Has psychology a future?

I consider that psychologists have a duty to explore their own field, to create hypotheses about the behavior of animals, especially human, and to test these and look for possible causal relationships at the level of acting, thinking, perceiving humans
in their environmental context. Our agenda should be at this level, not one that depends all waiting for reductionist theories at some other level, be it neural, genetic, nuclear, or especially artificial. To go about this work, a developmental approach, in a systems setting-the organism-environment system-holds great promise and has the dignity of successful precedents in other sciences.

Gibson, E. J. (1994). Has psychology a future?. Psychological Science5(2), 69-76. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

Psychology as Philosophy

Not all human motion is behaviour. Each of us in this room is moving eastward at about 700 miles an hour, carried by the diurnal rotation of the earth, but this is not a fact about our behaviour. When I cross my legs, the raised foot bobs gently with the beat of my heart, but I do not move my foot. Behaviour consists in things we do, whether by intention or not, but where there is behaviour, intention is relevant. In the case of actions, the relevance may be expressed this way: an event is an action if and only if it can be described in a way that makes it intentional. For example, a man may stamp on a hat, believing it is the hat of his rival when it is really his own. Then stamping on his own hat is an act of his, and part of his behaviour, though he did not do it intentionally. As observers we often describe the actions of others in ways that would not occur to them. This does not mean that the concept of intention has been left behind, however, for happenings cease to be actions or behaviour only when there is no way of describing them in terms of intention.

Davidson, D. (1974). Psychology as philosophy. In Philosophy of psychology (pp. 41-52). Palgrave Macmillan, London. Source

The Principles of Psychology

Psychology is the Science of Mental Life, both of its phenomena and of their conditions. The phenomena are such things as we call feelings, desires, cognitions, reasonings, decisions, and the like; and, superficially considered, their variety and complexity is such as to leave a chaotic impression on the observer. The most natural and consequently the earliest way of unifying the material was, first, to classify it as well as might be, and, secondly, to affiliate the diverse mental modes thus found, upon a simple entity, the personal Soul, of which they are taken to be so many facultative manifestations. Now, for instance, the Soul manifests its faculty of Memory, now of Reasoning, now of Volition, or again its Imagination or its Appetite. This is the orthodox ‘spiritualistic’ theory of scholasticism and of common-sense. Another and a less obvious way of unifying the chaos is to seek common elements in the divers mental facts rather than a common agent behind them, and to explain them constructively by the various forms of arrangement of these elements, as one explains houses by stones and bricks. The ‘associationist’ schools of Herbart in Germany, and of Hume, the Mills and Bain in Britain, have thus constructed a psychology without a soul by taking discrete ‘ideas,’ faint or vivid, and showing how, by their cohesions, repulsions, and forms of succession, such things as reminiscences, perceptions, emotions, volitions, passions, theories, and all the other furnishings of an individual’s mind may be engendered. The very Self or ego of the individual comes in this way to be viewed no longer as the pre-existing source of the representations, but rather as their last and most complicated fruit.

James, W. (2007). The principles of psychology (Vol. 1). Cosimo, Inc. http://infomotions.com/sandbox/great-books-redux/corpus/html/principles.html

The New Psychology

Bacon’s dictum regarding the proneness of the mind, in explanation, towards unity and simplicity, at no matter what sacrifice of material, has found no more striking exemplification than that offered in the fortunes of psychology. The least developed of the sciences, for a hundred years it has borne in its presentations the air of the one most completely finished. The infinite detail and complexity of the simplest psychical life, its interweavings with the physical organism, with the life of others in the social organism,– created no special difficulty; and in a book like James Mill’s Analysis we find every mental phenomenon not only explained, but explained by reference to one principle. That rich and colored experience, never the same in two nations, in two individuals, in two moments of the same life,– whose thoughts, desires, fears, and hopes have furnished the material for the ever-developing literature of the ages, for a Homer and a Chaucer, a Sophocles and a Shakespeare, for the unwritten tragedies and comedies of daily life,– was neatly and carefully dissected, its parts labeled and stowed away in their proper pigeon-holes, the inventory taken, and the whole stamped with the stamp of un fait accompli. Schematism was supreme, and the air of finality was over all.

Dewey, J. (1884). The new psychology. Andover Review2, 278-289. http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Dewey/newpsych.htm

Psychology and Economics


Because psychology systematically explores human judgment, behavior, and well-being, it can teach us important facts about how humans differ from traditional economic assumptions. In this essay I discuss a selection of psychological findings relevant to economics. Standard economics assumes that each person has stable, well-defined preferences, and that she rationally maximizes those preferences. Section 2 considers what psychological research teaches us about the true form of preferences, allowing us to make economics more realistic within the rational-choice framework. Section 3 reviews research on biases in judgment under uncertainty; because those biases lead people to make systematic errors in their attempts to maximize their preferences, this research poses a more radical challenge to the economics model. The array of psychological findings reviewed in Section 4 points to an even more radical critique of the economics model: Even if we are willing to modify our familiar assumptions about preferences, or allow that people make systematic errors in their attempts to maximize those preferences, it is sometimes misleading to conceptualize people as attempting to maximize well-defined coherent, or stable preferences.

Rabin, M. (1998). Psychology and economics. Journal of economic literature36(1), 11-46. https://escholarship.org/content/qt8jd5z5j2/qt8jd5z5j2.pdf

Psychology and Culture


Psychological processes influence culture. Culture influences psychological processes. Individual thoughts and actions influence cultural norms and practices as they evolve over time, and these cultural norms and practices influence the thoughts and actions of individuals. Large bodies of literature support these conclusions within the context of research on evolutionary processes, epistemic needs, interpersonal communication, attention, perception, attributional thinking, self-regulation, human agency, self-worth, and contextual activation of cultural paradigms. Crosscultural research has greatly enriched psychology, and key issues for continued growth and maturation of the field of cultural psychology are articulated.

Lehman, D. R., Chiu, C. Y., & Schaller, M. (2004). Psychology and culture. Annu. Rev. Psychol.55, 689-714.