Fall, 2005

Today in the history of psychology (pick a date!)

Professor: Joan Ostrove

Phone: 696-6464

Office: Olin-Rice 325



Office hours: Wednesdays, 1-3 p.m., or by appointment

Class description and overview:

This course explores major developments and ideas in the history of psychology as an academic discipline. We will address such topics as: the history of ideas about "the mind;" key historical and social events that shaped the field; when and how psychology became a science; life histories of psychologists; and how ideas about what is "normal" shape and are shaped by psychology.

Although psychology really only became an independent discipline about 100 years ago, its history goes back much further than that. Also, it is a big field so a lot has happened in the past 100 years! All this is to say that there is much more to this topic than we can possibly cover in one semester. I’ve developed what I anticipate is going to be a really fun course that will touch upon a number of topics and modes of critical/historical analysis that I hope will be applicable to many areas of the field that we won’t cover here. Also, I’ve kept the focus primarily on the development of psychology in the United States. While I think this class will help us understand the broad contexts in which psychology emerged and develops, and will allow us to look some at what has been left out of the dominant story of the history of psychology, I can assure you that there are many more stories – both commonly known and generally untold – than we will learn about this semester…

Requirements and expectations:

  • Participation – It is one of your primary responsibilities to come to class prepared, having read and thought about the readings for the day/week (of which there are often a lot!). Participation may mean a lot of different things – sharing your ideas and thoughts; listening well to others’ ideas; asking questions; connecting the course material to issues in your life or the lives of other people you know, and/or to issues on campus and in the world, etc. Occasionally there may be an ungraded, very short written assignment that will count toward participation.
  • Three short papers – You will write three short (3-5 page) essays during the semester. The exact assignments will be available later in the semester.
  • Group project/Class presentation – During the second half of the semester, you will work either individually or in pairs to develop a presentation about introductory psychology textbooks during a particular decade in the 20th century. You will pick your decade and start working on this project during the first few weeks of the semester. You will receive an intro textbook to review and will develop a presentation that includes information about the key historical events that were happening around the time this textbook was being used, the popular culture of the time, and an analysis of the themes, structure, and perspective(s) that are used by the author(s) of the textbook. Your presentation may include audio/visual materials, written materials, or any other mode of communication that you think will be useful and effective. Grades will be given to each member of the pair based on the work in the final presentation (adequacy of covering each part of the assignment, clarity of information presented, quality of presentation). Each person must write a description of the work she or he did in preparation for the presentation, and must be an active participant (remember this could mean a lot of different things!) in the final presentation. We will discuss all of this in more detail later in the semester.
  • Final project – Your final project will be an in-depth historical analysis of an individual psychologist or a history of a specific subdiscipline of psychology (e.g., the history of developmental psychology; how technology shaped the history of cognitive psychology, etc.).  The assignment will be explained in further detail later in the semester, should be about 8-10 pages, and will be due on Monday, December 19th.
  • OPTIONAL extra credit assignment – Professor Jack Rossmann has been working on a history of the psychology department here at Macalester.  He will visit our class on October 5th to tell us about his work.  If you’re interested in contributing to this project, Professor Rossmann has some ideas for sub-projects that you can do and for which you will receive up to 8 extra credit points (depending on the quality of your work).   More about this later in the semester!
  • Each assignment will count toward your final grade as follows:





            Short paper 1


            Short paper 2


            Short paper 3


Group project/presentation


            Final project


Course policies:

  • Academic integrity: I expect each of you to follow the college’s guidelines regarding academic integrity, outlined in the Student Handbook. Please talk to me if you are not clear how these guidelines apply to the course. I will report any suspicion of academic dishonesty to the Dean of Academic Programs. Academic dishonesty will result in at least a failing grade on the assignment, and a second instance of dishonesty will usually result in a failing grade in the course.
  • Late work: You may not receive extensions on work in the class, except in the most extraordinary circumstances (in which you will need documentation from the Dean’s Office or Health Services). Work that is turned in late for any other reason will have a third of a grade taken off for each day that it is late (e.g., a B+ would become a B if you hand in work any time after the exact time that it is due – the "day late" begins immediately after the time the assignment is due).
  • Incompletes: I will only grant incompletes under extraordinary circumstances that occur in the second part of the semester. This will not include being really busy at the end of the semester.
  • Written assignments: Please type, double-spaced with 12-point font, all of your written assignments for this course. Please do not use margins that are larger than 1 inch – all around. Don’t use smaller margins, or smaller font, either – length is not necessarily strength!
  • Grades: Grading guidelines for written assignments are explained on the last page of the syllabus.
  • Accommodations for students with disabilities: I will provide any reasonable accommodation for students with disabilities that will make this course accessible and will provide an optimal educational experience for everyone. I will expect to receive documentation from the office for students with disabilities about the kinds of accommodations that you require. Please speak to me at the beginning of the semester so that we can make an effective plan.


Demorest, A. (2005).  Psychology’s grand theorists:  How personal experiences shaped professional ideas.  Mahwah, NJ:  Lawrence Earlbaum Associates.

Wertheimer, M. (2000).  A brief history of psychology (4th Edition).  Belmont, CA:  Wadsworth. 

(Books are available at the campus bookstore)

Almost all of the other readings are available either in the psychology department or on the web. You should be able to access all of the readings on the web EITHER by going to the course link on my website and clicking on the link via any campus networked computer OR by going to the course on  Most of the links will take you directly to the reading.  Sometimes (when only the journal title is a link) the link will get you to the journal finder, because the article is available full-text online via Macalester’s library site.

Topics / Class schedule:

Wed, Sept 7 – Introduction to the course and each other

Why study history?  Contextualizing the history of psychology

Fri, Sept 9

Goodwin, C. J. (1999).  Chapter 1 of A history of modern psychology (pp. 1-23), Hoboken, NJ:  Wiley.

Wertheimer, Chapter 1.

Bohan, J. (1992). The construction of knowledge, the construction of history. Introduction to section I of Re-placing women in psychology: Readings toward a more inclusive history (pp. 7-10). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.

            Mon, Sept 12

Scarborough, E., & Furumoto, L. (1987).  Introduction to Untold lives:  The first generation of American women psychologists (pp. 1-13).  NY: Columbia University Press.

Winston, A.S. (2004).  Introduction:  Histories of psychology and race.  In A.S. Winston (Ed.), Race, racism, and the history of psychology (pp. 3-18), Washington, D.C.:  American Psychological Association. [In addition to a useful conceptual overview, this chapter includes summaries of all of the other chapters in the book, only two of which we will be reading later in the semester.  In case your interest is sparked and you want to read more of them, we have this book in the library]

            Wed, Sept 14: 

Heidbreder, E. (1933/1961). Systems of psychology: Their function and significance. In E. Heidbreder, Seven psychologies (pp. 3-17). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Heidbreder, in the preface to Seven Psychologies, defines "systems" as "effective influences in the development of psychology" (p. vii). As "systems" is one of the big topics for the class, the chapter you’ll read for today gives an excellent overview of how to understand such "psychological systems" and provides some useful perspectives on how to understand these systems in context. Although her book was written quite a long time ago, much of her perspective on the meaning of thought and on how systems develop is quite relevant today. What strike you as the most timely, or outdated, ideas in her chapter?

Philosophical underpinnings from the ancients to the moderns

Fri, Sept 16:  What have people thought about the nature of the mind, the relationship of the mind to the body, what it means to be human? How have these ideas influenced what is now psychology?

            Wertheimer, Chapters 2-4

Primary source e-texts in the history of psychology

Pick ONE from among the first bunch of sources listed in this site (starting with Hammurabi’s Code, through the Torah, and Confucius, Hippocrates, Plato and Aristotle and "read around" your chosen text. Pick out some evidence for how these texts represent something about human nature, or some other concept that is of interest to psychologists. Write down at least 3 brief quotations to illustrate, and come to class prepared to share this with the rest of us (this will count toward your participation grade).

Mon, Sept 19:  Descartes and his influence


[click "continue" to get through all 6 of these mini-chapters]

1.René Descartes

2.The 17th Century: Reaction to the Dualism of Mind and Body

3.The 18th Century: Mind, Matter, and Monism

4.The 19th Century: Mind and Brain

5.Mind, Brain, and Adaptation: the Localization of Cerebral Function

6.Trance and Trauma: Functional Nervous Disorders and the Subconscious Mind

The transformation from philosophy to psychology…

Wed, Sept 21:  A perspective from the philosophy of science

DeWitt, R. (2004).  Chapters 1-4 from Worldviews:  An introduction to the history and philosophy of science (pp. 3-44).  Malden, MA:  Blackwell Publishing. 

Fri, Sept 23:  TBA

Mon, Sept 26:  The rise of experimental psychology

Gardner, H. (2001, March 9).  The philosophy-science continuum.  The Chronicle of Higher Education, vol 47, issue 26, p. B7-B10.

Wertheimer, Chapters 5-7

Heidelberger, M. (2004).  Introduction to Nature from within:  Gustav Theodor Fechner and his psychophysical worldview (pp. 1-15).  Pittsburgh:  University of Pittsburgh Press.

Although this introduction spends some time discussing what will be covered in each of the remaining chapters, I think those brief chapter summaries are a sufficient introduction to what Heidelberger is arguing in his extensive (the whole book is almost 450 pages!) biography of Fechner, which was translated from German by Cynthia Klohr.

Wed, Sept 28:   Psychology’s start in the United States – William James

            Wertheimer, Chapter 8

Fri, Sept 30:  William James, continued

James, W. (1892). The stream of consciousness, from Psychology, Chapter XI

The importance of quantification and measurement

Mon, Oct 3

Hornstein, G. A. (1988). Quantifying psychological phenomena: Debates, dilemmas, and implications. In J. G. Morawski (Ed.). The rise of experimentalism in American psychology (pp. 1-34). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

This chapter covers a wide variety of issues, all of which we will return to later in the semester. I’m assigning it now because the ability to measure, quantify, and assess was so critical to psychology’s transition to being a "science." Hornstein’s chapter provides an important critical analysis of a number of trends during the early 20th century that we have to examine on the heels of reading James and starting our foray into the history of psychology in the U. S. during the 20th century.

Benjamin, L. T., Jr. (2000). The psychology laboratory at the turn of the 20th century. American Psychologist, 55, 318-321.

Evans, R. B. (2000). Psychological instruments at the turn of the century. American Psychologist, 55, 322-325. 

Museum of the History of Psychological Instrumentation:  (click on this link to see pictures and perspectives on psychological instrumentation; pick anything of interest to you and come to class prepared to explain and discuss what you learned from the site; you may want to return to this site for the Oct 7th readings, as some of the instruments used by the people discussed in those readings are featured on this site)

Wed, Oct 5

Danziger, K. (1987). Social context and investigative practice in early twentieth-century psychology. In M. G. Ash & W. R. Woodward (Eds.). Psychology in twentieth-century thought and society (pp. 13-33). London: Cambridge University Press.

Although somewhat dense at times, this article provides a useful overview of how to understand the development of psychology as a discipline within particular contexts. What are the contexts Danziger suggests are important for the development of the field? How and why does he contrast the development of psychology in the U.S. and Germany? What were some similarities and differences?

The dominant systems in psychology

            Fri, Oct 7:  Structuralism, Functionalism, Behaviorism   

Wertheimer, Chapters 9-11

Calkins, M. W. (1906).  A reconciliation between structural and functional psychology.  Psychological Review, 13, 61-81

Mon, Oct 10:  Gestalt Psychology and Psychoanalysis

                        Wertheimer, Chapters 12-13


Historical and critical perspectives on the major systems of psychology…

Wed, Oct 12

Shields, S. (1992). Functionalism, Darwinism, and the psychology of women: A study in social myth. In Bohan, J. S. (Ed.). Seldom seen, rarely heard: Women’s  place in psychology (pp. 79-106). Boulder, CO: Westview Press [reprinted from the American Psychologist, 1975 (too early for full-text online!)]

Furumoto, L. (1988). Shared knowledge: The experimentalists, 1904-1929. In J. G. Morawski (Ed.). The rise of experimentalism in American psychology (pp. 94-113). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Fri, Oct 14

Kendler, H. H. (1985). Behaviorism and psychology: An uneasy alliance. In S. Koch & D. E. Leary (Eds.) A century of psychology as science (pp. 121-134). NY: McGraw-Hill.

Henle, M. (1978). One man against the Nazis: Wolfgang Kohler. American Psychologist, 33, 939-944.

Hornstein, G. A. (1992). The return of the repressed: Psychology’s problematic relations with psychoanalysis, 1909-1960. American Psychologist, 47, 254-263.

Analyzing introductory textbooks – The start of a project for the rest of the semester!

Mon, Oct 17

Morawski, J. (1992). There is more to our history of giving: The place of introductory textbooks in American psychology. American Psychologist, 47, 161-169.

Fuchs, A. H. (2000). Teaching the introductory course in psychology circa 1900. American Psychologist, 55, 492-495.

Winston, A.S., Butzer, B., & Ferris, M.D. (2004).  Constructing difference:  Heredity, intelligence, and race in textbooks, 1930-1970. In A.S. Winston (Ed.), Race, racism, and the history of psychology (pp. 199-229), Washington, D.C.:  American Psychological Association.


Wed, Oct 19:  Introductory psychology textbooks in the 1900s (an example from 1909)

            Fri, Oct 21:  Meet in pairs to start your intro psych textbook project!

The lives of some influential (and some less well-known) psychologists: Non-representative case examples…

Mon, Oct 24

Bringmann, W. G., Bringmann, M. W., & Early, C. E. (1992). G. Stanley Hall and the history of psychology. American Psychologist, 47, 281-289.

Guthrie, R. V. (1976). Francis Cecil Sumner – Father of black American psychologists. In R. V. Guthrie, Even the rat was white: A historical view of psychology (1st Edition) (pp. 175-189). NY: Harper & Row.

Scarborough, E., & Furumoto, L. (1987). The quest for graduate education: Mary Calkins’ contest with Harvard University. In Scarborough & Furumoto, Untold lives: The first generation of American women psychologists. NY: Columbia University Press.

Triplet, R. G. (1992). Henry A. Murray: The making of a psychologist? American Psychologist, 47, 299-307.

Some things to think about while reading the above articles:  Are there parallels in any of these life stories? What do you notice about the institutions these psychologists were affiliated with? What role did historical events play? Economics? Discrimination? What distinguishes the life stories from one another?

Wed, Oct 26 – Introductory psychology textbooks in the 1910s/1920s

Fri, Oct 28 – FALL BREAK

Studying the ideas and lives of influential psychologists

Mon, Oct 31:  Life histories and psychobiography

            Demorest, Chapter 1 (Introduction)

Runyan, W. M. (1982).  Chapter 10 (The Psychobiography Debate) of Life histories and psychobiography:  Explorations in theory and method (pp. 192-241).  NY:  Oxford University Press.

Wed, Nov 2:  Lives and ideas #1 – Sigmund Freud

            Demorest, Chapter 2

Erikson, E. H. (1975). A historic friendship:  Freud’s letters to Fliess (a review of Freud’s posthumous publications)  In E. H. Erikson, Life history and the historical moment (pp.  48-81), NY:  W.W. Norton.

Fri, Nov 4 – Introductory psychology textbooks in the 1930s/1940s

Mon, Nov 7:  Lives and ideas #2 – B. F. Skinner

            Demorest, Chapter 3

Wed, Nov 9:  Skinner, continued

            Watson, J. B. (1924/1930).  What is behaviorism?  In J. B. Watson, Behaviorism (pp. 1-19), NY:  W.W. Norton.

Skinner, B. F. (1978).  The experimental analysis of behavior (A history).  In B. F. Skinner, Reflections on behaviorism and society (pp. 113-126).  Englewood Cliffs, NJ:  Prentice-Hall.

            Excerpt from B.F. Skinner (1948/1976) Walden Two. Prentice-Hall

Skinner, B. F. (1978).  Walden (One) and Walden Two.  In B. F. Skinner, Reflections on behaviorism and society (pp. 188-194).  Englewood Cliffs, NJ:  Prentice-Hall.

Fri, Nov 11 – Introductory psychology textbooks in the 1950s

Mon, Nov 14:  Lives and ideas #3 – Carl Rogers

            Demorest, Chapters 4 and 5

Wed, Nov 16:  Rogers, continued

            Rogers, C. (1947).  Some observations on the organization of personality, American Psychologist, 2, 358-368.

Kirschenbaum, H. (2004).  Carl Rogers’ life and work:  An assessment on the 100th anniversary of his birth.  Journal of Counseling & Development., 82, 116-124. [available full-text online via Macalester library website]

Fri, Nov 18 Introductory psychology textbooks in the 1960s

World wars and their influence on psychology (and psychology’s influence on them?)

Mon, Nov 21

von Mayrhauser, R. T. (1992). The mental testing community and validity: A prehistory. American Psychologist, 47, 244-253.

Hoffman, L. E. (1992). American psychologists and wartime research on Germany, 1941-1945. American Psychologist, 47, 264-273.


            Wed, Nov 23

                        APA Monitor (November, 2000).  Remembering the Holocaust.

                        Allport, G. (1954).  Chapter 1 of The nature of prejudice.  Reading, MA:  Addison-Wesley.


Critical perspectives on the discipline, with a particular focus on measurement (and mismeasurement)

            Mon, Nov 28

            Wertheimer, Chapters 14 and 15

Strickland, B. R. (2000). Misassumptions, misadventures, and the misuse of psychology. American Psychologist, 55, 331-338.

Minton, H. L. (1988). Charting life history: Lewis M. Terman’s study of the gifted. In J. G. Morawski (Ed.). The rise of experimentalism in American psychology (pp. 138-162). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Wed, Nov 30

Archive of the Eugenics Movement in the U.S.

*Note that there are 9 “chapters” in this website; you will pick ONE of the 9 and will report on it in class

Fri, Dec 2 – Introductory psychology textbooks in the 1970s

Mon, Dec 5: 

Jackson, J. P. (2004).  “Racially stuffed shirts and other enemies of mankind”:  Horace Mann Bond’s parody of segregationist psychology in the 1950s.  In A.S. Winston (Ed.), Race, racism, and the history of psychology (pp. 261-283), Washington, D.C.:  American Psychological Association.

Sherif, C. W. (1979/1992).  Bias in psychology.  In J. S. Bohan (Ed.).  Seldom seen, rarely heard:  Women’s place in psychology (pp. 107-146).  Boulder, CO:  Westview Press

Wed, Dec 7

Lewin, M. (1984). "Rather worse than folly?" Psychology measures femininity and masculinity, 1 – From Terman and Miles to the Guilfords and 2 – From "13 Gay Men" to the instrumental-expressive distinction. In M. Lewin (Ed.). In the shadow of the past: Psychology portrays the sexes (pp. 155-204). NY: Columbia University Press.


Fri, Dec 9 – Introductory psychology textbooks in the 1980s

Mon, Dec 12

Jenkins, A. M., et al. (2003).  Chapter 24 (Ethnic minorities) of the Handbook of Psychology (Vol. 1, History of Psychology) (pp. 483-508).  Hoboken, NJ:  John Wiley & Sons

Wed, Dec 14:   Heading us toward thinking about the future of psychology

King, M. L., Jr. (1968). The role of the behavioral scientist in the Civil Rights movement. American Psychologist, 23, 180-186.

Jackson, J. (2000). What ought psychology to do? American Psychologist, 55, 328-330

APA Policy and Planning Board (2005).  APA 2020:  A perfect vision for psychology.  American Psychologist, 60, 512-522.

Fri, Dec 16 – Last day! Wrap up, report on your final projects, etc.


Other internet resources on the History of Psychology

General resources: – Resource guide for history of psych – History and philosophy of psych web resources – Lots of links, including the histories of many departments of psychology – History of psychology from Descartes to William James – unofficial Schultz and Schultz history of psych homepage (based on a very widely used history of psych textbook)

Primary source websites – Classics in the History of Psychology homepage – links to original articles – Primary source e-texts in the history of psychology (ancient times, Medieval times, Renaissance, early 20th C)

History of Psychology organizations/journals -- Cheiron: The International Society for the History of Behavioral and Social Sciences

 http://www.WPI.EDU/~histpsy/toc.htmlHistory of Psychology journal table of contents

People – William James website – Sigmund Freud archives homepage – Women in the history of the social sciences

Grading Guidelines

Below are the guidelines I follow when assigning grades to papers. I use plusses and minuses when the work falls in between the qualities associated with each letter grade. Grades are based both on content and on writing style. I encourage you to ask for help from me, the Learning Center, or any other reasonable source if you’d like assistance with writing. Please acknowledge resources you use in a footnote to your paper.

"A" grades are assigned to outstanding papers. These papers reflect a deep engagement with ideas, insightful analysis, and excellent mastery of the material. Argumentation is logical and coherent, as well as well-documented. The paper addresses all aspects of the assignment fully and clearly. Finally, these "A" papers are well-written with respect to style and grammar.

"B" grades are assigned to papers that demonstrate good mastery of the material, are coherently written, and that contain some insightful ideas. Sometimes "B" papers contain some really good ideas, but do not carry out arguments as elegantly as they could. Other times all of the aspects of the assignment are there, but the ideas are not particularly innovative.

"C" grades are given to papers that do not adequately cover the assignment, demonstrate that the material was not fully understood, and/or have problems with writing style. Sometimes "C" papers have some really good parts, mixed in with some parts that seem like they were not well-thought out. Papers with consistent grammatical or stylistic problems may receive a "C."

"D" grades are assigned to papers that have serious problems – parts of the assignment are totally missing or are really incomplete, the writing is full of errors, the material was seriously misunderstood.

"NC" grades are hardly ever given if a student has put even some work into the paper/essay. However, if the content is totally irrelevant, or the writing is such that it is simply impossible for me to follow the arguments, then I would assign a failing grade.