Discuss How Psychology Developed as a Scientific Discipline

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Discuss how psychology developed as a scientific discipline

Prior to psychology being recognised as a scientific discipline in its own right, it was mainly a philosophical concept developed by theorists in areas such as animism and dualism. However, these philosophies were not based on objectivity unlike today’s psychology which maintains that for an investigation to be deemed scientific it must be based on the scientific method, which involves gathering empirical and measurable evidence. A key figure in the development of psychology as a science is René Descartes; a French philosopher and mathematician. Descartes was most influential in his recognition of the body and mind being two separate entities. Descartes differed from other philosophers in his proposal of dualism as he recognised that there is interaction between mind and matter, which was key in the development of psychology as a science as it lead to two principles in psychology: introspectionism and behaviourism. Whilst Descartes emphasised rationalism, John Locke believed empiricism should be the preferred method of investigation, involving the pursuit of truth through observation and experience (Martin, Carlson, Buskist, 2010, pg. 22). Locke held that some of the information we receive through our senses is subjective and cannot be trusted – secondary qualities, whereas some can be held as objective and trustworthy – primary qualities. Locke helped develop how today’s psychologists study the human mind and it functions, along with empiricists such as David Hume. Hume followed on from Locke but placed greater emphasis on perceptions, rather than ideas which held greater focus in Locke’s work. Hume was also influential in that he developed positivism; a school of thought within psychology which holds that for an idea to be deemed meaningful it must derive from material which is observable. Hume is also recognised for his work on habit and for his perhaps greatest influence to the...
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