History of Psychology

  • 3000 BCE

    Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus

    Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus
    The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus described the brain using a combination of symbols. This is the first documented observation of localization of function and contralateral control and the first written reference to the brain.
  • 632 BCE

    Preservation of Aristotle's Writings

    Preservation of Aristotle's Writings
    Islamic philosophers Al-Kindi, Alhazen, & Avicenna preserved Aristotle's writings.
    Al Kindi-development of Arabic numerals, standardized math and science
    Alhazen-developed the theory of vision, studied visual perception
    Avicenna- mind/body dualism & the Floating Man Thought Experiment
  • Period: 1300 to


    The Catholic Church fell from power, people started questioning their faith. The Bubonic Plague caused doubt of power and authorities. This doubt left an opening for scientific inquiry and questioning. This started a scientific revolution which turned people's ideas upside down. The printing press and automaton were both created and showed people science was not dangerous.
  • Renee Descartes Founded School of Rationalism

    Renee Descartes Founded School of Rationalism
    Renee Descartes founded rationalism which is essentially just thinking about things because senses and people deceive us. He believed in mind/body dualism. He believed the mind and body were separated but interacted with each other. This influenced Biopsychology and Gestalt psychology because he viewed the whole as more than the sum of its parts.
  • Thomas Hobbes and Mechanistic Philosophy

    Thomas Hobbes and Mechanistic Philosophy
    Thomas Hobbes viewed human behavior as a machine. He found that external physical movements activated sensory organs via nerve fibers--->the sensory organs then activated the brain----> and ideas (phantasms) originated from "movement" in the brain. He believed any psych. process had a physical cause. He found that humans have a natural survival instinct. This was important because it was a turning point from philosophy to science.
  • John Locke and Empiricism

    John Locke and Empiricism
    John Locke (British philosopher) believed experience was the key to ALL knowledge, there were no "innate ideas"
    He believed our minds were a blank slate at birth and our experiences shaped us and believed in nurture over nature.

    He believed behavior was a result of experiences.
  • Robert Whytt

    Robert Whytt
    Robert Whytt created the first descriptions for anorexia, bulimia, and multiple sclerosis. He introduced the terms "stimulus" and "response" which are very important terms in psychology that are still used every day. He was also the first to analyze the pupillary light reflex.
  • Luigi Galvani

    Luigi Galvani
    Luigi Galvani was an Italian scientist who discovered the electrical properties of nervous tissue and developed the Galvanic Skin Response to measure stress/anxiety which is still used in the modern day. He helped map the nervous system.
  • Franz Mesmer

    Franz Mesmer
    Mesmer was the first to unknowingly demonstrate the placebo effect. He also demonstrated social contagion and social facilitation. He was very interested in magnetism and electricity. This transitioned from Mesmerism to Hypnotism. This eventually led to Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) which is a modern day use of magnetism.
  • Benjamin Rush & Medical Inquiries and Observations

    Benjamin Rush & Medical Inquiries and Observations
    Benjamin Rush published the first psychiatric textbook in 1812. He emphasized the physiological aspects of mental illness. He believed many things influenced the treatment of mental illnesses:
    1. Physiological state influences mood
    2. Importance of diet (veggies over meat)
    3. Influence of climate
  • Bell and Magendie

    Bell and Magendie
    Bell-discovered the ventral half of the spinal cord is responsible for motor functions in the body.
    Magendie-The dorsal half of the spinal cord contains sensation. This was the first localization of function in the nervous system.

    They created the Bell-Magendie law which states that the ventral spinal nerve roots contain only motor fibers and the dorsal roots contain only sensory fibers.
  • Ernst Heinrich Weber

    Ernst Heinrich Weber
    Weber discovered inhibition in the nervous system and found that stimulation in the vagus nerve STOPS heart activity. He was the first to use the two-point test to map cutaneous sensitivity of the body. He found that body parts, position of the stimulus, and the timing of the stimulus all influence sensitivity. He also came up with the "just noticeable difference"
  • Discrediting of Phrenology

    Discrediting of Phrenology
    Pierre Flourens performed animal ablation studies to examine localization of function. He surgically removed pieces of tissue in the brain. He found that the medulla is connected to respiration, the cerebellum is connected to motor coordination, and the cerebral cortex is connected to perception and cognitions. He also observed brain plasticity. This all discredited the prior science of phrenology.
  • Charles Darwin's Influence on Psychology

    Charles Darwin's Influence on Psychology
    Darwin documented evidence of evolution by studying birds in the Galapagos islands. He emphasized that environment mattered. This influenced comparative psychology, developmental psychology, and the adaptive nature of behavior. This led to eugenics and twin studies (to study heredity vs. environment)
  • Paul Broca and Broca's Area

    Paul Broca and Broca's Area
    Paul Broca had a patient, Louis Victor LeBorgne, who could not speak and could only say the word "tan." He discovered a part of the brain-now known as Broca's Area- that is important for language production and it is where language is localized. This is important because it was the birth of neuropsychology.
  • Principles of Physiological Psychology

    Principles of Physiological Psychology
    Willhelm Wundt published "Principles of Physiological Psychology"
  • Formal Founding of Experimental Psychology Lab & Volkerpsychologie

    Formal Founding of Experimental Psychology Lab & Volkerpsychologie
    Willhelm Wundt worked under Von Helmholtz. He established the first psychology research journal in 1881. He initially studied mental processes that are associated with physiological processes. Later he studied sociocultural psychology and discovered "Volkerpsychologie" which studied the psychology of religion, language, personality, and culture/tradition.
  • Act Psychology and Franz Brentano

    Act Psychology and Franz Brentano
    Act psychology focuses on the inseparable interaction between the individual and the environment. Brentano looked at psychological events as phenomena and these events could not be reduced to smaller components. This opposed structuralism because it was believed that breaking things into smaller pieces destroyed the unity. This unity of consciousness influenced Gestalt Psychology which then led to humanistic psychology
  • G Stanley Hall

    G Stanley Hall
    He earned the first PhD in psychology in the U.S. under Wundt. He also founded the APA. He advanced child development by introducing the use of self-reports since kids cannot use introspection. He shared this data with the public through parenting classes. He also came up with the idea/studied adolescence and noted the transition between kids and adults. He also noted that there are significant cultural differences between countries when it comes to treatment of elders
  • Emil Kraeplin & The Classification of Mental Illnesses

    Emil Kraeplin & The Classification of Mental Illnesses
    Emil Kraeplin was a German psychiatrist who attempted to classify mental illnesses (DSM). He looked at manic depressive psychosis (current day-Bipolar Disorder), dementia praecox (current day-schizophrenia) and Alzheimer's disease.
  • Freud Opens Clinic

    Freud Opens Clinic
    Freud opened a clinic to focus on the content of the unconscious mind. He used hypnosis/dream interpretation, free association (word association) because he believed they were windows to the unconscious mind.
  • Edward Bradford Titchener

    Edward Bradford Titchener
    He brought experimental psychology to the U.S. He studied mental processes and structuralism. The main goals of his research were to identify simple elements of mental processes, how the elements combine to create mental experiences, and the causal factors for mental experience.
  • Pavlov's Dogs

    Pavlov's Dogs
    Ivan Pavlov was a physiologist who studied digestion and the role of saliva in dogs. This was the start of classical conditioning. Within classical conditioning studies, higher order conditioning, generalization, differentiation, and experimental neuroses were all discovered.
  • Lightner Witmer-First Clinic

    Lightner Witmer-First Clinic
    Lightner Witmer was interested in association in children with cognitive disorders. He opened the first clinic (run by psychologists) to test and treat patients-currently known as clinical psychology.
  • Dream Dictionary

    Dream Dictionary
    Freud published the first dream dictionary which interpreted dreams. He believed dreams were windows to the unconscious mind. This really opened up the idea of the unconscious mind.
  • Hugo Munsterburg

    Hugo Munsterburg
    Munsterburg made huge advances for clinical, industrial, and forensic psychology.
    Clinical-he argued against standardized treatment for patients
    Industrial-he studied vocational fitness and how work affected behavior
    Forensic- he studied eyewitness testimony, suggestibility of witnesses false confessions, & interrogations
  • "The Dr That Never Was"

    "The Dr That Never Was"
    Mary Whiton Calkins was nicknamed "The Dr. That Never Was." She was influential during this time because she studied the self through functionalism and structuralism. She convinced Harvard to audit classes in agreement that she would NOT get a degree, She was also the 14th President of the APA (and the first female).
  • Hysteria

    Hysteria was a condition that was included in the DSM until 1980. It was only diagnosed in women because of the sexist culture and it was believed to be related to the uterus. The recommended treatment was marriage and sex.
  • Robert Sessions Woodworth

    Robert Sessions Woodworth
    Woodworth laid out rules for experimental design. He stressed the importance of the clarification of independent and dependent variables, operationalization of variables, and control groups which are all still used in psychology today.
  • Alfred Binet-First IQ Test

    Alfred Binet-First IQ Test
    Alfred Binet was hired by the French Government to develop an IQ test for kids that would test to see which kids might need assistance. He studied his own children. He later created the Binet-Simon Intelligence Scale. This ended up being used by others in an ill way.
  • John Watson

    John Watson
    John Watson was a behaviorist. He believed there were 3 innate emotions, fear, love, and rage. After Watson had an affair with his graduate student, Rosalie Raynor, he was fired from Johns Hopkins and shifted careers. He looked at psychology in advertising and was one of the first to study peripheral advertising. He also acknowledged there were different styles of parenting and wrote "Psychological Care of Infant & Child"
  • The Destroyer of the Variability Hypothesis

    The Destroyer of the Variability Hypothesis
    Leta Stetter Hollingworth studied under G. Stanley Hall. She looked at the variability hypothesis which stated that men are either great or awful, and women are just average. She studied behavioral/physical differences in boy and girl infants and discovered no differences between groups. She un-did the variability hypothesis at this time.
  • Little Albert

    Little Albert
    "Little Albert" (participant-Douglas Merriette) was an experiment performed by John Watson and his graduate student, Rosalie Rayner. It demonstrated classical conditioning in humans. It was an extremely controversial experiment because it seems to have been unethical.
  • William Moulton Marston

    William Moulton Marston
    Marston was Munsterburg's student. He developed the polygraph test and also created Wonder Woman. This was a huge movement for women at this time. Wonder Woman was a role model to children.
  • The Pleasure Principle

    The Pleasure Principle
    In Freudian times, the pleasure principle stated that people are innately driven to seek pleasure and avoid pain. People may use coping mechanisms to avoid pain
    Examples include:
    -social withdrawal
    -loving and being loved
    -mental illness
  • John Piaget

    John Piaget
    John Piaget studied children's mental development and studied which cognitive structures were active at different points in development. He found a pattern within children of the same ages.
  • The Boulder Conference

    The Boulder Conference
    After World War II, it was realized that there needed to be a standardization of treatment for patients (at the time experiencing "shell shock") The Boulder Conference established guidelines for practicing clinical psychology in regards to internships and licensing.
  • B.F. Skinner

    B.F. Skinner
    B.F. Skinner studied operant conditioning, which is a change in voluntary behavior based on environmental consequences. He believed humans and animals operated on environment. He also developed the Skinner box. Skinner still has a big influence on psychology today. Programmed instruction is still used. He also helped develop Applied Behavioral Analysis. He also helped to development animal training using positive reinforcements.
  • DSM

    the first edition of the DSM was created. It is revised about every 10 years.
  • Rational Emotional Behavioral Therapy (REBT)

    Rational Emotional Behavioral Therapy (REBT)
    Created by Albert Ellis, this is still a form of therapy used today. It is focused on helping patients change their irrational emotional reactions. It is commonly used to treat bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder.
  • Systematic Desensitization

    Systematic Desensitization
    This is still a form of therapy used today created by Joseph Wolpe. The patient is exposed to anxiety-producing stimuli and taught relaxation techniques. It is commonly used to treat anxiety and phobias.
  • Bobo Doll Experiment

    Bobo Doll Experiment
    Albert Bandura studied the social learning theory which basically states we learn by watching others. Bandura found that certain things increase the rate at which we would follow the "model;" how much we like them, if the model is nice, the power/status of the model, and how similar they are to ourselves. This was extremely important because it influenced learning.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
    CBT is still commonly used today. It was created by Aaron Beck. It focuses on hanging the patients' irrational thoughts. It can be used to treat anxieties, phobias, depression, addictions, etc.
  • CT Scan

    CT Scan
    Computed Tomography. The CT Scan was the first to allow one to look at a patients' brain while alive. These are still commonly used today.
  • The Vail Conference

    The Vail Conference established the Psychology Doctorate (Psy.D.) degree for those who were primarily focused on practice, not research. This provided an alternative to the PhD degree.
  • MRI

    Magnetic Resonance Imaging. The MRI shows a detailed image of the brain. It uses a magnetic field and radio waves. It is non-invasive and is still used today.
  • PET Scan

    PET Scan
    Positron Emission Tomography. This sort of brain scan can look at brain activity after radioactive "tracers" are absorbed into the bloodstream.
  • fMRI

    Functional Magnetic Resonance Imgaing. This brain scan shows a detailed, structural image, and activity in the brain by detecting changes associated with blood flow.
  • Future of Psychology

    Future of Psychology
    Psychology is currently evolving to study identity. This includes multicultural psychology, intersectionality, and prejudice & priviledge. There is also a new movement of health psychology (due to longer lifespans) and positive psychology (resilience/altruism)