The September 2012 issue of the American Psychological Association‘s Monitor on Psychology is now online. Included in this issue’s Time Capsule section is a piece by section editor Katharine Milar. In “William James and the Sixth Sense,” Milar discusses William James’s foray into experimental research with his investigation of the function of the inner ear (right) and the experience of dizziness. In the early 1880s, to test whether individuals with inner ear damage experienced dizziness, James
… initiated a study of dizziness in Harvard students and in deaf individuals. Participants closed their eyes and sat on a swing that was rotated until its ropes were tightly twisted together. After the swing ropes were allowed to rapidly unwind, the experimenter asked the participants to open their eyes and try to walk a straight line.
Of the 200 Harvard students and instructors, only one did not experience dizziness. But of the 519 deaf children, a majority reported only slight dizziness or none at all. James reported some preliminary results of the study in 1881 in the Harvard University Bulletin. The following year, he published his complete findings in the American Journal of Otology, acknowledging that more thorough research was needed and “in the hope that some one [sic] with better opportunities may carry on the work.”
Read the full piece online here.
The February 2011 issue of the APA Monitor on Psychology is now online. The Time Capsule section of this issue features an article by Katharine Milar on psychologist Evelyn Hooker’s work refuting homosexuality as a mental illness. “The Myth Buster” details Hooker’s study of gay men, the results of which were presented at the APA’s 1956 Annual Convention in Chicago and published the following year as “The Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexual”. The study would, as Milar asserts, help lead to the “removal of homosexuality as a form of psychopathology from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual III of the American Psychiatric Association” in 1973. For the study Hooker
recruited 30 exclusively homosexual and 30 exclusively heterosexual men, matched for age, IQ scores and education….Each participant took three projective tests: The Rorschach, the Make a Picture Story Test (MAPS) and the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT). After scoring the tests herself, she then gave the test protocols with all identifying information removed to experts in those tests: Bruno Klopfer for the Rorschach, Edward Shneidman, the inventor of MAPS, and Mortimer Meyer for the TAT. An adjustment rating was assigned to each participant based on the test scores, and then the experts were given paired Rorschach protocols, one from a gay participant, one from a straight participant and asked to identify the homosexual. As with heterosexuals, homosexuals’ adjustment varied from superior to disturbed. Two-thirds of the research participants in each group were judged as having average or better adjustment. Further, experts were unable to identify the gay participant’s protocol from the matched pairs at better than chance accuracy. There was no association between homosexuality and psychological maladjustment. One of her experts, who was sure he could distinguish the groups, asked for another chance to review the protocols, but was no more successful the second time than the first.
The full article can be read online here.