Discuss How Psychology Developed as a Scientific Discipline Essay examples

1121 Words Apr 14th, 2012 5 Pages
Discuss how psychology developed as a scientific discipline

Prior to psychology being recognised as a scientific discipline in its own right, it was mainly a philosophical concept developed by theorists in areas such as animism and dualism. However, these philosophies were not based on objectivity unlike today’s psychology which maintains that for an investigation to be deemed scientific it must be based on the scientific method, which involves gathering empirical and measurable evidence. A key figure in the development of psychology as a science is René Descartes; a French philosopher and mathematician. Descartes was most influential in his recognition of the body and mind being two separate entities. Descartes differed from
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However, Wundt’s work added scientific credit to psychology as he described how we see a whole object when we perceive, rather than separate elements. Wundt claimed that we see wholes as a result of creative synthesis, which is similar to a process in chemistry in which individual chemical element will form a new entity when combined. Despite the fact structuralism died out in the early twentieth century, Wundt’s contribution to psychology cannot be faulted. Following structuralism, functionalism was developed by psychologists including William James and James Angell. Functionalism did not last however, and its main principles were eventually adopted by behaviourism. Behaviourism began when John. B Watson published his book Psychology from the Standpoint of a Behaviourist, 1919. Watson held that psychology is a science and should be investigated in terms of observable behaviour. Watsons work has been greatly influential, and despite the fact his position on psychology being based on behaviour which is observable has not been adopted, his writings on reflexes being able to be conditioned are incorporated into psychology today. However, Watson’s greatest legacy is the development of two new forms of behaviourism: neobehaviourism and radical behaviourism. B.H Skinner was perhaps one of the most well-known followers of these branches of behaviourism. Skinner became the most influential psychologist of the twentieth century, with his work

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