AP Psychology

Table of Contents

1 The Story of Psychology

Psychology is a science that seexs to answer all sorts of questions about us all: how we think, feel, and act.

1.1 Psychology's Roots

We as humans are very interested in "who am I?" and "how do I think?". Psychology was developed to offer insight into these questions.

psychology: the scientific study of behavior and mental processes

Psychology is more than philosophy as it is based around the core principles of science: careful observation of recreatable tests, and extensive analysis of the outcomes.

1.1.1 Prescientific Psychology

Before scientific psychology, there was philosophy. Great "thinkers", like Budda and Confucious, wondered how the mind or soul was connected to the body.

Socrates and Plato, in ancient Greece, concluded that the mind is separable from the body and continues after the body dies, and that knowledge is innate. Plato's student, Aristotle, however, was more data-driven and came to the conclusion that the soul is not separable from the body and that knowledge is gained from experience.

When modern science began to flourish in the 1600s, René Descartes thought that fluids in the brain held spirits that flowed through the nerves. Descartes was right about nerves, but compared to today the rest of his ideas seem foolish.

In Britain, Francis Bacon was pushing science to be more down-to-earth, with an emphasis on experiments and common-sense judgement.

50 years after Francis Bacon's death, John Locke took many of his ideas and adapted them into what is now called empiricism.

empiricism: the view that knowledge comes from experience via the senses, and science flourishes through observation and experiment

1.1.2 Psychological Science Is Born

Willhelm Wundt was trying to find "atoms of the mind", the fastest and simplest natural processes, by conducting an experiment about reaction time vs awareness time. In the first test, people were asked to press a button as soon as they heard a ball hit a platform. In the second test, they were asked to press the button as soon as they were aware that the ball hit the platform. On average, the first test resulted in about a one-tenth of a second delay, while the second resulted in two-tenths.

This is considered to be psychology's first experiment. The first psychological laboratory started here, staffed by Wundt and the first psychology graduate students.

This new science eventually became organized into different branches, including (or most importantly) branches for structuralism and functionalism. These different branches were promoted by pioneering thinkers.

  1. Thinking About the Mind's Structure

    Edward Bradford Titchener was one of Wundt's students. He received his Ph.D. in 1892, and shortly after joined the Cornell University faculty. He introduced structuralism in an attempt to "discover the elements of mind".

    structuralism: an early school of psychology that used introspection to explore the elemental structure of the human mind

    Introspection slowly died out due to unavailability and unreliability, and structuralism went with it.

  2. Thinking About the Mind's Functions

    William James decided it would be more appropriate to consider the functions of the mind rather than the structure. As a functionalist, James encouraged explorations of down-to-earth emotions, memories, will power, habits, and moment-to-moment streams of consciousness.

    functionalism: a school of psychology that focused on how mental and behavioral processes function; how they enable the organism to adapt, survive, and flourish

    James admitted Mary Calkins into his graduate seminar in 1890. Due to the lack of women's rights at that point, all other students dropped the class, and James exclusively tought Calkins. Unfortunately Harvard denied her a Ph.D. even though she outscored all of the male students on the qualifying exams.

    James' influence reached even further through his dozens of well-received articles. Henry Holt offered a contract for a textbook of the new science. It took James much longer than anticipated to complete, but in the end it proved very successful. Even today, people still read Principles of Psychology.

1.1.3 Psychological Science Develops

Date: 2020-03-04 Wed

Author: Soren

Created: 2020-03-04 Wed 17:42