top of page

Psychology 371
History & Systems of Psychology

FALL, 2015 - McAndrew: Period 3S TTH - Room A-219 SMC



Readings in the History and Systems of Psychology, 2nd Ed. (Brennan, 1998)

Three Psychologies, 6th Ed. (Nye, 2000)

Multiple Assigned Readings downloadable from this web page


 Contact Information:

Frank McAndrew, E-131 SMC, Ext. 7525


Psychology Department Web Page

Psychology Department Writing Policy


History and Systems of Psychology: An Introduction to the Course

Instead of reading a standard textbook and covering almost every detail of the history of the field, we will focus on "primary sources." In other words, instead of reading about the people and ideas that make up psychology's history, as much as possible we will read the original works of these individuals and discuss what they have to say. This may make for more difficult reading, but it will also give us an opportunity for discussion that is lacking in a straight lecture course.


I will attempt to conduct the class along the lines of a "preceptorial" with an emphasis on discussion rather than lecture, although I have set aside a few "lecture days" this term. We will be reading words written in different times and places, often by people with worldviews profoundly different from our own.


I make no pretense that we will be able to cover everything that is important in the history of our field. We will, however, do our best to hit most of the high spots. The history of psychology is primarily the history of people arguing over a set of questions about human nature that has been around since there have been people. This term, we will follow these arguments throughout time and hopefully discover how our current beliefs have been shaped by the debates that have come before us.


Some of the major questions that we will encounter over and over in this course are as follows:

Is there such a thing as the "mind," and if so, how does it relate to the physical body?

How are humans related to other animals?

Is there free will or is human behavior determined?

Can mental events be studied scientifically?

What makes us what we are? Nature or Nurture? Heredity or environment?

What is the best way to study human beings? Objectively or subjectively? Qualitatively or Quantitatively? Looking for general principles of behavior or attempting to understand individuals as persons?

To what extent to we need to understand biology in order to understand human nature?

How rational is human thought and behavior?


Your learning will be assessed by the quality of the written work that you hand in and by your performance in class as measured by participation and quizzes. 


Every course that you take is designed to help you acquire knowledge and skills.  The departmental learning goals & competencies assessed in this course include the following:

1) Understand the basic theoretical approaches and classic empirical findings of psychology

2) Effectively communicate with clear, grammatically correct writing.

Three Papers:
Paper #1 = 15% of final grade
Paper #2 = 20% of final grade
Paper #3 = 25% of final grade

Weekly Quizzes: 20% of Final Grade

Class Participation: 20% of final grade.

Attendance will be taken each class. It is not necessary to speak every day, but meaningful participation on a regular basis throughout the term will be the basis for the class participation grade.


Part I: Classical & Medieval Roots of Modern Psychology

Thursday, September 10 - Introduction to the course; Introduction to persistent questions in the history of psychology.

Tuesday, September 15 - Introduction to Classical Roots of Psychology - Readings #2 & #3 in Brennan

(Plato & Aristotle); Plato's "Allegory of the Cave"
See a video interpretation of the Allegory of the Cave done by students at American University

Plato, Aristotle, Christianity, & Knowledge


Thursday, September 17 - Quiz; Lecture on Medieval & Renaissance Roots of Psychology

(Readings #4 (St. Augustine) & #5 (St. Thomas Aquinas) in Brennan)



Tuesday, September 22 - Catch Up Day; Discuss Papers

Wednesday, September 23 - Paper #1 is Due.

Part II: Post-Renaissance Philosophy and the Rise of Modern Systems of Psychology

Thursday, September 24 - Reading #6 in Brennan (Descartes); Quiz

Tuesday, September 29 - Sensationalism & Materialism: (Reading #8 in Brennan (de Condillac)

Thursday, October 1 - Quiz; Empiricism vs. Rationalism: (Readings #9 (Locke) & #11(Kant) in Brennan)

Tuesday, October 6 - Voluntarism & Structuralism: (Reading #12 in Brennan (Wundt))

Thursday, October 8 - Catch-Up Day

Tuesday, October 13 - Quiz; Functionalism: (Readings #14 (James) & #16( Angell) in Brennan)

Thursday, October 15 - "The Measurement of Human Abilities;" "Alfred Binet and the Study of Intelligence"

Tuesday, October 20  - Quiz; Behaviorism: (Readings #20, #22 in Brennan (Watson, Skinner))

Thursday, October 22 - Behaviorism continued; (Chapter 3 in Nye); "A case history in scientific method" by Skinner

Monday, October 26 - Paper #2 is Due

Part III: Challenges to the Dominant Worldviews in Modern Psychology.

Tuesday, October 27 - Quiz; Introduction to the history of treating mental illness:

(Reading on "Emil Kraepelin" & "The Divided Self" by R.D. Laing)

Thursday, October 29 - Quiz; Psychoanalysis; (Reading #18 (Freud) in Brennan; Chapter 2 in Nye)

Tuesday, November 3 - Introduction to Third-Force Psychology; "Toward a Psychology of Health" by Maslow

Thursday, November 5 - Quiz; Chapter 4 in Nye; "What it means to become a person" by Rogers

Tuesday, November 10 - The Cognitive Revolution and the Rise of Evolutionary Psychology;
                                          "The Impact and Promise of the Cognitive Revolution" by Sperry;
           "Evolutionary Psychology: New Perspectives on Cognition and Motivation(pp. 201-205)" by
Cosmides & Tooby.

Thursday, November 12 - Discuss papers; Catch-Up Day

Monday, November 16 - Paper #3 is Due

To see the PPT slides used in this course, click on the picture of the overhead projector.  Click on the other photo to see the original documentary of Milgram's Obedience Experiments.
bottom of page