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Forensic Psychology Essay

1383 words - 6 pages

What is a psychologist? What are the duties of a psychologist? When asked about the duties of a teacher or police officer your response will most likely be accurate or at minimum mildly accurate, but when asked the same question about a psychologist’s duties, people tend to have a clouded or sometimes blatantly inaccurate view. (C. Super and D. Super 1). The study of psychology refers to the observation of human and animal behavior; the goal is to use the observations to explain the causes or reasons as to why an animal or human chooses a certain course of action (Belkin and Witting 2). Psychology is considered a relatively new discipline of science. The earliest traces of psychology come from the father of the science, Wilhelm Wundt, dating back to 1879 in Leipzig, Germany where Wundt established the first laboratory for the purpose of studying psychology (Belkin and Witting 5). Many “hard” or natural scientists such as anthropologists and chemists discredit psychology as a science because one hundred percent accuracy or certainty is rare. One of the common controversies within the field of psychology is determining if behavior is a direct result of inherited characteristics or environmental influences (Belkin and Witting 3). Nevertheless, psychology has evolved for well over a century and it has various applications and specialties. A common appliance of psychology is to the criminal field, frequently in the pursuit of serial offenders. The development of psychology, the use of conducted research and formed statistics, and the application to the legal system, form the field known as forensic psychology.
To understand the history of forensic psychology, one must use a broader scope because forensic psychology is an application of the scientific discipline of psychology. Wilhelm Wundt is considered the father of psychology because he was the first to declare himself a psychologist and characterize his establishment as a psychological laboratory. (Belkin and Witting 6). However he was not the first to have psychological findings. Examples include Johannes Muller, who developed a theory of sensation to help explicate how nerve cells transport information to the brain and E.H. Weber who researched the sense of touch, as well as developing a formula regarding the relationship between stimulus and sensation, which is known as Weber’s law. (Belkin and Witting 5). Medicine also had a large influence on the development of psychology. Before the early 1800’s those who exhibited anomalous behavior was considered to be demonic or possessed, but medical professionals of the 1870’s took a different approach than their preceding practitioners and formed new treatment methods (Belkin and Witting 9).
The first American psychological laboratory was founded by William James at Harvard College in 1890 (Belkin and Witting 11). William James studied under the early system or concept of functionalism, which focuses on discovering the purpose of behavior, rather...

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