Only $35.99/year

History & Systems - Test Two

Terms in this set (40)

Although Helmholtz was an empiricist in his explanations of sensation and perception, he did reflect the German Zeitgeist by postulating an active mind. According to Helmholtz, the minds task was to create a reasonably accurate conception of reality from the various "signs" that it receives from the body's sensory systems. Helmholtz assumed that a dynamic relationship exists among volition, sensation, and reflection as the mind attempts to create a functional view of external reality. Helmholtz's view of the mind differed from that of most of the British empiricists and French sensationalists because they saw the mind as largely passive. Although Helmholtz did postulate an active mind, he accepted the empirical explanation of the origins of the contents of the mind. In his explanations of sensation and perception, Helmholtz was empathetically empirical and unequivocally scientific. He showed that nerve transmission is not instantaneous, as had previously been believed, but that it is rather slow and reflects the operation of physical processes. More than anyone before him, Helmholtz showed the experimental rigor the mechanisms by which we do commerce with the physical world - mechanisms that could be explained in terms of objective, physical laws. Although he found that the match between what is physical preset and what is experiences psychologically is not perfect, he could explain that discrepancy in terms of the properties of the receptor systems and the unconscious inferences of the observer. No mystical, unscientific forcers were involved. Helmholtz's work brought physics, chemistry, physiology, and psychology closer together. In doing so, it paved the way for the emergence of experimental psychology.
Franz Joseph Gall accepted the widely held belief that faculties of mind acted on and transformed sensory information, but he made three additional claims that changed the history of faculty psychology: (1) the mental faculties do not exist to the same extent in all humans. (2) the faculties are housed in specific areas of the brain. (3) if a faculty is well developed, a person would have a bump or protrusion on the corresponding part of the skull. Similarly, if a faculty is underdeveloped, a hollow or depression would be on the corresponding part of the skull. Thus, Gall believed that the magnitude of one's faculties could be determined by examining the bumps and depressions on one's skull. Phrenology became enormously popular and was embraced by some of the leading intellectuals in Europe. One reason for the popularity was Gall's considerable reputation. Another was that phrenology provided hope for an objective, materialistic analysis of the mind. Phrenology was also popular because, unlike mental philosophy, it appeared to offer practical information. For these reasons phrenology was also embraced enthusiastically in the United States. In time, the specific claims of the phrenologists were rejected, but phrenology did influence subsequent psychology in a number of important ways: it argued effectively that the mind and brain are closely related; it stimulated intense research on the localization of brain functions; and it showed the importance of furnishing practical information.
In many ways, the decline of the school of structuralism was inevitable. Structuralism was essentially an attempt to study scientifically what had been the philosophical concerns of the past. The major tool of the structuralists was introspection. This, too, had been inherited from the past. Although it was now used scientifically (that is, in a controlled situation), introspection was still yielding different results depending on who was using it and what they were seeking. Also, there was a lack of agreement among highly trained introspectionists concerning the correct description of a given stimulus display. Another argument against Titchener's introspection is that it was really retrospection because the event being reported had already occurred. Therefore, what was being reported was a memory of a sensation rather than the sensation itself. Also, it was suggested that one could not introspect on something without changing it - that is, that observation changed what was being observed. Aside from the apparent unreliability of introspection, structuralism came under attack for other reasons. With its focus on understanding the normal, adult, human mind, structuralism excluded several developments that researchers outside the school were showing to be important. For example, animal behavior held little meaning for those hoping to find the basic elements of human consciousness. Likewise, the structuralists were not interested in the study of abnormal behavior even though Freud and others were making significant advances in understanding and treating individuals who were mentally ill. Similarly, the structuralists essentially ignored personality, learning, psychological development, and individual differences while major breakthroughs occurred in these areas. Also damaging was the structuralists' refusal to seek practical applications. Titchener insisted that he was seeking pure knowledge and was not concerned with the solution to everyday problems. For all of these reasons, the school of structuralism was short-lived and essentially died with Titchener.
Brentano agreed with Wundt that the search for mental elements implied a static view of the mind that was not supported by the facts. Brentano disagreed with Titchener over the importance of knowing the physiological mechanisms behind mental events. According to Brentano, the important thing about the mind was not what is was made of but what it did. In other words, Brentano felt that the proper study of the mind should emphasize the mind's processes rather than its contents or biology. Brentano's views came to be called act psychology because of his belief that mental processes are aimed at performing some function. Among the mental acts, he included judging, recalling, expecting, inferring, doubting, loving, hating, and hoping. Furthermore, each mental act refers to an object outside itself. For example, something is judged, recalled, expected, loved, hated, and so on. Brentano used the term intentionality to describe the fact that every mental act incorporates something outside itself. Thus, Brentano clearly distinguished between seeing the color red and the color red that is seen. Seeing is a mental act, which in this case has as its object the color red. Acts and contents (objects) are inseparable; every mental act intends (refers to, encompasses) an object or event that is the content of the act. To study mental acts and intentionality, Brentano used a form of introspection that Wundt and Titchener (initially) found to be problematic. The careful, controlled analytic introspection designed to report the presence or absence of a sensation or to report the elements of experience was of no use to Brentano. Rather, he used the very type of phenomenological methods - the study of intact, meaningful experiences - that Titchener allowed into his program only toward the end of his life.
In 1911, Goddard administered the Binet-Simon scale to a young woman he called Deborah Kallikak, who had been living at the Training School since 1897. Although Deborah's chronological age was 22, her test performance yielded a mental age of 9, producing an IQ of about 41. Goddard coined the term "moron" to denote Deborah's intellectual level. He then traced Deborah's ancestry back to the American Revolution, when a family member had a relationship with a "feeble-minded" barmaid that resulted in the birth of Martin Kallikak, Jr. Once the relationship ended, the father of Martin Kallikak, Jr. married a "worthy girl" and they had seven children. Martin Jr. eventually married and had 10 children. In Goddard's analysis, the descendants of the elder Martin and the "worthy girl" represented the "good" side of Deborah's ancestry while the descendants of the younger Martin represented the "bad" side. Goddard found that of the elder Martin's children, none were feeble-minded, whereas five of the younger Martin's children were. In subsequent generations on the younger Martin's side, Goddard found an abundance of individuals with mental deficiencies. In Goddard's time, people believed that feeble-mindedness was the cause of most criminal, immoral, and antisocial behavior; and Goddard supported this belief by showing that many descendants of the younger Martin had been horse thieves, prostitutes, convicts, alcoholics, parents of illegitimate children, and sexual deviates. Of the hundreds of descendants from the elder Martin's marriage, only three had had mental deficiencies, and one had been considered "sexual loose." Among the elder Martin's descendants had been doctors, lawyers, educators, and other prestigious individuals. Goddard reported his findings in The Kallikak Family: A Study in the Heredity of Feeble-Mindedness (1912). His research was taken as support for the Galtonian belief that intelligence was genetically determined
To objectively study the experience of bright children through the years, Terman ran one of the most famous studies in psychology's history. By identifying highly intelligent children and observing them over a long period of time, Terman could evaluate his belief that those with high IQs are more successful in life than those with lower IQs. Terman found that the children in his study had parents with above-average educational backgrounds, had learned to read at an early age, participated in a wide range of activites, and produced schoolwork that was usually excellent. All of this might have been expected; the major question was how these children would fare as they became older. Terman did follow-up studies when the average age of the group was about 16 (1927-1928), and again when the average age was about 29 (1939-1940). These studies indicated that test scores were still in the upper 1% of the general population, that members of the group still participated in a wide variety of activities and excelled in most of them, and that they were still outstanding academically. Seventy percent of the men and 67% of the women had finished college, and 56% of the men and 33% of the women had gone on for at least one advanced degree. All these percentages were far higher than for the general population at the time. The final follow-up in which Terman participated took place in 1950-1952, and it showed that members of the group continued to excel in most of the categories studied. By that time, many of the members had attained prominence as doctors, lawyers, teachers, judges, engineers, authors, actors, scientists, and businesspeople. The group of individuals identified by Terman in 1921 has been studied intensely for more than 80 years, and the study continues. For the researchers involved in Terman's longitudinal study, the primary results were clear: the gifted child becomes a gifted adult. Terman believed strongly that giftedness was inherited, but subsequent researchers have shown that many of Terman's results can be explained by taking into account the group members' experiences. In any case, Terman's longitudinal study of gifted individuals clearly showed that the individuals who score high on so-called measures of intelligence early in life do not deteriorate later in life. In fact, his results showed that those who far best in youth also tend to fare best as mature adults.