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Psychology As A Pradigm Essay

1803 words - 8 pages

Thomas Kuhn asserts that sciences more mature than psychology have reached what he describes as a paradigm (Kuhn, 1963). A paradigm is a model, universally accepted by practitioners of a science during the period of its development (Watson, 1966). A paradigm must attract adherents away from approaches that oppose its own, and is sufficiently open-ended so that the problems it leaves can be resolved (Locurto, 2013; Kuhn, 1963). Therefore, a paradigm directs research and defines problems worth solving (Locurto, 2013). With a global acceptance among practitioners a paradigm defines the science it operates under. Kuhn (1963) recognizes that the scientific fields of physics, chemistry, astronomy, and biology all are paradigmatic. Illustrative in physics is Newton’s Principia and his Laws of Motion, in chemistry there is Lavoisier and atomic theory, and in biology there is Darwin’s theory of evolution via natural selection (Locurto, 2013; Kuhn, 1963). Psychology has not experienced anything comparable to what the laws of motion have done for physics, what atomic theory has done for chemistry, and what evolution has done for biology. Furthermore, the chances of a paradigm arising in psychology are very slim. The downfalls of the many fields of study in psychology’s history serve as a precursor to psychology being unable to become a paradigmatic science.
The first field of psychology that failed to develop as a paradigm was defined as introspection, introduced be Wilhelm Wundt in 1879. Wundt’s system of psychology worked under the assumption that all the working things of the mind could be revealed by internal perception, or introspection, and that conscious processes can be analyzed into their elements (Locurto, 2013). A criticism of Wundt’s idea of introspection, which closely became associated to a principle idea of structuralism, was provided by a philosopher, Immanuel Kant. Kant stated that any attempt to report consciousness necessarily alters it because it introduces an observation variable into the content of conscious experience (Locurto, 2013). Another individual whose findings debunked the validity of Wundt’s idea of introspection was Oswald Kulpe. Generally, Kulpe’s lab asked subjects to perform more complex behaviors and report after the fact their conscious experiences. It was in these instances that they reported a lack of images associated with problem solution (Locurto, 2013). Kulpe found that subjects could not state how they made their judgments. This suggested that it was far more difficult to pin down the contents of the mind (Locurto, 2013). As a result of not being globally accepted, Wundt’s theory of introspection was dismissed and failed to serve a paradigm for psychology.
One of the next major fields of psychology was introduced by American psychologist, William James. William James wrote the first American introductory psychology textbook, Principles of Psychology, in 1890 (Locurto, 2013). William James, influenced by...

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