One Page Summaries Of Psychology

July 25, 2009

Sometimes a picture captures summarizes an entire sequence of events. It can act as a quick reminder of a setting, those present, and feelings you experienced.

Similarly, with a subject as broad and complex as psychology, it’s nice to take a quick look at it’s subfields. Each nutshell is a one-page description of a major area of psychology. The idea is to give you a head start. Think of it a quick guide to the who, what and why of each major area of psychology.

Karl Lashley

July 24, 2009


A student of Watson at Johns Hopkins, Karl Lashley more physiologist than psychologist. Best known for his doctrine of “mass action,” Lashley showed that the “brain fields” proposed by Gestalt psychology did not exist. Kohler had held that the brain functions by electrical fields; Lashley short-circuited the “field” by putting silver foil on the cortex and yet the behavior still occurred. [Read more]

Max Wertheimer

July 24, 2009


Born in Prague, Maz Wertheimer studied law and philosophy at the University of Prague, and psychology under Stumpf and Kulpe. Best known for his explanation of the “phi phenomenon” (e.g., the apparent motion made by flashing lights in sequence), Wertheimer was a founder of Gestalt psychology. [Read more]

Charles Darwin

July 24, 2009

Born in Shrewsbury, England, Charles Darwin was the 4th of five children of an upper middle class family. His mother (who died when he was 8) was from a family renown for making chinaware (Wedgewood). His father was a physician and wanted Charles to follow in the family business but had little faith in his son’s ultimate success. [Read more]

Erik Erikson

July 24, 2009

Although Erik Erikson (1902-1994) was born in Frankfurt, Germany, his parents were Danish. His father was Protestant and his mother Jewish. When Erik was in his 30s, he moved to the United States, becoming a citizen in 1936. [Read more]

James McKeen Cattell

July 23, 2009

Born and raised in Easton, Pennsylvania, James McKeen Cattell attended Lafayette College, where his father (a minister) taught Latin and Greek. Following his graduation in 1880, he traveled several times to Europe for further study. In 1883, Cattell received his PhD under Wundt. He also spent a 2 year fellowship at Cambridge with Galton.  [Read more]

Ivan Pavlov

July 23, 2009

Although he won a Nobel prize for his work in explaining the processes of digestion, Ivan Pavlov is best remembered for his discovery of classical conditioning. A physiologist by training and in practice, Pavlov thought psychology was a fad. His explanations of conditioning were pure physiological but they were interpreted by Watson and others as psychological. [Read more]

William McDougall

July 22, 2009


Born in Lancashire, England, William McDougall was a major opponent of Watson’s behaviorism. Trained as a medical doctor, his interest in psychology was sparked by William James. [Read more]

Hermann Ebbinghaus

July 22, 2009

A contemporary of Wundt, Hermann Ebbinghaus experimentally studied and described learning, forgetting, overlearning, and savings. Although he was the first person to publish an article on measuring the intelligence of school children (Binet and Simon used his sentence completion task in their intelligence test), Ebbinghuas is best known for his thorough study of memory and forgetting. His work is widely used and cited by cognitive psychologists today.  [Read more]

Jean Piaget

July 22, 2009

Born and raised in Neuchatel, Switzerland, Jean Piaget was always interested in biology and zoology. After earning his Ph.D. in biology, he became interested in psychology, particularly in how cognition develops. While working for Binet at the Sorbonne, Piaget noticed that children don’t solve problems like adults do. Children are not miniature adults but have their own distinctive style of thinking which develops in stages. [Read more]

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