Psyc 6020 -- Historical & Theoretical Foundations of Psychology A

Fall 2011 -- Thursday, 11:30-2:30, Ross N814

Christopher Green

York ext. 66164

BSB 286

This course will focus on the development of scientific and applied psychologies, ca. 1850-1950.


Assignments: The required assignment each week typically consist of three chapters or articles plus one electronic media source (audio/video). The readings are drawn from textbooks, from the scholarly secondary literature on the history of psychology, and from primary source historical documents. The electronic media sources consist of videos and podcast interviews with prominent historians of psychology. They are available online.


Students are expected to do the required readings/watchings/listenings before each class, to attend every class, and to actively participate in class discussion every week.


Textbook: Benjamin, L. T. (2007). A Brief History of Modern Psychology. (Blackwell)

"Classics in the History of Psychology" website:

"This Week in the History of Psychology" podcast series: (or iTunes)

"Toward a School of Their Own" video documentary:

"A School of Their Own" video documentary:

"An Academy in Crisis" video documentary:


Seminars: In the second class, each student will be assigned a week during which they will lead the seminar discussion in collaboration with two other students. Seminar leaders should, of course, be intimately familiar with the assigned sources for that week, but they are also expected to have gone well beyond those readings, presenting to the class material that was not available in the assigned sources. They are also expected not simply to talk themselves for the entire time, but to engage the class in substantial discussion by offering pertinent questions that have not been resolved in the foregoing assignments and presentations. Other students in the class, in turn, are expected to actively participate in this discussion each week.


Course Conference: The last two weeks of the course will be reserved for a conference on the history of psychology. Scholarly conferences are a central part of academic life, and this aspect of the course is aimed at giving students some experience in this critical skill. A few other members of the York community may be invited to attend as well. Each student will make a 10-min presentation, followed by a short question-and-answer period. The topics of the presentations are to be mutually agreed upon by the student and instructor. It is crucial that they be narrow enough that something valuable can be said about them in the 10 minutes allotted. Thus, "Sigmund Freud" is an inappropriately broad topic. "The Impact of Freud's 1909 of Clark University Lectures on the American Reception of Psychoanalysis" would be better (though, note, there is a ~450-pp. book on this particular topic, so even small-looking topics can unexpectedly complex).


Evaluation: Students will be evaluated on the seminar they led, their contributions to class discussion during othersí seminars, and their performance at the end-of-term conference (both in their own presentation, and in their discussion of others' presentations). The relative weights of these three aspects will be equal.


History of Psychology Journals

Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences (the venerable)

History of Psychology (managed by APA Division 26)

History of the Human Sciences (European)

American Journal of Psychology (some history of experimental psychology)

American Psychologist (some history articles, and many obituaries, which can be good sources of basic information, but beware of their overtly "celebratory" character).


See also Pickren, W. E. & Dewsbury, D. A. (2002). Evolving perspectives on the history of psychology. Washington, DC: APA. It is a collection of reprints of some of the best articles and chapters over the past few decades.


Reference Sources

Note: Encyclopedia entries can be good places to start, especially for basic biographical information (e.g., birth, death, degrees, academic positions, titles of major works) but the entries are often written by non-specialists, and so interpretations can be superficial, and occasionally be absurdly wrong.

Encyclopedia of Psychology (APA./Oxford) on-line at York library

Biographical Dictionary of Psychology (L. Zusne, Ed.; older but still useful)

Dictionary of Scientific Biography (older now, but still useful)

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (British) online at York library

American National Biography

The Canadian Encyclopedia (Hurtig) on-line at York library

Encyclopedia Britannica (if you must use a wholly general source) on-line at York library



Biographies are an essential resource, but they vary wildly in quality. Find the one that historians use (e.g., Buckley's biography of J.B. Watson over others). Check the book reviews (in Contemporary Psychology/PsycCRITIQUES), or ask someone who knows.

See bottom of Don Dewsbury's term paper guidelines for enormous list of sources:






Secondary Source

Primary Source (on CHP)


 8 Sept





[teach wiki]

15 Sept

Philosophical & popular background

Chap 1

Sokal (2001)


Phrenology video (Van Wyhe) in class

22 Sept

German physiology & psychophysics

Chaps 2

Borell (1987)


Broca podcast (Finger)

29 Sept

Wundt & the rise of experimental psychology

Chap 3

Danziger (1980)

Robinson (2001)


Wundt podcast (Robinson)

6 Oct

Evolution, functionalism, & pragmatism

Chap 4

Cadwallader (1992)

Morris (2005)

Dewey (1896)

Functionalism 1 video (Green)


Menand interviewed on Metaphysical Club in class

13 Oct






20 Oct

Functionalism 2 / Founding of laboratories, journals, & associations

Chap 5

Sokal (1992)

APA (1892-1893)

Functionalism 2 video (Green)


27 Oct

Mental tests, IQ tests, personality tests, eugenics, & immigration

Chap 6

Danziger (1990)

Sokal (1987)



R. B. Cattell podcast (Tucker )

 3 Nov


Chap 7

Ellenberger (1972)

Freud (1910)

Freud podcast (Fancher)

10 Nov


Chap 8

Wozniak (1997)

Watson (1913)

Watson podcast (Brewer)

17 Nov

Professionalization of clinical & other applied psychologies

Chaps 9, 10-

Taylor (2000)


Shakow report podcast (Baker)

24 Nov

Conference 1





 1 Dec

Conference 2







(All documents at are in the public domain. Others are available in or through the York library.)

Abbott, A. H. (1900). Experimental psychology and the laboratory in Toronto. University of Toronto Monthly, 1, 85-98, 106-112. (

American Psychological Association. (1892-1893). Proceedings of the Preliminary Meeting (1892), the First Annual Meeting (1892), and the Second Annual Meeting (1893). (

American Psychological Association. (1947). Recommended graduate training program in clinical psychology. American Psychologist, 2, 539-558. (

Benjamin, L. T. & Baker, D. B. (2004). Clinical psychology. In From sťance to science: A history of the profession of psychology in America. (pp. 32-80). Thompson/Wadsworth.

Benschop, R. & Draaisma, D. (2000). In pursuit of precision: The calibration of mind and machines in late nineteenth-century psychology. Annals of Science, 57, 1-25.

Borell, M. (1987). Instrumentation and the rise of modern physiology. Science & Technology Studies, 5, 53-62. (on JSTOR)

Cadwallader, T. K. (1992). The historical roots of the American Psychological Association. In R. B. Evans, V. S. Sexton, T. C. Cadwallader (Eds.), The American Psychological Association: A historical perspective (pp. 3-42). Washington, D.C.: APA.

Danziger, K. (1980). The history of introspection reconsidered. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 16, 241-262.

Danziger, K. (1990). Marketable methods. Chapter 7 of Constructing the Subject: Historical origins of psychological reearch. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Dewey, John. (1896) The reflex arc concept in psychology. Psychological Review, 3, 357-370. (

Ellenberger, H. F. (1972). The story of "Anna O": A critical review with new data. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 8, 267-279.

Freud, S. (1910). First lecture. from The origin and development of psychoanalysis. American Journal of Psychology, 21, 181-218. (

Morris, C. R. (2005). The first mass consumer society. Chapter 6 of The tycoons: How Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould, and J, P, Morgan invented the American supereconomy. New York: Owl Books.

Myers, C. R. (1982). Psychology at Toronto. In M. J. Wright & C. R. Myers (Eds.), History of academic psychology in Canada (pp. 68-99). Toronto: C. J. Hogrefe.

Robinson, D. K. (2001). Reaction time experiments in Wundt's institute and beyond. In R. W. Rieber & D. K. Robinson (Eds.), Wilhelm Wundt in history: The making of a scientific psychology (pp. 161-204).

Sokal, M. M. (1992). Origins and early years of the American Psychological Association: 1890-1906. In R. B. Evans, V. S. Sexton, T. C. Cadwallader (Eds.), The American Psychological Association: A historical perspective (pp. 43-72). Washington, D.C.: APA.

Sokal, M. M. (1987). James McKeen Cattell and mental anthropometry: Nineteenth-century science and reform and the origins of psychological testing. In M. M. Sokal (Ed.), Psychological testing and American society, 1890-1930. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Sokal, M. M. (2001). Practical phrenology as psychological counseling in the 19th-century United States. In C. D. Green, M. Shore, & T. Teo (Eds.), The transformation of psychology: Influences of 19th-century philosophy, technology and natural science. Washington, DC: APA)

Taylor, E. (2000). Psychotherapeutics and the problematic origins of clinical psychology in America. American Psychologist, 55, 1029-1033.

Watson, J. B. (1913). Psychology as the behaviorist views it. Psychological Review, 20, 158-177. (

Wozniak, R. H. (1997). Theoretical roots of early behaviorism: Functionalism, the critique of introspection, and the nature and evolution of consciousness. (