Topics as of Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Topics as of Thursday, September 15, 2016

Here is a beginning list of ideas for paper topics. You must establish a topic by Thursday, September 22.

I’ll be available to discuss various ideas with you, to help narrow it down once you are in a ballpark. As I explained in class, I want students to select topics in pairs, one on one side of an issue, the other on an apparently opposite side. This is a way to begin your task with a little bit of structure. Your actual topic will be MORE SPECIFIC than stated here. Taking a side of the issues as stated here is a beginning. Part of your project will be to narrow down and focus your topic.



Was Gestalt Psychology a failure or a success?    One paper starts from one side, the other from the other side.   Obviously you have to know what Gestalt psychology is, immerse yourself in some of it, as well as the context for its promulgation.

John B. Watson was the founder of behaviorism and one of the most important psychologists in our history.   Or — Behaviorism was so inevitable that Watson wasn’t really all that important.

Behaviorism dominated psychology in the 1940’s and 1950’s.   Or — Behaviorism never dominated psychology as much as people say it did.

Cognitive psychology was a true revolution in psychology.   Or — Cognitive psychology was warmed over behaviorism with a few new words allowed.

Chomskyan inspired psycholinguistics changed psychology forever.   Or — The effects of Chomsky passed quickly and had a very small impact.

Developments in neuroscience have led to real progress in psychology.   Or — developments in neuroscience have been a distraction to psychology and have postponed attention to core problems.

Behaviorism was a necessary development in psychology;  Or — Behaviorism should have sold itself as a branch of biology and not psychology. The latter position has been developed by Trinity alum, Robert Epstein (also B. F. Skinner’s last student).

George Miller ushered in the future for Psychologists, time after time.   Or, George Miller was consistently wrong.

Münsterberg — Applied psychology and pure psychology: an important distinction. “Applied psychology” is not possible. “Applied psychology” is quite possible.

The formal origins of most of the sciences, as such, can be traced to Descartes. Accordingly, Psychology is as old as any other science and one cannot explain any aspect of psychology in terms of its being a young science. The opposite position is that psychology is a young science. (Trinity alum, Edward S. Reed, argued for the first position).

The arguments of Tolman vs. Hull and Spence were a very good example of the operation of “normal science” in the sense of Thomas Kuhn. The work of Tolman, as he argued against Hull and Spence sowed the seeds for a scientific revolution, as this concept was developed by Thomas Kuhn.

Titchener “sold” Wundt as an introspectionist — this was historically wrong. Or — it was historically correct.

Not yet structured as pairs, but I’m sure we could manage

The effects of adopting English as the language of science around the world — the case of psychology.

Functionalism, Structuralism–Focus on Baldwin vs. Titchener on reaction time

Extra special topic — Pierre Janet and ties to developmental psychology, Piaget

Individual Differences — from Galton to Trinity Curriculum; relations to Hall, Baldwin vs. Titchener again


History of Psych Syllabus