Psychologists: James, Munsterberg, Stanley Hall, Mckeen Cattell, Dill Scott

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In the west, psychology exist when ancient Greek philosophers’ questions about the theory of mind and body. So, it happened too in the eastern continents of ancient civilizations Egypt, China and India. Psychology started as a branch of philosophy until it is developed into its independent discipline by mid-1800s, where Germany- Wilhellm Wundt and United States- William James leads it as scientific discipline frontier of its own. A person’s individual development is governed by biological, psychological and social-cultural influences. Psychology is a wide discipline that seek to understand how these three major influences interacts each other to shape who we are. This essay will be focusing on a few American and Germany psychologist brief biography and focusing their major contributions into subdisciplines and interdisciplinary in psychology.

William James (1842-1910) known as Father of American Psychology due to his contributions being the first American academician who teach psychology in United States. Being born in an affluent family, he received enriched education and traveled a lot to Europe which expanded his horizon into art and cultural. William’s father who has strong interest in philosophy and theology wished William to study science or philosophy, however William’s wills to study painting was so strong that was eventually consented by his liberalism father. William forgo the interest in painting after a year study and switch to study chemistry in Harvard and eventually graduated with Medical Degree in 1869 but was never put into practice. William was suffered with health problems and depression, spent two years studying in Germany and France, eventually shifted his interest into psychology and philosophy. He teaches in Harvard from 1875 – 1907, spent most of his career teaching and writing. His selected works are The Principles of Psychology (1890), The Will to Believe (1897), and Pragmatism (1907). Setting up psychological lab in United States has earned him as pioneer into scientific study of psychology in the school of Functionalism. However, his was ambivalent about psychology and eventually focused more on philosophy. His contribution to psychology theories includes Pragmatism, Functionalism and James-Lange Theory of Emotion. James philosophy also initially believe monism but revert to pluralism. Very much similar like his own father, William James posed liberal attitude towards philosophy, theology and psychology.

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Hugo Munsterberg (1863-1916) was a German psychologist. Also being brought up in affluent family enabled him to receive good literacy in music, literature and art. Both parents died before he was 20 years old had mould him became mature compared to his peers. He devoted to study psychology after becoming research assistant for Wilhellm Wundt, earned his Ph.D in Psychology and degree in medical. Munsterberg’s book titled Activity of the Will which received much criticism from Wundt and Edward Titchener because in favors of James’s theory of emotion. William James offered him to take charge his psychology lab at Harvard (1892) eventually lead him to continue teaching in Harvard. He contributed into applied psychology-clinical, forensic and industrial- Organisational psychology. Renown research works includes – Psychotherapy (1909), On the Witness Stand (1908) and Psychology and Industrial Efficiency (1913). However, his controversy in political views during first world war where he supported Germany had done much damage for his popularity among Americans to acknowledge him for many years.

Granville Stanley Hall (1846 – 1924) is an American psychologist. Initially studied philosophy in Germany and later attracted to psychology because of Wundt’s work. Renown for first American to earn Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard University under William James. His contributions mainly on child & development psychology and educational psychology. Inspired from Darwin’s Evolution theory, Ernst Haeckel’s theory of recapitulation, Sigmund Freud’s and Carl Jung psychoanalytic and many more. Raised in a rather conservative family, his mindset was seen like a transitional idea between traditional and modernism period which explain most theories of his were extreme and not very well accepted. Example- his political-social views is more advocates to German’s Volk movement than American emphasis on individualist. He had no empathy too towards the poor and genetically defects labeled him as eugenicist. In general, Hall is known for more like an active organizer of psychology, successfully establishing psychology in the United States through his active involvement of bringing in constructive and practical activities involving psychology as a profession.

James McKeen Cattell (1860-1944) is an American psychologist. Inspired by Wundt too to study psychology. He pioneered the term mental test, his research on human intelligence which used quantitative methods which qualified psychology as a legitimate science. While working under Wundt, he become the first American to publish dissertations, Psychometric Investigation. Cattell later returned to America and actively involved with major publications – Psychological Review (1894-1903), Journal of Science (1894-1944) and many more. He is one of the figures who struggled to fight for psychology to viewed as a science or on par with the physical and life science.

Walter Dill Scott (1869-1955) is an American Psychologist who earned his Ph.D. in psychology from Wundt, Germany. His focus was on applying psychology into business – advertising and management. His studies had contributed to the industrial-Organisational Psychology – applied science of psychological theories and principles to organizations. His selected works are – “The Theory of Advertising (1903) and “The Psychology of Advertising (1908)”. Scott was highly credited for his passion into solving practical problems in advertising and industrial rather than developing theories makes him entitled Father of Applied Psychology.

Conclusion, psychology today must thanks to the philosophical mind of ancient times that prompted other scholastic mind later to further investigate and developed new paradigm of knowledge. Germany has pioneered the scientific thinking into psychology and later spread into many more basic psychology branches and applied sciences using psychology. Psychologist mindset of the west is more to scientific observation while in the East is more inwardly focused. Western focused at individualistic-human uniqueness while eastern focused at collectivism-holistic. However, both can learn from each other because all human wants to have a happy and productive life.


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