History of Psychology
History of Psychology
The development of psychology as a science has not been a linear development. As philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn has pointed out, most sciences have not developed in this way ? they instead have shown periods of stability, periods of conflict and inconsistencies in an established paradigm, and sometimes abrupt changes in that paradigm (?paradigm shift?). Your task is to describe psychology?s trajectory from the perspective of one or more central problems or unanswered questions in psychology?s history. Some examples we have discussed so far include (but are not limited to): solipsism, the mind-body problem, empiricism vs. nativism (?nature? vs. ?nurture?), and the proper subject matter of scientific psychology (e.g. higher mental processes such as memory and thinking, vs. more basic processes such as conditioned reflexes, sensory transduction, or perception). You may also discuss any broader historical or cultural factors that may have been important in shaping how psychologists approached your topic problem (e.g. if you choose to focus on the question of psychology?s proper subject matter, you might discuss how the industrial age in the US may have motivated American psychologists to focus on behavioristics and applied psychology).
In more detail, your paper should include:
A) An introduction. Here you should state and define the central problem or problems that your paper will discuss (e.g. nature/nurture debate, mind-body problem, etc). Provide a brief summary of the different ways in which the question or problem has been approached in different eras (e.g. Plato?s position on the mind-body problem was X, in the enlightenment, empiricists took position Y, this was echoed by behaviorists who said Z, ..etc). You should include some motivation for your topic: why is the question or problem important? Is it still an issue today, and if so in what ways? Finally, you should provide a brief overview of the rest of the paper, to preview and summarize it (i.e. tell me ?what you?re going to tell me?).
B) Main body of your paper. The most intuitive way to structure this part would be to progress chronologically (though this is not necessary). However you approach it, the main body should be clearly structured and organized, with bolded and/or underlined headings and subheadings denoting distinct sections (these may correspond to historical eras, philosophical or scientific approaches, specific thinkers or scientists, etc.). The main body of your paper should provide a detailed discussion of your chosen problem or question from the standpoint of several different eras, thinkers, philosophies, and scientific approaches (?systems?). (I.e. this is where you ?tell me.?) BE SPECIFIC, including relevant details, examples, dates, names, and places. BE CRITICAL: if you find a given position unsatisfactory, point this out and explain why this is so (e.g. ?Piaget?s experimental approach fails to answer the nature/nurture question because…?). Remember, however, that your writing should still remain objective ? avoid using pronouns such as ?I? or ?we.? And don?t forget to MAKE CONNECTIONS: relate concepts/ideas/questions in a given section to concepts/ideas/questions etc
from other sections, or other areas within a section. Use this technique to
synthesize your paper, e.g. by providing points of comparison and/or contrast. C) Conclusion/Summary. This is where you tell me ?what you told me.? You should summarize the main body of your paper, note any conclusions or resolutions you
have reached, and if possible indicate a projection for the future (e.g. recent advances in neuroscience may allow us to more clearly measure mental processes, making higher cognition an appropriate subject for psychology).