The application of psychology: conceptual and socio-political underpinnings

First psychology lab (1879)

- Wundt (1832-1920) took psychology from a mixture of philosophy and biology and made it a unique field of study

- Used the scientific method to study mind and behaviour

- Basis research should precede applied research/applications

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Conceptual Underpinnings of early applied psycholo

Functionalism e.g. William James

Mind is for adaptation to the environment - psychology as pragmatic; contrast with goals of structuralism


Analysis of behaviour/performance in a setting/task into essential underlying mental capacties (allied to structualism)


Analysis of mental processes involved in the given setting/task itself (allied to functionalism)

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Early applications of psychology: hugo munsterberg

Context: German ideology - american society characterised by lack of respect for authority - offered german culture and new sicence of psychology - psychology in place of a monarchy

father of forensic psychology

- argued against reliance of eye witness testimony - staged demonstrations of assualts during classes - warned against the blind confidence in the observations of the average man

contributions to psychotherapy

mental illness: saw patients, wrote book: psychotherapy (1909): to dispel myths about mental illness/ to challenge psychoanalyis

pioneer of human factors

psychology and industrial efficiency (1913) - telephone switchboard operators - analytic approach - boston street railway motormen - synthetic approach

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The experimental study of vigilance

the capacity to sustain attention - decrement in the ability to detect rare signals over time

vigilance in radar operators

- radar operators: targets difficult to discrimnate from background noise, very few targets - long periods of isolated work in darkened rooms - efficiency could drop 80% over a 40min watch

- the clock test: monitor for rare double jumps of a rotating black pointer

differnet measures of vigilance performance

- early studies focued on detection rate

vigilance research and signal detection theory (SDT) two scores could now be derieved: d- reflecting a person's sensitivity to a signal, B(beta) reflecting the level of evidence at which the observer is willing to report a signal (reflects person's confidence/conservatism)

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The cambrisge cockpit: key findings

Performance of skilled pilots in a simulator for >2 hours:

- control of aircraft deteriorated 50% over the 2 hours

-deterioration in the timing and sequence of actions

-decrease in aspirations

-marked attentional lapses for peripheral activities relying on working memory

- loss of task integration

- impairment of skills occured in the reverse order to that in which they were learned

- subjective changes

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the legacy of early human factors

theoretical and conceptual:

- practical utility of SDT

- insight into nature of sustained, selective and divided attention, working memory

- pre-empted cognitive psychology

impact on the real world

- air traffic control

- aviation

- transport

- medicine

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impact of world war 1

- 25% of members of teh APA served in WW1

- 12 committees of APA dedicated to helping the war effort e.g.

a) evaluation of perception in prospective air servicemen mental states under low oxygen pressure

b) personnal selection: intelligence and aptitude testing

c) diagnosis and treatment of war psychoses/shellshock

- sudden need for more clincial psychologists

- new fighting techniques of WW1 put immense mental strain on soldiers

- the impact of shellshock

- US joins - offers intensice course in treatment of mental disorders to all medical officers; clincial psychologists also recruited

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Impact of world war 2

Beginning of client-centered psychology

- rising demand for psychological help due to WW2 catalysed new therapies

- psychoanalysis - required many sessions; effectiveness unclear

- client led searching for solutions by talking through problems with a sympathetic, supportive therapist

- 1942: carl rogers publishes counselling and psychotherapy

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Post World War 2

Three key developments after WW2 that faciliated the rise of clincial psychology

- antipsychiatry:60s-70s cultural movement - psychiatry began to be criticised as a thief of individual expression; to be demeaning and dangerous, invasive - some of the reasons for antipsychiatry; lobotomy - severing of nerve fibres connecting the frontal and pre-frontal cortex to the rest of the brain / ice-pick lobotomy: ice pick inserted after local anaesthetic, no need for hospitalisation, production line/ electroshocks (ECT): 100 volts through electrodes placed bilaterally or unilaterally, 3x a week for 2-7 weeks, muscle relaxants now used to prevent physical injury still used for depression today - exposed through literature - political tool -more respect for rights of patients

- input from scientific research into psychotherapy: empirical evaluation of efficiency of therapies: 1952 wake up call, Eysenck's review of efficacy of talking cures not encouraging, gave rise to more efficacy research

- development of psychoactive drugs: psychiatiests lowered their resistance to non-psychiatiests treating patients through pyschotherapy, why? psychology pressure groups, psychiatists increasingly turned to medicines to treat mental disorders

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social management and individualisation

since 16th century authorities increasingly replacing family for the control of socail deviants or those not able to maintain themselves

20th century:  the welfare state - taxed-based state services

reliance on mental health services grew because

- people wanted professional help

- social mobility led to social relationships being limited to workplaces and hence non-confiding

- growing individualism

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increased knowledge of clinical psychology in the

late 20th to present day: knowledge of clinical psychology pervasive in society

integrated into mainsream professinal training

becoming part of common knowledge via popular media and manifest in day-to-day language: extrovert, neurotic, depressed, paranoid, addicted, deluded, stressed, traumatised

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