Women In Psychology Essay

1558 words - 7 pages

History without context is little more than the recitation of unrelated events, and history without specific events is little more than a fanciful narrative; therefore, history exists as an interrelated duality between specific events and context. It is through the eyeglass of this apparent duality that the great accomplishments of science come firmly into view and the haziness of opinion and speculation are carried out of focus. Accordingly, Mary Whiton Calkins's life and research is best understood within the context of her upbringing and the zeitgeist of the time towards women, within the framework of self observation, the method of natural science, and associationism; and as the original ...view middle of the document...

This latter expectation brought with it the first gender-related shut-door to her academic succession and coincidentally, in the end, the key to unlock that door. Despite not being officially a student, Calkins completed a year of studies at Clark University and Harvard, which satisfied Wellesley's requirements. It was a man by the name of Edmund Sanford that is most credited with her partial acceptance into Harvard as an unofficial "guest". Calkins also later acknowledged that Sanford was most responsible for the psychology lab that was subsequently set up at Wellesley; volunteering his time, advice, and apparatus. However, while at Harvard Calkins was afforded the occasion to learn alongside and under the tutelage of William James as well. Additionally, after her one-year of psychology instruction she was able to work in William James's lab at Harvard for an additional two years. During this added two years she was able to complete her doctoral thesis consisting of a series of experimental studies on association. Surprisingly, Calkins continued her professorship at Wellesley College during these years, while still maintaining a presence in the labs at Harvard 10 miles away. During these and successive years of study and academic advancement Calkins documented and analyzed a wide variety of psychological and sensory phenomena. Coincidentally, she was never awarded a Ph.D. from Harvard or Clark, but she was elected president of both the American Psychological Association and the American Philosophical Association in later years. She remained at Wellesley the rest of her academic career, retiring in 1929, and dying shortly thereafter. During her academic life Calkins added significantly to the body of knowledge in the fields of both psychology and philosophy. Still, before her specific contributions to psychology can be considered the theoretical framework of her predecessors and how their perspectives affected her own work in human behavior and sensory perception must be taken into account.
The grass is green. The sky is blue. The ground is hard. The tree is tall. It is no deep mystery that we store memories through associations such as green-grass, blue-sky, hard-ground, etc… The great unknown however is exactly how the associations work and how memory affects those associations. Of particular interest to many psychologists is the manner and method by which we flesh out these rules of association. William James, a contemporary and colleague of Calkins, proposed that self-observation by means of introspection was the only way to find these answers. The great downfall of this method is that it is impossible to simultaneously create memories and introspect memories. Therefore, the aforementioned associations, according to James, can only be accessed through the filter of our memories. A further difficulty is that there is no way to scientifically verify personal introspection, thereby moving psychology into the realm of personal belief and...

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