Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Two important influences emerged in the late 19th century and they are the emergence of understanding brain function and the influence of hereditary. Francis Galton de - EssayAbode

Two important influences emerged in the late 19th century and they are the emergence of understanding brain function and the influence of hereditary. Francis Galton de


Two important influences emerged in the late 19th century and they are the emergence of understanding brain function and the influence of hereditary. Francis Galton described human intelligence as being associated with social stature. For instance, it was thought someone with a family background of royalty, science, and medicine would breed more persons of genius than an individual of lower social status. Galton's ideas were in part developed due to his cousin's work on understanding evolution. That cousin was none other than Charles Darwin. Psychology as a science was just beginning at this time with little unification on not only understanding behavior but how to even go about studying it.

  • Explain the rationale behind Galton's ideas regarding heredity. From current understandings of hereditary traits, genetics and human behavior explain the major issues regarding Galton's work.
  • Why did the ideas of Darwin and others like him have a prominent influence on psychology at the time? Explain the strengths and weaknesses of evolution and natural selection with regard to social theory and psychology.
  • What were the differences and similarities between Wundt and Titchener’s structuralism and Act psychology? Explain why the psychology of Wundt, and especially Titchener, did not last.

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Response 1

The late 19th century marked a pivotal era in the development of modern psychology, characterized by an exploration into the workings of the mind and behavior. Two significant influences during this time period were the burgeoning understanding of brain function and the role of heredity. Francis Galton, a prominent figure of the time, posited that human intelligence was linked to social status, suggesting that those from esteemed backgrounds such as royalty, science, or medicine were more likely to produce offspring of genius compared to individuals of lower standing.

Galton’s rationale behind linking heredity to intelligence stemmed from his observations of prominent families where intellectual prowess seemed to be passed down through generations. This idea was influenced by the work of his cousin, Charles Darwin, who introduced the concept of evolution. Galton extended Darwin’s evolutionary theory to suggest that just as physical traits were subject to natural selection, so too were mental capabilities. He believed that societal advancement could be achieved by encouraging the reproduction of individuals with desirable traits, a notion that later evolved into the controversial field of eugenics.

From our current understanding of genetics and human behavior, several issues arise regarding Galton’s work. Modern research indicates that while genetics play a role in determining certain aspects of intelligence, environmental factors, and individual experiences are equally crucial. Intelligence is now understood to be a complex trait influenced by multiple genes and is not solely determined by lineage or social class. 

Darwin’s ideas had a profound influence on psychology because they provided a scientific framework for understanding behavior and mental processes as products of evolutionary pressures. The strengths of applying evolution and natural selection to social theory and psychology lie in their ability to explain adaptive behaviors and cognitive functions that have developed over time. However, the weaknesses become apparent when these theories are used to justify social hierarchies or discriminatory practices based on presumed biological superiority.

The emergence of structuralism, championed by Wilhelm Wundt and Edward Titchener, brought forth a systematic approach to studying consciousness through introspection. Structuralism aims to break down mental processes into their most basic elements. In contrast, Act Psychology, associated with Franz Brentano, emphasized the unity of consciousness and intentionality, focusing on mental activities rather than static components. 

While both Wundt and Titchener sought to dissect the structure of the mind, Wundt placed greater emphasis on the cultural and linguistic context of thought processes, whereas Titchener was more focused on identifying the fundamental sensory components of consciousness. Despite their differences, both schools of thought shared a commitment to establishing psychology as a rigorous scientific discipline.

The decline of structuralism, particularly Titchener’s vision, can be attributed to its limitations in methodology, and scope. Introspection, as a primary tool, proved to be subjective and difficult to verify. Additionally, the narrow focus on the elements of consciousness failed to account for the complexity of human behavior and the influence of the environment. As psychology progressed, new perspectives that addressed these shortcomings began to take precedence, leading to the diversification of the field.

In conclusion, the late 19th century was a formative period for psychology, with heredity and evolutionary theory leaving an indelible mark on the discipline. While Galton’s ideas on intelligence and social class have been largely discredited, the influence of Darwin’s evolutionary principles continues to resonate. The transition away from structuralism paved the way for more holistic and empirically robust approaches to understanding the human mind and behavior.

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