History of Psychology



     First of all, this is a fun course.  No......, really.  But since it is upper division, it relies heavily on previous knowledge gained through exposure to introductory psychology as well as the prerequisite 6 additional upper division units in psychology.  The assumption here is that very few (virtually none) of the general topics we discuss will be completely new.  This enables us to dive quite a bit deeper into the subject matter and explore connections between the individual areas of psychology without spending too much time rehashing old lectures.  During the semester, this course attempts to (1) review the historical development of psychology as science; (2) survey the contributions of individuals that were integral in determining the "new" directions the science would take; (3) develop a view of psychology as an integrated whole by tracing it's origins; and (4) develop a respect and appreciation for how modern issues in psychology have been shaped by thousands of years of history and philosophy.  Along the way, there are opportunities to refine basic skills such as creative and technical writing (term paper) and develop new skills such as topic organization and presentation to others (teaching!).

There are 3 basic techniques for teaching History of Psychology.  The first is "The Great School" approach that leads us through our philosophical beginnings to modern day practice by grouping individuals into "schools of thought" united by common themes, research problems, and/or philosophical ideas.  The second approach is called "The Great Figure" approach.  The Great Figure approach recognizes that the history of psychology (or of any great science) is made up of thousands of individuals, some of which have made substantial contributions along the way.  These contributions, usually in hindsight, were clearly responsible for guiding psychology along its journey.  And the third is "The Great Ideas" approach that looks at psychology as a series of discoveries and attempts to answer some fundamental questions.  There are a number of advantages of each, but it is difficult to use all three methods successfully (especially in a one semester class).  The authors of my preferred textbook use the last 2 approaches.  During lecture and for writing assignments, I emphasize the first 2 approaches.  Using this strategy, the textbook, lectures, and class assignments combine to provide a good, solid overview of the origins of the science we call psychology.