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History of Modern Psychology

History of modern psychology can be traced back to the ancient Greek and Egypt. Modern psychology entails the scientific study of the human mental processes and behaviors. Prior to 1879, psychology was studied under philosophy as one of its branches. Later, it was developed as an autonomous scientific field in the United States and Germany. There are other fields that are closely related to psychology that include sociology, physiology, artificial intelligence, neuroscience and anthropology.

Curiosity on the human cognitive processes and behaviors has facilitated change of modern psychology into a developed scientific discipline. In its initial stages, Wilhelm Wundt made the earliest official laboratory that was meant for the examination of experimental psychology (Gerrig, 2002). His main aim was to comprehend the primary processes of perception, velocity and perception of the cognitive operations. Therefore, Wundt became the first psychologist to train graduate students in the psychology (Leahey, 2001).

As a result, psychology became developed as an independent field in scientific studies. In fact, many laboratories cane up in some universities in all over North America. Among these universities was John Hopkins University (1883) and Cornell University (1883). There are also certain texts documented by William James including “The Principals of Psychology”. Modern psychology was further enhanced through the establishment of the American Psychological Association in 1892, by Stanley Hall (Goodwin, 2008). Many psychological institutions tremendously grew so that by 1900, there were over forty scientific laboratories in North America. However, there was an argument on the specific subjects and methodology employed in the psychological studies. (Leahey, 2001).

More so, psychology turned into laboratory science with Wundt emphasizing on the precise measurements, scientific techniques and statistical analysis of finding results and outcomes. Then, Titchener proposed that the technique (introspection) should be utilized in the in the study of the individual’s consciousness; feelings and thought.

On the other hand, James developed Gestalt psychology that opposed what structuralism believed. This study emphasized on the examination of the whole individual rather than the sums of the different parts. Functionalism was also established as another opponent of structuralism. This one also focused on the individual’s mental behavior and his interaction with the environment (Gerrig, 2002).

William James also found out that consciousness was a persistent interaction with the environment. He also believed that the functions of the cognitive operations are more vital than the contents. In addition, John Dewey introduced the school of functionalism. Due to the discoveries made on the uses of the mental operations, strategic improvements in education were created. Dewey’s studies were highly instrumental in progressive education and applicable in his laboratories and the United States’ institutions (Gerrig, 2002). Clearly, most of the scholars concurred with Wundt’s ideas of laboratory techniques. On contrast, James believed in the use of will, self, religion, values, emotion and mystical encounters.

The question of the modern psychological views originated from functional and structuralism theories. Some of these perspectives include humanist, biological, psychodynamic, cognitive, cultural and evolutionary perspectives (Goodwin, 2008). Each of these perspectives has its own ideas on behavior. For instance, the biological view asserts that the functions of the brain, genes, nervous and endocrine systems are responsible for causing behavior. On the other hand, the psychodynamic perspective argues that behavior is caused by motivational forces and past encounters (Gerrig, 2002).

In conclusion, modern psychology’s origin is traceable to the ancient Greeks and the Egyptians. There is a clear development of the psychology motivated by different studies of various scholars. As the field developed further, many universities and laboratories were also started. Therefore, the history of modern psychology should be studied in that it gives a full insight on the field.  

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