Psychology 622

PSYC 622: Historical Foundations of a Scientific Psychology

Prerequisites: Graduate standing in psychology or permission of the instructor

Credit Hours: (3)

Discussion of the role of psychologists as scientists, from the inception of the field to the present. Issues to be discussed include the advantages and disadvantages of the scientific method as a mode of inquiry, the concept of scientific progress, and the status of psychology as a science. The course will trace the historical development of the various schools of psychology and describe the factors that have led to psychology’s current position as both a basic and an applied science.

Detailed Description of Content Course

I. History and Philosophy of Science
        a. Rationalism and Empiricism
1. Plato and Aristotle
        2. Descartes and British Empiricism
        b. Descriptions of the “Scientific Method” and Scientific Progress
            1. Logical Positivism
            2. Kuhn and Normal Science
II. Historical Foundations of Psychology
        a. Philosophical and Physiological Roots
        b. Structuralism
        c. William James
        d. Functionalism
        e. Behaviorism
        f. Gestalt Psychology
        g. The Cognitive Revolution
        h. Is Neuroscience the Heir of Cognitivism?
        i. Historical Development of the Applied Branches of Psychology
III. Psychology and Science
        a. Is Psychology a Science?
                1. The Physical Sciences and Psychology Compared
                2. The Status of Psychological Theory
        b. Is Psychology a Unified Field of Study?
        c. Current Issues in the Relationship between Psychology and Science
                1. Quantitative and Qualitative Methods
                2. Psychology as a Hard or Soft Science

Detailed Description of Conduct of the Course

Students will read original source materials in the philosophy of science and the history of psychology. In class discussions, students will evaluate critically the findings and interpretations of the authors. Students will present articles to the rest of the class and serve as moderators of discussions regarding these articles. Lectures will incorporate and supplement the assigned readings.

Goals and Objectives of the Course

The goal of the course is to acquire a background in (a) the assumptions, advantages, and limitations of the scientific method as the primary tool for information gathering in psychology and (b) the history of Psychology as an empirical discipline.

Assessment Measures

Graded assignments may include in-class tests, a final examination, a semester-long paper assignment, and class preparation and participation.

Other Course Information

Primary reading material will consist of original articles in the philosophy of science and psychological literatures.

Review and Approval

March 1999

December 2007