Now in print in the Spring 2017 issue of the American Journal of Psychology is the most recent digital history piece by Christopher Green (left): “Publish and Perish: Psychology’s Most Prolific Authors Are Not Always the Ones We Remember.” The abstract reads,
What is the relationship between being highly prolific in the realm of publication and being remembered as a great psychologist of the past? In this study, the PsycINFO database was used to identify the historical figures who wrote the most journal articles during the half-century from 1890 to 1939. Although a number of the 10 most prolific authors are widely remembered for their influence on the discipline today—E. L. Thorndike, Karl Pearson, E. B. Titchener, Henri Piéron—the majority are mostly forgotten. The data were also separated into the 5 distinct decades. Once again, a mixture of eminent and obscure individuals made appearances. Most striking, perhaps, was the great increase in articles published over the course of the half-century—approximately doubling each decade—and the enormous turnover in who was most prolific, decade over decade. In total, 100 distinct individuals appeared across just 5 lists of about 25 names each.
Forthcoming in the European Journal of Developmental Psychology is an article by AHP’s Christopher Green exploring the relationship between American psychologist G. Stanley Hall’s developmental theory and the work of Ernst Haeckel (right) on recapitualtionism. Full details follow below.
“Hall’s developmental theory and Haeckel’s recapitulationism,” by Christopher D. Green. The abstract reads,
G. Stanley Hall was one of the leading American psychologists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. He is best known today for his administrative accomplishments—founding the first psychology research laboratory in the US, launching the American Journal of Psychology and other journals, presiding over Clark University, and assembling the American Psychological Association, among other things. In his time, though, he was also well known for his pioneering work in what came to be called developmental psychology. The theoretical foundation of this research was the recapitulationist evolutionary theory of his contemporary, Ernst Haeckel. Whereas Haeckel proposed that the embryonic development of each organism follows the evolutionary history of its species, Hall argued that the postnatal developmental path of the child’s mind and behaviour follows the evolutionary path of the human species as a whole. Thus, according to Hall, children are psychologically similar to “primitive” humans, and “primitive” humans are psychologically akin to our children of today. This article explores the relationship between Hall’s work and Haeckel’s.
The lead article in the September issue of the Review of General Psychology is a piece by AHP’s Christopher Green (right) on the persistent issue of unification in psychology. In “Why psychology isn’t unified, and probably never will be” Green argues that unification is unlikely to ever occur within the discipline. The abstract reads,
Over the past few decades, a large literature has emerged on the question of how one might unify all or most of psychology under a single, coherent, rigorous framework, in a manner similar to that which unified physics under Newton’s Laws, or biology under Darwin’s theory of natural selection. It is argued here that this is a highly unlikely scenario in psychology given the contingent and opportunistic character of the processes that brought its original topics together into a new discipline, and the nearly continuous institutional, social, and even political negotiating and horse-trading that has determined psychology’s “boundaries” in the 14 decades since. Psychology, as the field currently stands, does not have the intellectual coherence to be brought together by any set of principles that would enable its phenomena to be captured and explained as rigorous products of those principles. If there is a kind of unification in psychology’s future, it is more likely to be one that, paradoxically, sees it broken up into a number of large “super subdisciplines,” each of which exhibits more internal coherence than does the current sprawling and heterogeneous whole.
The most recent issue of the American Journal of Psychology includes an article exploring the journal’s earliest years of publication. In “The Evolution of The American Journal of Psychology 1, 1887– 1903: A Network Investigation” Christopher Green and Ingo Feinerer use the methods of the digital humanities to network the journal’s content. The abstract reads,
The American Journal of Psychology (AJP) was the first academic journal in the united states dedicated to the “new” scientific form of the discipline. But where did the journal’s founding owner/editor, G. Stanley Hall, find the “psychologists” he needed to fill the pages of such a venture 1887, when he was still virtually the only professor of psychology in the country? To investigate this question we used the substantive vocabularies of every full article published in AJP’s first 14 volumes to generate networks of verbally similar articles. These networks reveal the variety of research communities that hall drew on to launch and support the journal. three separate networks, corresponding to 3 successive time blocks, show how hall’s constellation of participating research communities changed over AJP’s first 17 years. Many of these communities started with rather nebulous boundaries but soon began to differentiate into groups of more distinct specialties. some topics declined over time, but new ones regularly appeared to replace them. We sketch a quasievolutionary model to describe the intellectual ecology of AJP’s early years.
The April 2012 issue of the American Psychological Association‘s Monitor on Psychology is now online. This month’s Time Capsule section includes a piece from AHP‘s own Christopher Green who recounts the story of psychologist Coleman Griffith’s early work with the Chicago Cubs. In America’s First Sport Psychologist, Green writes
Griffith opened America’s first athletics research laboratory at the University of Illinois in 1925. Although the lab attracted some attention at the time, university trustees shut it down after only six years. Official accounts blamed cutbacks on the Depression, but rumors circulated that Illinois football coach Robert Zupke had recommended its closure. Griffith was shifted into a middling administrative role, and it looked like his sport research days were over. But then Wrigley came calling late in 1937 not only with a job, but also with an equipment budget, a laboratory in Chicago and an invitation to join the Cubs for spring training on Santa Catalina Island off the southern California coast. Griffith bought his lab gear — including high-speed movie cameras and chronoscopes — and headed west.
Whatever benefits Wrigley and Griffith thought a psychologist might bring to a professional sports team, the Cubs coaching staff had other ideas. Manager Charlie Grimm had apparently slid into a depression so severe toward the end of the previous season that he had been temporarily replaced by one of the players, catcher and future Hall-of- Famer Gabby Hartnett. The team led the National League into late August of 1937, but slipped into second in the first week of September and finished there. Grimm returned for the 1938 season, but most of the players did not think he would last. Apparently, Grimm felt the pressure. He mocked the “headshrinkers,” as he called them, and ordered his players not to cooperate.
Read the entire piece online here.