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Unformatted text preview: Prologue: The Story of Psychology Psychologys Roots Psychology traces its roots back through recorded history to the writings of many scholars who spent their lives wondering about peoplein India, China, the Middle East, and Europe. In their attempt to understand human nature, they looked carefully at how our minds work and how our bodies relate to our minds. Prescientific Psychology More than 2000 years ago, Buddha and Confucius focused on the powers and origin of ideas. In other parts of the world, the ancient Hebrews, Socrates, his student Plato, and Platos student Aristotle pondered whether mind and body are connected or distinct, and whether human ideas are innate or result from experience. In the 1700s, Ren Descartes and John Locke reengaged aspects of those ancient debates, and Locke coined his famous description of the mind as a white paper. Psychological Science Is Born Psychology as we know it today was born in a laboratory in Germany in the late 1800s, when Wilhelm Wundt ran the first true experiments in psychologys first lab. Soon, the new discipline formed branches: structuralism, which searched for the basic elements of the mind, and functionalism, which tried to explain why we do what we do. William James, a pragmatist and functionalist, wrote the first text for the new discipline. Psychological Science Develops After beginning as a science of mental life, psychology evolved in the 1920s into a science of observable behavior. After rediscovering the mind in the 1960s, psychology now views itself as a science of behavior and mental processes. Psychology is growing and globalizing, as psychologists in 69 countries around the world work, teach, and do research. Contemporary Psychology Psychologys Big Issues Psychologists wrestle with several recurring issues. One of these is stability and change over our lifetimes. Another is whether we are consistently rational or sporadically irrational. But the biggest and most enduring issue continues the debate of the early philosophers: the relative influences of nature (genes) and nurture (all other influences, from conception to death). In most cases, the debate is no debate: Every psychological event is simultaneously a biological event. Psychologys Perspectives Psychologists view behavior and mental processes from various perspectives. These viewpoints are complementary, not contradictory, and each offers useful insights in the study of behavior and mental processes. Psychologys Subfields Psychologys subfields encompass basic research (often done by biological, developmental,...
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- Spring '08