The History and Bases of Psychology
The goal of this chapter is provide an overall view, a "big picture" framework, for the introductory level study of psychology. Such a "big picture" framework is not only beneficial but also very necessary owing to the diversity of scientific interests within Psychology. Otherwise, the width of psychology's scope might lead you to utter, as an old saying goes, you can't see the forest for the trees. Psychology has grown dramatically in its range of interests since its founding, incorporating the natural and social sciences as well as the liberal arts and humanities. Because of the great breadth and depth of psychology, this text, as any other Introductory Psychology text, will not be able to do delve in-depth in all aspects of the field. Every topic covered will be simplified and some topics will, unfortunately, be omitted. However, the hope is that the "big picture" of modern psychology will emerge, nonetheless.
I. Psychology and its relationship to other fields.
Psychology is the study of the mind and how its processes guide and direct our thoughts, actions and perceptions. But it is a relatively young formal science with the first psychology laboratory being opened in 1879 by Wilhelm Wundt at the University of Leipzig in Germany. However, the roots of psychology go back thousands of years to the early Greeks. Those roots are very closely tied to biology and philosophy; and in particular the subfields of physiology (the study of the functions of living things) and epistemology (the study knowledge and how we know what we know), respectively. In fact, before Wundt's laboratory, researchers studying what we today would call psychology were frequently based in the departments of philosophy in universities. The ties to physiology and epistemology are so close that we can think of psychology as the hybrid offspring of those two parent fields of study.
Today, because of that hybrid heritage, psychology is...