Discovering Psychology: Updated Edition
History of Psychology: Timeline
First psychology laboratory
Wilhelm Wundt opens first experimental laboratory in psychology at the University of Leipzig, Germany. Credited with establishing psychology as an academic discipline, Wundt’s students include Emil Kraepelin, James McKeen Cattell, and G. Stanley Hall.
First American psychology laboratory
G. Stanley Hall, a student of Wilhelm Wundt, establishes first U.S. experimental psychology laboratory at Johns Hopkins University.
First doctorate in psychology
The first doctorate in psychology is given to Joseph Jastrow, a student of G. Stanley Hall at Johns Hopkins University. Jastrow later becomes professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin and serves as president of the American Psychological Association in 1900.
First professor of psychology
The academic title “professor of psychology” is given to James McKeen Cattell in 1888, the first use of this designation in the United States. A student of Wilhelm Wundt’s, Cattell serves as professor of psychology at University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University.
G. Stanley Hall founds the American Psychological Association (APA) and serves as its first president. He later establishes two key journals in the field: American Journal of Psychology (1887) and Journal of Applied Psychology (1917).
Functionalism, an early school of psychology, focuses on the acts and functions of the mind rather than its internal contents. Its most prominent American advocates are William James and John Dewey, whose 1896 article “The Reflex Arc Concept in Psychology” promotes functionalism.
The founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, introduces the term in a scholarly paper. Freud’s psychoanalytic approach asserts that people are motivated by powerful, unconscious drives and conflicts. He develops an influential therapy based on this assertion, using free association and dream analysis.
Edward B. Titchener, a leading proponent of structuralism, publishes his Outline of Psychology. Structuralism is the view that all mental experience can be understood as a combination of simple elements or events. This approach focuses on the contents of the mind, contrasting with functionalism.
First psychology clinic
After heading a laboratory at University of Pennsylvania, Lightner Witmer opens world’s first psychological clinic to patients, shifting his focus from experimental work to practical application of his findings.
Interpretation of Dreams
Sigmund Freud introduces his theory of psychoanalysis in The Interpretation of Dreams, the first of 24 books he would write exploring such topics as the unconscious, techniques of free association, and sexuality as a driving force in human psychology.
Manual of Experimental Psychology
With publication of the Manual of Experimental Psychology, Edward Bradford Titchener introduces structuralism to the United States. Structuralism, an approach which seeks to identify the basic elements of consciousness, fades after Titchener’s death in 1927.
First woman president of the APA
Mary Calkins is elected president of the APA. Calkins, a professor and researcher at Wellesley College, studied with William James at Harvard University, but Harvard denied her a Ph.D. because of her gender.
IQ tests developed
Using standardized tests, Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon develop a scale of general intelligence on the basis of mental age. Later researchers refine this work into the concept of intelligence quotient; IQ, mental age over physical age. From their beginning, such tests’ accuracy and fairness are challenged.
A Mind That Found Itself
Clifford Beers publishes A Mind That Found Itself, detailing his experiences as a patient in 19th-century mental asylums. Calling for more humane treatment of patients and better education about mental illness for the general population, the book inspires the mental hygiene movement in the United States.
Psychoanalysts visit Clark University
Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung visit the United States for a Psychoanalysis Symposium at Clark University organized by G. Stanley Hall. At the symposium, Freud gives his only speech in the United States.
John B. Watson publishes “Psychology as Behavior,” launching behaviorism. In contrast to psychoanalysis, behaviorism focuses on observable and measurable behavior.
Army intelligence tests implemented
Standardized intelligence and aptitude tests are administered to two million U. S. soldiers during WWI. Soon after, such tests are used in all U.S. armed forces branches and in many areas of civilian life, including academic and work settings.
First African American doctorate in psychology
Francis Cecil Sumner earns a Ph.D. in psychology under G. Stanley Hall at Clark University. Sumner later serves as chair of the Howard University psychology department.
The Child’s Conception of the World
Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget publishes The Child’s Conception of the World, prompting the study of cognition in the developing child.
Rorschach test created
Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach devises a personality test based on patients’ interpretations of inkblots.
Menninger Clinic founded
Charles Frederick Menninger and his sons Karl Augustus and William Clair found The Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. They take a compassionate approach to the treatment of mental illness, emphasizing both psychological and psychiatric disciplines.
Menninger Clinic founded
First Nobel Prize for psychological research
Psychiatrist Hans Berger invents the electroencephalogram and tests it on his son. The device graphs the electrical activity of the brain by means of electrodes attached to the head.
Nazi persecution of psychologists
After the Nazi party gains control of the government in Germany, scholars and researchers in psychology and psychiatry are persecuted. Many, including Freud, whose books are banned and burned in public rallies, move to Britain or the United States.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is founded by Bob Smith of Akron, Ohio. AA’s group meetings format and 12-step program become the model for many other mutual-support therapeutic groups.
Kurt Koffka, a founder of the movement, publishes Principles of Gestalt Psychology in 1935. Gestalt (German for “whole” or “essence”) psychology asserts that psychological phenomena must be viewed not as individual elements but as a coherent whole.
First lobotomy in the United States
Walter Freeman performs first frontal lobotomy in the United States at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. By 1951, more than 18,000 such operations have been performed. The procedure, intended to relieve severe and debilitating psychosis, is controversial.
The Neurotic Personality of Our Time
Psychologist Karen Horney publishes The Neurotic Personality of Our Time. Horney goes on to challenge many of Freud’s theories, as have many later psychologists and scholars. Specifically, she questions Freud’s theories on the Oedipal Complex and castration anxiety.
The Behavior of Organisms
B.F. Skinner publishes The Behavior of Organisms, introducing the concept of operant conditioning. The work draws widespread attention to behaviorism and inspires laboratory research on conditioning.
Electroconvulsive therapy began
Italian psychiatrist and neuropathologist Ugo Cerletti and his associates treat human patients with electrical shocks to alleviate schizophrenia and psychosis. ECT, while controversial, is proven effective in some cases and is still in use in 2001.
The Psychoanalytic Treatment of Children
Anna Freud publishes The Psychoanalytic Treatment of Children, introducing basic concepts in the theory and practice of child psychoanalysis.
National Mental Health Act Passed
U.S. President Harry Truman signs the National Mental Health Act, providing generous funding for psychiatric education and research for the first time in U.S. history. This act leads to the creation in 1949 of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
First drug to treat depression
Studies are published reporting that the drug imipramine may be able to lessen depression. Eight years later, the FDA approves its use in the United States under the name Tofranil.
The anti-psychotic drug chlorpromazine (known as Thorazine) is tested on a patient in a Paris military hospital. Approved for use in the United States in 1954, it becomes widely prescribed.
APA Ethical Standards
The American Psychological Association publishes the first edition of Ethical Standards of Psychologists. The document undergoes continuous review and is now known as APA’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct.
Epilepsy and the Functional Anatomy…
In Epilepsy and the Functional Anatomy of the Human Brain, neurosurgeon Wilder G. Penfield publishes results from his study of the neurology of epilepsy. His mapping of the brain’s cortex sets a precedent for the brain-imaging techniques that become critical to biopsychology and cognitive neuroscience.
The Nature of Prejudice
Social Psychologist Gordon Allport publishes The Nature of Prejudice, which draws on various approaches in psychology to examine prejudice through different lenses. It is widely read by the general public and influential in establishing psychology’s usefulness in understanding social issues.
In his studies of epilepsy, neuroscientist Wilder G. Penfield begins to uncover the relationship between chemical activity in the brain and psychological phenomena. His findings set the stage for widespread research on the biological role in psychological phenomena.
The development of psychoactive drugs in the 1950s and their approval by the FDA initiates a new form of treatment for mental illness. Among the first such drugs is Doriden, also known as Rorer, an anti-anxiety medication approved in 1954.
In the wake of psychoanalysis and behaviorism, humanistic psychology emerges as the “third force” in psychology. Led by Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, who publishes Motivation and Personality in 1954, this approach centers on the conscious mind, free will, human dignity, and the capacity for self-actualization.
Inspired by work in mathematics and other disciplines, psychologists begin to focus on cognitive states and processes. George A. Miller’s 1956 article “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two” on information processing is an early application of the cognitive approach.
Noam Chomsky publishes Syntactic Structures, marking a major advancement in the study of linguistics. The book helps spawn the field of psycholinguistics, the psychology of language.
FDA approves Librium
The FDA approves the use of chlordiazepoxide (known as Librium) for treatment of non-psychotic anxiety in 1960. A similar drug, diazepam (Valium), is approved in 1963.
Community Mental Health Centers Act passed
U.S. President John F. Kennedy calls for and later signs the Community Mental Health Centers Act, which mandates the construction of community facilities instead of large, regional mental hospitals. Congress ends support for the program in 1981, reducing overall funds and folding them into a mental health block-grant program.
First National Medal of Science to psychologist
Neal E. Miller receives the National Medal of Science, the highest scientific honor given in the United States, for his studies of motivation and learning. He is the first psychologist to be awarded this honor.
FDA approves Lithium
The FDA approves lithium carbonate to treat patients with bipolar mood disorders. It is marketed under the trade names Eskalith, Lithonate, and Lithane.
Homosexuality removed from DSM
After intense debate, the American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The widely used reference manual is revised to state that sexual orientation “does not necessarily constitute a psychiatric disorder.”
PET scanner tested
A new brain scanning technique, Positron Emission Tomography (PET), is tested. By tracing chemical markers, PET maps brain function in more detail than earlier techniques.
Richard Dawkins publishes The Selfish Gene, which begins to popularize the idea of evolutionary psychology. This approach applies principles from evolutionary biology to the structure and function of the human brain. It offers new ways of looking at social phenomena such as aggression and sexual behavior.
The Selfish Gene
Richard Dawkins publishes The Selfish Gene, a work which shifts focus from the individual animal as the unit of evolution to individual genes themselves. The text popularizes the field of evolutionary psychology, in which knowledge and principles from evolutionary biology are applied in research on human brain structure.
Standardized IQ tests found discriminatory
The U.S. District Court finds the use of standardized IQ tests in California public schools illegal. The decision in the case, Larry P. v. Wilson Riles, upholds the plaintiff’s position that the tests discriminate against African American students.
AIDS and HIV first diagnosed
The epidemic of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection presents mental health professionals with challenges ranging from at-risk patients’ anxiety and depression to AIDS-related dementia.
Insanity Defense Reform Act passed
U.S. Congress revises federal law on the insanity defense, partly in response to the acquittal of John Hinckley, Jr. of charges of attempted assassination after he had shot President Ronald Reagan. The act places burden of proof for the insanity defense on the defendant.
Homeless Assistance Act passed
The Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act provides the first federal funds allocated specifically for the homeless population. The act includes provisions for mental health services, and responds, in part, to psychological studies on homelessness and mental disorders.
Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft made available
The FDA approves the new anti-depressant medication fluoxetine, (Prozac). The drug, and other similar medications, acts on neurotransmitters, specifically, serotonin. It is widely prescribed and attracts attention and debate.
In Acts of Meaning, Four Lectures on Mind and Culture, Jerome Bruner helps formulate cultural psychology, an approach drawing on philosophy, linguistics, and anthropology. Refined and expanded by Hazel Markus and other researchers, cultural psychology focuses on the influences and relationship among mind, cultural community and behavior.
Sequencing of the Human Genome
Sixteen public research institutions around the world complete a “working draft” mapping of the human genetic code, providing a research basis for a new understanding of human development and disease. A similar, privately funded, project is currently underway.
0.1 History of Psychology: Timeline
Explore historic moments in the development of modern psychology.
0.2 Research Methods
In this activity you will explore how psychologists draw solid conclusions from the complex and often ambiguous phenomena they study -- how you think, feel, and behave.
0.3 The Human Brain
In this activity you will explore the human brain, the key element of the nervous system. You will learn about its main areas and their functions in regulating everyday life. Understanding the brain's role in all manner of human activity is a central topic in psychology.
0.4 Life Span Development
In this activity you will explore development across the life span. The process begins during the period between conception and birth, as the fetus emerges from a one-celled organism to a full-term infant. As the genetic program within the cells of the body unfolds, important characteristics emerge that will set the stage for the newborn baby's emergence into the world. At the same time, the world around the developing child exerts its influence on growth, and, at critical points, can alter the way these genetic characteristics are expressed. Our exploration begins where this process culminates, at birth, where who we are and will ultimately become is a life-long endeavor.
0.5 Approaches in Practice
In this activity you will explore the contemporary approaches used to understand, treat, and prevent psychological disorders. Although psychologists may blend concepts from more than one approach, each approach represents a distinct view of the central issues in psychology.
Unit 1 Past, Present, and Promise
Past, Present, and Promise is the first program in the Discovering Psychology series. It provides an introduction to and overview of psychology, from its origins in the nineteenth century to current study of the brain's biochemistry. You'll explore the development of psychology in general and some of the paths scientists take to determine relationships among the mind, the brain, and behavior.
Unit 2 Understanding Research
Understanding Research is the second program in the Discovering Psychology series. This program examines how we know what we know. You'll explore the scientific method, the distinction between fact and theory, and the different ways in which data are collected and applied, both in labs and in real-world settings.
Unit 3 The Behaving Brain
The Behaving Brain is the third program in the Discovering Psychology series. This program looks at the structure and composition of the human brain: how neurons function, how information is collected and transmitted, and how chemical reactions relate to thought and behavior.
Unit 4 The Responsive Brain
The Responsive Brain is the fourth program in the Discovering Psychology series. This program explores how the brain alters its structure and functioning in response to social situations. You'll learn about the impact of different stimuli on human and animal brains, from the effect of human touch on premature babies to the effect of social status on the health of baboons.
Unit 5 The Developing Child
The Developing Child is the fifth program in the Discovering Psychology series. This program introduces examples of cognitive, perceptual, and behavioral development in children. You'll explore the roles of heredity and environment in child development, and children's incremental understanding of such phenomena as object permanence, symbolic reasoning, and perception of visual depth.
Unit 6 Language Development
Language Development is the sixth program in the Discovering Psychology series. This program outlines the development of language in children. It highlights linguist Noam Chomsky's theories about the human brain's predisposition to understand language, and then profiles three scientists working on aspects of psycholinguistics.
Unit 7 Sensation and Perception
Sensation and Perception is the seventh program in the Discovering Psychology series. This program unravels the complex process of how we see. You'll learn about visual illusions and what causes them, the biology of perception, the visual pathway, and how the human brain processes information during perception.
Unit 8 Learning
Learning is the eighth program in the Discovering Psychology series. This program discusses the basic principles of how we learn; classical, instrumental, and operant conditioning; and the role that stimuli and consequences play in learned behavior and habits. You'll explore how renowned researchers Ivan Pavlov, B. F. Skinner, Edward Thorndike, and John B. Watson contributed to what we know about human and animal learning.
Unit 9 Remembering and Forgetting
Remembering and Forgetting is the ninth program in the Discovering Psychology series. This program looks at the complexity of memory: how images, ideas, language, physical actions, even sounds and smells are translated into codes that are represented in the memory and retrieved as needed.
Unit 10 Cognitive Processes
Cognitive Processes is the tenth program in the Discovering Psychology series. This program explores the evolution of cognitive psychology and how we take in information. Cognitive psychology spans a vast range of study, from the parts of the brain used in reading to the computer's impact on the study of how humans think.
Unit 11 Judgment and Decision Making
Judgment and Decision Making is the eleventh program in the Discovering Psychology series. This program looks at the process of making decisions and judgments, how and why people make different choices, the factors that influence decisions, and the psychology of risk-taking.
Unit 12 Motivation and Emotion
Motivation and Emotion is the twelfth program in the Discovering Psychology series. Based on the early research of Sigmund Freud and Abraham Maslow, this program explores the sources of motivation, causes of behavior, and interplay between motivation and action. It examines societal and individual motivation, sexual motivation, and cumulative effects of optimism and pessimism in human life.
Unit 13 The Mind Awake and Asleep
The Mind Awake and Asleep is the thirteenth program in the Discovering Psychology series. Drawing on the theories of early modern psychologists Wilhelm Wundt and William James, this program looks at conscious and unconscious awareness, how the mind functions awake and asleep, and the biological rhythms of activity, rest, and dreaming.
Unit 14 The Mind Hidden and Divided
The Mind Hidden and Divided is the fourteenth program in the Discovering Psychology series. Based on the pioneering research of Sigmund Freud, this program explores how the events and experiences that take place in the subconscious manifest themselves in our conscious lives. You'll learn about repression, the distinction between discovered and false memory syndrome, hypnosis, and split-brain cases.
Unit 15 The Self
The Self is the fifteenth program in the Discovering Psychology series. In this program, you'll explore how psychologists study the origins of self-identity, self-esteem, and the social determinants of self-concepts. You'll also learn about some of the emotional and motivational consequences of self-esteem.
Unit 16 Testing and Intelligence
Testing and Intelligence is the sixteenth program in the Discovering Psychology series. This program explores the history of intelligence tests, based on the work of Alfred Binet. You'll also explore the field of psychological assessment, potential biases in testing, and the influence of cultural beliefs and stereotypes on test performance.
Unit 17 Sex and Gender
Sex and Gender is the seventeenth program in the Discovering Psychology series. This program explores the distinction between sex and gender, and the ways gender stereotypes channel behavior in animals as well as in humans. It also examines some of the psychological effects of societal gender roles, from birth to adulthood.
Unit 18 Maturing and Aging
Maturing and Aging is the eighteenth program in the Discovering Psychology series. This program looks at the human life cycle in spans of 20-25 years, and what happens physically and mentally as we age. Popular misconceptions about the elderly are examined, often in contrast to the reality of growing old. Researchers, who are developing mental exercises to improve mental efficiency, explain senile dementia and other effects of aging.
Unit 19 The Power of the Situation
The Power of the Situation is the nineteenth program in the Discovering Psychology series. This program explores psychologists' attempts to understand human behavior within its broader social context. It also examines how beliefs and behavior can be influenced and manipulated by other people and subtle situational forces.
Unit 20 Constructing Social Reality
Constructing Social Reality is the twentieth program in the Discovering Psychology series. This program looks at the process and elements of interpreting reality. You'll explore the power of cognitive control, the Pygmalion effect, the development of prejudice, and how expectations affect behaviors like performance and compliance.
Unit 21 Psychopathology
Psychopathology is the twenty-first program in the Discovering Psychology series. Through glimpses of the original theories of Philippe Pinel, this program explores the biological and psychological components of mental illness, as well as the role of genetics and cultural factors. It also takes a closer look at a few of the major mental illnesses like depression, neurosis, manic-depressive disorders, and schizophrenia.
Unit 22 Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy is the twenty-second program in the Discovering Psychology series. It explores different therapeutic approaches as well as the relationships among theory, research, and practice. You'll learn how some historical, cultural, and social forces have influenced approaches to the treatment of psychological disorders.
Unit 23 Health, Mind, and Behavior
Health, Mind, and Behavior is the twenty-third program in the Discovering Psychology series. This program examines the relationship between mind and body, and some of the ways psychological factors affect our physical health and immune system. It also explores some of the sources and consequences of stress.
Unit 24 Applying Psychology in Life
Applying Psychology in Life is the twenty-fourth program in the Discovering Psychology series. This program examines innovative ways psychology is being applied to practical situations and professions. You'll explore various areas of applied research: the effects of sleep deprivation on ability and performance, ergonomics and human factors in space travel, the law and reliability of courtroom testimony, and interpersonal conflict resolution.
Unit 25 Cognitive Neuroscience
Cognitive Neuroscience is the twenty-fifth program in the Discovering Psychology series. This program looks at scientists' attempts to understand how the brain functions in a variety of mental processes. It also examines empirical analysis of brain functioning when a person thinks, reasons, sees, encodes information, and solves problems. Several brain-imaging tools reveal how we measure the brain's response to different stimuli.
Unit 26 Cultural Psychology
Cultural Psychology is the twenty-sixth, and final, program in the Discovering Psychology series. This program explores how cultural psychology integrates cross-cultural research with social psychology, anthropology, and other social sciences. It also examines how cultures contribute to self-identity, the central aspects of cultural values, and emerging issues regarding diversity.