Chapter One The Evolution of Psychology

A. From Speculation to Science: How Psychology Developed

Psychology has developed from theoreticial speculations about the mind into a modern behavioral science.

  1. Origins
  2. Psychology as a Science is Born
  3. Structualism Versus Functionalism
  4. Behaviorism Makes Its Debut
  5. Gestalt Psychology Challenges Behaviorism
  6. Freud Brings the Unconscious into the Picture
  7. Skinner Questions Free Will as Behaviorism Flourishes
  8. Psychology Students May Have Already Fallen Asleep
  9. The Humanists Revolt
  10. Psychology Comes of Age as a Profession
  11. Psychology Returns to it Roots in Cognition and Physiology
  12. Psychology Broadens Its Horizons



Synopsis: Psychology traces its roots to philosophy and physiology. Philosophy provided the interest in the study of the mind and physiology provided the tools - the scientific method.


Philosophers strive to understand the nature of human knowledge and reality.


Dualism (click icon ))

web bio: Descartes (click icon)

Unfortunately, philosophical reasoning has limitations for psychological studies.

more web links

Physiology: The Method

Synopsis: Physiology focused on how living organisms function. Physiologists were especially interested in understanding how the mind receives and organizes information from senses.

Physiologists used a radically different approach based on observation rather than exclusively focusing on reasoning.

to the scientific method in the Research Chapter

Wundt and Hall Create a New Science

Wundt founded the first laboratory and successfully made psychology a science. Hall was one of his students and founded the first lab at Johns Hopkins University

web bio: Wilhelm Wundt
web bio: G. Stanley Hall

Structuralism versus Functionalism

Synopsis: An early battle for the definition and future direction of psychology was waged between Structuralism and Functionalism. Structuralism analyzed consciousness into its basic elements and how they inter related; Functionalism investigated the function or purpose of consciousness.


    Structuralism prominant in sensation and perception studies


web bio: Edward Titchnener

more web links


web bio: William James
more web links

Watson Alters Psychology's Course as Behaviorism Makes Its Debut

Synopsis: John Watson redefined psychology by proposing to get rid of the study of consciousness altogether. Only observable behavior became the subject matter of the science of psychology.

Web bio: John Watson

Gestalt Psychology Challenges Behaviorism

Synopsis: Gestalt Psychology resisted behaviorism's attempt at carving the whole of behavior into its parts. Gestalt Psychology emphasized conscious experience rather than a focus on observable behavior.

phi phenomenon

to discussion of how Gestalt Psychology helps us understand perception (not active - see page 140 in sensation and perception chapter)

Freud Brings the Unconscious Into the Picture

Freud's approach to psychology grew out of his efforts to treat mental disorders.

psychoanalytic theory
Freud NET
more web links

Skinner Questions Free Will as Behaviorism Flourishes

Synopsis: In response to modifications of the behavioral approach, Skinner returns to a strict focus on observable behavior. One extreme implication of his position that all behavior is fully governed by external stimuli is his conclusion that free will and decision making are illusions.

to Learning Chapter

more web links

(click icon ))

The Humanists Revolt

Synopsis Many thought behaviorism and psychoanalytic theories were dehumanizing. The humanists portrayed a different picture of human nature.


What is Humanism?

Carl Rogers


overview of Roger's theory

to Personality Chapter (p.489)

to Therapy Chapter (p.608)

more web links

Abraham Maslow

to Motivation and Emotion Chapter (p. 380-382)
to Personality Chapter (p.490)
theory overview
more web links

Psychology Comes of Age as a Profession

The development of the practical side of Psychology.

applied psychology
clinical psychology
web links

Psychology Returns to Its Roots: Renewed Interest in Cognition and Physiology

Synopsis: The cognitive perspective (Cognition ) points out that manipulations of mental images influence behavior. The biological perspective maintains that much of behavior can be explained by bodily structures and biochemical processes.

Psychology Broadens Its Horizons: Increased Interest in Cultural Diversity

Psychology has largely been a Western (North American and Eurpoean) Enterprise.


Web link

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