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  • 1. Psychology is the study of mind and behaviour. Its roots lie in philosophy and science, but it has developed over the years to become the subject we know today. This timeline highlights some of the key moments and discoveries in the history of Psychology, as well as many theories and studies that make up the A Level Specification. Such discoveries have not only had an impact on Psychology, but also on our everyday lives. Psychology has changed in many ways since the first studies in 1875 and it continues to evolve today. To find out more you can visit the British Psychological Society Origins site: http://origins.bps.org.uk/ Or follow them on twitter @BPSOfficial .
  • 2. “When the mind is thinking it is talking to itself” Plato suggested that the brain is the mechanism of mental processes
  • 3. Franz Mesmer detailed his cure for some mental illness, originally called mesmerism and now known as hypnosis
  • 4. Philippe Pinel released the first mental patients from confinement in the first massive movement for more humane treatment of the mentally ill
  • 5. Franz Gall wrote about phrenology (the idea that a person's skull shape and placement of bumps on the head can reveal personality traits
  • 6. Phineas Gage survives significant injuries when a tamping iron is driven through his head although he experiences significant changes in his personality. This was the first case in which a direct link was drawn between brain damage and personality change.
  • 7. Charles Darwin published the On the Origin of Species, detailing his view of evolution and expanding on the theory of 'Survival of the Fittest.'
  • 8. Sir Francis Galton’s classic, Hereditary Genius is published. Galton first used the terms nature and nurture to describe genetic factors versus environmental factors
  • 9. Willhelm Wundt has a room set aside at Leipzig University for undertaking psychological experiments. This is often acknowledged as the point at which psychology became a discipline in its own right.
  • 10. Freud first uses the term ‘psychoanalysis’ in his paper Further Remarks on the Neuro-Psychoses of Defense. While much of Freud’s work is controversial and criticised for a lack of empiricism, the influence of Freud on the development of ‘talking therapies’ is significant. “Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.”
  • 11. The Psychological Society was founded on 24 October 1901 at University College London. Its aim was ‘to advance scientific psychological research, and to further the co- operation of investigators in the various branches of Psychology.’
  • 12. Ivan Pavlov first described classical conditioning. This was a key discovery in the behaviourist psychological approach and has a number of applications in psychology such as addiction treatments
  • 13. Electroconvulsive therapy is used for the first time on a person. It becomes a popular method of treatment throughout the 40s and 50s (and remains in use today)
  • 14. “If freedom is a requisite for human happiness, then all that‟s necessary is to provide the illusion of freedom.” Skinner The Behavior of Organisms: An Experimental Analysis outlines the operant conditioning hypothesis. The publication of the book drew attention to behaviourism as a movement and led to an increase in lab experiments in this area, influencing developments in modern psychological therapies such as aversion therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy
  • 15. Psychological Review publishes ‘A theory of human motivation’ by Abraham Maslow in which he described the ‘hierarchy of needs’. Starting with basic physiological needs the hierarchy continues up through various social and emotional needs to the pinnacle, that being ‘self-actualization’ where a person has reached and achieved their potential.
  • 16. Solomon Asch conducts the first of his experiments on conformity in groups. Asch’s work was important in our understanding of how people behave in social situations, It inspired some of the greatest (and most controversial) psychology experiments of our time including Milgram’s (a student of Asch) studies of obedience and Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment
  • 17. Harry Harlow presents „The Nature of Love‟ where he describes his findings on comfort deprivation on rhesus monkeys. The controversial experiments whereby rhesus monkeys were separated from their mothers and provided with a ‘wire mother’ or a ‘cloth mother’ demonstrated the importance of comfort from the mother in forming attachments
  • 18. Gibson & Walk carry out research into the depth perception of infants and animals, using the ingenious visual cliff
  • 19. Bandura et al. publish ‘Transmission of aggression through imitation of aggressive models’ The study raised questions about learning and modelling behaviours and links to many subsequent studies carried out on the effects of television and gaming as well as extending the behaviourism school of thought
  • 20. “It may be that we are puppets-puppets controlled by the strings of society. But at least we are puppets with perception, with awareness. And perhaps our awareness is the first step to our liberation” Stanley Milgram’s infamous experiment ‘Behavioural study of obedience’ is published. Influenced by the events of the Nazi Holocaust, the study led Milgram to conclude that behaviour is less likely to be influenced by personal conscience than by the situation they find themselves in.
  • 21. Aaron Beck published a psychological model of depression suggesting that thoughts play a significant role in the development and maintenance of depression
  • 22. Gardner and Gardner attempt to teach Washoe, the chimpanzee, to communicate using sign language
  • 23. Rahe investigates the relationship between stressful life events and rates of illness on board 3 US Navy Ships
  • 24. “If you put good apples into a bad situation, you‟ll get bad apples.” Philip Zimbardo conducts the notorious Stanford prison experiment. He concluded that the roles assigned to people in certain situations have a significant impact on their behaviour, perhaps more so than their personal beliefs about right and wrong.
  • 25. Rosenhan publishes his study on ‘Being Sane in Insane Places’, demonstrating that psychiatric hospitals were unable to identify those faking the symptoms of mental illness
  • 26. Loftus and Palmer publish studies highlighting the fallibility of eyewitness testimony and suggestibility in the face of ‘leading’ questioning. These led to significant changes in the criminal justice system in terms of convicting on eyewitness testimony alone, particularly on the basis of one person’s evidence
  • 27. Langer and Rodin investigate how the lives of the elderly are affected by giving them more control over decisions in their life
  • 28. The British Psychological Society publishes its first ethical principles for research with human subjects to attempt to provide a guideline framework for psychological research.
  • 29. Bennett Levy and Marteau research evolutionary explanations of phobias, suggesting that phobias of animals such as spiders are linked to their appearance and other characteristics such as their movements
  • 30. Baron-Cohen et al publish research to support the hypothesis that children with autism lack a ‘theory of mind’, i.e. they are unable to understand and detect the mental states of others. The study used the ‘Sally-Ann story’ and identified a cognitive deficit that was specific to autism, marking a breakthrough in this area of research
  • 31. Buss carries out his study into the mate preferences of men and women across 37 cultures. His results support key principles of evolutionary psychology, suggesting that mate preferences have adapted to help enhance reproductive success
  • 32. The Oxford Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain was opened. fMRI scanning furthered discoveries of brain functionality made by PET scanning in the 1980s, greatly increasing our understanding of the brain