaphysical realism.

Rudolph Hermann Lotze’s philosophically informed psychology

A new open-access article in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences will interest AHP readers: “Rudolph Hermann Lotze’s philosophically informed psychology,” Michele Vagnetti. Abstract:

This essay deals with four main topics: the notion of philosophical psychology; the idea that physical events and mental events cannot be compared to one another; psychophysical mechanism; and the theory of local signs. These are all key elements in the Medicinische Psychologie of Rudolph Hermann Lotze (1817?1881). By philosophical psychology, Lotze understands not only the collection of experimental data regarding physiological and mental states but also their philosophical processing outlining an interpretation of the real nature of the mind?body connection. Within this framework, Lotze introduces the psychophysical mechanism as based on a key philosophical idea: mind and body are incomparable, but, nevertheless, they are in reciprocal relation (Wechselwirkung). In virtue of said special relation, movements that take place in the mental sphere of reality are transferred or translated in the bodily sphere and vice versa. This rearrangement (Umgestaltung) from one sphere of reality to the other is termed by Lotze “transformation to equivalent.” Through the concept of equivalence, Lotze supports the idea that the mind and the body form an organic whole. However, psychophysical mechanisms should not be seen as not a fixed series of physical changes followed by an equally fixed series of mental changes: physical changes are “read,” organized, and then transformed by the mind into something purely mental. This, in turn, produces new mechanical force and more physical changes. Lotze’s legacy and long-term impact is finally read against the background of his contributions.

New HHS with a Special Section: Archiving the COVID-19 pandemic in Mass Observation and Middletown

The April 2023 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online. This issue includes a special section on “Archiving the COVID-19 pandemic in Mass Observation and Middletown” guest edited by Nick Clarke and Clive Barnett. Full titles, authors, and abstracts below.

Special Section: Archiving the COVID-19 pandemic in Mass Observation and Middletown

“Archiving the COVID-19 pandemic in Mass Observation and Middletown,” by Nick Clarke and Clive Barnett. Open-access. Abstract:

The COVID-19 pandemic generated debates about how pandemics should be known. There was much discussion of what role the human sciences could play in knowing – and governing – the pandemic. In this article, we focus on attempts to know the pandemic through diaries, other biographical writing, and related forms like mass photography. In particular, we focus on the archiving of such forms by Mass Observation in the UK and the Everyday Life in Middletown (EDLM) project in the USA, and initial analyses of such material by scholars from across the human sciences. Our main argument is that archiving the pandemic was informed by, and needs viewing through, the history of the human sciences – including the distinctive histories and human sciences of Mass Observation and Middletown. The article finishes by introducing a Special Section that engages with archiving the pandemic in two senses: the archiving of diaries and related forms by Mass Observation and the EDLM project, and the archiving of initial encounters between researchers and this material by History of the Human Sciences. The Special Section seeks to know the pandemic from the human sciences in the present and to archive knowing the pandemic from the human sciences for the future.

“Rupture, repetition, and new rhythms for pandemic times: Mass Observation, everyday life, and COVID-19,” by Dawn Lyon. Open-access. Abstract:

The COVID-19 pandemic has foregrounded the significance of time to everyday life, as the routines, pace, and speed of social relations were widely reconfigured. This article uses rhythm as an object and tool of inquiry to make sense of spatio-temporal change. We analyse the Mass Observation (MO) directive we co-commissioned on ‘COVID-19 and Time’, where volunteer writers reflect on whether and how time was made, experienced, and imagined differently during the early stages of the pandemic in the UK. We draw on Henri Lefebvre and Catherine Régulier’s ‘rhythmanalysis’, taking up their theorisation of rhythm as linear and cyclical and their concepts of arrhythmia (discordant rhythms) and eurhythmia (harmonious rhythms). Our analysis highlights how MO writers articulate (a) the ruptures to their everyday rhythms across time and space, (b) their experience of ‘blurred’ or ‘merged’ time as everyday rhythms are dissolved and the pace of time is intensified or slowed, and (c) the remaking of rhythms through new practices or devices and attunements to nature. We show how rhythm enables a consideration of the spatio-temporal textures of everyday life, including their unevenness, variation, and difference. The article thus contributes to and expands recent scholarship on the social life of time, rhythm and rhythmanalysis, everyday life, and MO.

“Seeing like an epidemiologist? Mobilising people against COVID-19,” by Nick Clarke and Clive Barnett. Abstract:

Diaries and other materials in the Mass Observation Archive have been characterised as intersubjective and dialogic. They have been used to study top-down and bottom-up processes, including how ordinary people respond to sociological constructs and, more broadly, the footprint of social science in the 20th century. In this article, we use the Archive’s COVID-19 collections to study how attempts to govern the pandemic by mobilising ordinary people to see like an epidemiologist played out in the United Kingdom during 2020. People were asked to think in terms of populations and groups; rates, trends, and distributions; the capacity of public services; and complex systems of causation. How did they respond? How did they use the statistics, charts, maps, concepts, identities, and roles they were given? We find evidence of engagement with science plural; confident and comfortable engagement with epidemiological terms and concepts; sceptical and reluctant engagement with epidemiological subject positions; use of both scientific and moral literacy to negotiate regulations and guidance; and use of scientific literacy to compare and judge government performance. Governing the pandemic through scientific literacy was partially successful, but in some unexpected ways.

“‘There is nothing less spectacular than a pestilence’: Picturing the pandemic in Mass Observation’s COVID-19 collections,” by Annebella Pollen. Open-access. Abstract:

What is to be gained by studying visual observation in Mass Observation’s COVID-19 collections? What can we see of the pandemic through diarists’ images and words? Visual methods were part of the plural research strategies of social research organisation Mass Observation (MO) in its first phase, when it was established in 1937, but remained marginal in relation to textual research methods. This continues with the post-1981 revival of the Mass Observation Project (MOP), with its emphasis on life writing. With wider shifts in technology and accessibility, however, even when they are not solicited, photographs now accompany MOP correspondents’ submissions. In MO’s substantial COVID-19 collections, images appear in or as diary entries across a range of forms, including hand-drawn illustrations, correspondent-generated photographs, creative photomontages, and screengrabs of memes. In addition, diarists offer textual reflections on COVID-19’s image cultures, such as the role of photographs in pandemic news media, as well as considering how the pandemic is intersecting with the visual in more abstract ways, from themes of surveillance and ‘Staying Alert’ in public health messaging to internal pictorial imaginaries produced as a result of isolation and contemplation. Positioning these materials in relation to wider patterns in pandemic visual culture, including public photographic collecting projects that make explicit reference to MO as their inspiration, this article considers the contribution of the visual submissions and image-rich writing in MO’s COVID-19 collections to the depiction of a virus commonly characterised as invisible.

“Time shifts: Place, belonging, and future orientation in pandemic everyday life,” by Patrick Collier and James J. Connolly. Abstract:

The disruptions to everyday life wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic include distortions in the experience of time, as reported widely by ordinary citizens and observed by journalists and social scientists. But how does this temporal disruption play out in different time scales—in the individual day as opposed to the medium- and long-term futures? And how might place influence how individuals experience and understand the pandemic’s temporal transformations? This essay examines a range of temporal disruptions reported in day diaries and surveys submitted to the Everyday Life in Middletown project, an online archive that has been documenting ordinary life in Muncie, Indiana, USA since 2016. Viewing these materials as instances of life writing, the essay probes the interactions between temporal disruptions and the local setting as they inflect the autobiographical selves our writers construct in their pandemic writings. It shows how living in Muncie—a postindustrial city with its particular combination of historical, demographic, economic, social, and political dynamics—structures the autobiographical stories available to our writers, and how the disruption of time produces new variations and problems for life writing. In the midst of a global crisis, we glimpse the pandemic’s reshaping of a local structure of feeling in which a pervasive, local narrative of civic decline frames individual self-fashioning.

“A genealogy of the scalable subject: Measuring health in the Cornell Study of Occupational Retirement (1950–60),” by Tiago Moreira. Open-access. Abstract:

Increased use of scales in data-driven consumer digital platforms and the management of organisations has led to greater interest in understanding social and psychological measurement expertise and techniques as historically constituted ‘technologies of power’ in the making of what Stark has labelled the ‘scalable subject’. Taking a genealogical approach, and drawing on published and archival data, this article focuses on self-rated health, a scale widely used in population censuses, national health surveys, patient-reported outcome measurement tools, and a variety of digital apps. The article suggests that the first methodological articulation of self-rated health by the investigators of the Cornell Study of Occupational Retirement (1951–58) provides a window into the key epistemic, institutional, and cultural uncertainties about psychological and social measurement, processes of adjustment to ‘old age’, and the capacity of individuals to value their own health. I propose that these uncertainties have become incorporated into extant and operational measurements of health.

“Racial anthropology in Turkey and transnational entanglements in the making of scientific knowledge: Seniha Tunakan’s academic trajectory, 1930s–1970s,” Nazan Maksudyan. Open-access. Abstract:

This article situates the trajectory of the academic life of Seniha Tunakan (1908–2000) within the development of anthropology as a scientific discipline in Turkey and its transnational connections to Europe during the interwar period and up until the second half of the 20th century. Relying on the archives of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, the archive of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amtes in Germany, and the Prime Ministry’s Republican Archives in Turkey, it focuses on the doctoral studies of Seniha Tunakan in Germany and her life as a female PhD researcher in the capital of the Third Reich, as well as her entire research career after her return to Turkey. Through Tunakan’s career, the article also provides an analysis of the perpetuation of German race science in the Turkish context, shedding light upon the success of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Anthropologie, menschliche Erblehre und Eugenik (Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics) and its transnational impact.

“I never promised you a rose garden.… When landscape architecture becomes a laboratory for the Anthropocene,” by Henriette Steiner. Abstract:

In the summer of 2017, wildflower seeds were spread on a large, empty open space close to a motorway flyover just outside Copenhagen, Denmark. This was an effort to use non-mechanical methods to prepare the soil for an ‘urban forest’ to be established on the site, since the flowers’ roots would penetrate the ground and enable the planned new trees to settle. As a result, the site was transformed into a gorgeous meadow, and all summer long Copenhageners were invited to come and pick the flowers. In this article, I critically examine different aspects of this project – including the role of design, the perception of nature–culture relationships, climate change, and flower-picking as an event – in relation to my personal experience of visiting this meadow both on-site and on social media. The different temporalities that clash at the site give rise to conflicting interpretations, and I suggest that the meadow can be seen as a living plant archive of the Anthropocene, both physically and digitally. In doing so, I introduce and critique key conceptual pairs, including archive/death and bloom/decay, suggested by Lee Edelman’s queer cross-reading of Jacques Derrida’s ‘Archive Fever’ and Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I thereby contrast flower motifs pertaining to the cycles of blooming, decay, and nature’s (failed) eternal return in the meadow with the expansive futurity of the digitally mediated archive.

Reflections on the use of patient records: Privacy, ethics, and reparations in the history of psychiatry

A new open-access piece in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences will interest AHP readers: “Reflections on the use of patient records: Privacy, ethics, and reparations in the history of psychiatry,” by Jonathan Sadowsky and Kylie Smith. Abstract:

One of the most common questions we get asked as historians of psychiatry is “do you have access to patient records?” Why are people so fascinated with the psychiatric patient record? Do people assume they are or should be available? Does access to the patient record actually tell us anything new about the history of psychiatry? And if we did have them, what can, or should we do with them? In the push to both decolonize and personalize the history of psychiatry, as well as make some kind of account or reparation for past mistakes, how can we proceed in an ethical manner that respects the privacy of people in the past who never imagined their intensely personal psychiatric encounter as subject for future historians? In this paper, we want to think through some of the issues that we deal with as white historians of psychiatry especially at the intersection of privacy, ethics, and racism. We present our thoughts as a conversation, structured around questions we have posed for ourselves, and building on discussions we have had together over the past few years. We hope that they act as a catalyst for further discussion in the field.