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Why did scientific psychology expand as rapidly in the USA in the 20th century ?

While europe was crippled by 2 wars, USA became an economic superpower, investing in all types of sciences

--> resulted in establishment of many laboratories
--> foundation of APA
--> initiation of important journals


What led to functionalism ?

Psychology changed to address concerns prevalent in american society

ex.: adaptation to the environment (eugenics), practical usefulness



Refers to a social philosophy claiming that the fate of a nation can be improved by selective breeding of its inhabitants

--> started with Galton


Positive Eugenics

Sought to improve society by encouraging people with desirable features to have more children

--> Galton


Negative Eugenics

Sought to improve society by preventing people with undesirable features from having more children/ entering the country


(Gall + Spurzheim)

View that an individuals personality could be deduced from his/her physical appearance, in particular from the head + face

--> different function are controlled by different parts of the brain
--> bigger parts are better developed



Refers to the act of putting someone into a mental state like sleep, in which a person's thoughts can be easily influenced by someone else



View that the spirits of the dead could be contacted by mediums


Why was the impact of the "new psychology", meaning psychology as a science, limited ?

The topics they talked about failed to capture the publics imagination to the same degree as phrenology, mesmerism + spiritualism

--> rather associated psychology with these three subjects


What led to an increased interest in animal behaviour, especially the similarities between human + animal behaviour ?

The evolutionary theory, meaning the writings of spencer + Darwin


Anthropomorphic interpretation

Interpreting behavior on animals by attributing human motives + human-like intelligence to them

--> assumed animals have same reasoning processes as humans
--> how animal behavior was studied initially


In which way did Thorndikes approach differ from the Anthropomorphic interpretation ?

1. Observed in a controlled environment

2. Based his conclusions on animals behaviour, objectively
--> Law of effect


Law of effect

States that behaviours followed by positive consequences are strengthened + more likely to be repeated


Instrumental conditioning

Refers to learning on the basis of the law effect

--> called operant conditioning by Skinner


Thorndikes puzzle box

1. Put hungry animals in a puzzle box

2. Placed food outside of the box

3. Animal could reach the food if it managed to solve the puzzle + open the door

ex.: pulling lever

--> time decreased, because animal will repeat behaviors that had been successful


Edward Thorndike

Was an american physiologist, seen as the father of comparative + educational psychology

--> introduced instrumental conditioning


Comparative Psychology

Refers to the study of animals behaviour, to she light on human functioning

--> within the framework of the evolutionary theory


What did eventually bring research on animal behaviour into the realm of the natural sciences ?

Pavlovs + Thorndikes/Skinners theories on conditioning



Argues that observable behaviors are the most important aspect of human functioning to be understood


What initiated Behaviorism ?

The launch of the article "Behaviorist manifesto" by Watson as editor of "psychological review"

--> beginning of Behaviourism


What did the "Behaviorist manifesto" article state ?
Which were its main suggestions to improve Psychology ?

1. Psychology has to be a purely objective experimental branch of natural science

2. It has to be based on prediction + control of behavior

3. No room for introspection + everything that refers to consciousness

--> comparative


John B Watson

Was an american physiologist + behaviorist

--> conducted the conditioning experiment on "Little Albert"


Philosophy of science

Studies the foundations of scientific research, so that other knowledge areas could adopt this method as well


Which are the 3 ideas behaviorists adopted from the philosophy of science to make Psychology more scientific + objective ?


2. Distinction between DEPENDENT + INDEPENDENT variables
--> S-R variables

3. Necessity of VERIFICATION


Operational definition

Refers to the definition of a variable in terms of how the variable has been measured

ex.: weight expressed in kg



Statements are only useful if they could be verified by empirical observation

--> evidence has to be presented in such a way that it can be verified by others


When Watsons scientific career ended after being thrown out of Johns Hopkins University, who were the 3 behaviourists to continue his legacy ?

1. Hull
--> mathematical equations to explain phenomena

2. Skinner
--> Radical behaviorism

3. Tolman
--> Purposive behaviorism


Radical Behaviorism

Is a strong version of behaviorism that

1. Denies the relevance of information processing in the mind

2. Holds that all human behavior can be understood on the basis of S-R associations

3. Humans have little to no control over their actions as they merely respond to events in their environment, without taking initiative


Purposive behaviorism
(Tolman + Blodgett)

Form of behaviorism that states that animal + human behavior is motivated by goals

--> goals can be studied objectively

ex.: only when the rats were provided with a goal did they make use of their knowledge


With which methods did Thorndike replace Anthropomorphism ?

1. Mechanomorphism

2. Theriomorphism