Applied History of Psychology

Welcome to our Applied History of Psychology Wikibook. This project was the result of a graduate course in History and Systems in Psychology, HDP 3204 intersession class 2007 at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT). This book represents a history of psychology—not the only one and certainly not a complete one, but definitely an interesting one and one that represents the varied interests of the students in this particular class. We hope you enjoy it and find it useful.

The initial structure of this book emerged out of our individual interests, prior knowledge, and research contributions to this course. We first briefly acknowledge early thinkers that influenced the development of the discipline of psychology (Part I). Then, we address the history of various areas of inquiry that are highly relevant to our work. These broad areas include developmental theories (Part II), the field of intelligence and assessment (Part III), as well as the various approaches to understanding and treating psychological difficulties (IV). Finally, we also created a special topic section to provide space for particular topics that can "stand on their own." (Part V).

We welcome your comments, additions, and contributions. We invite you to consult our Introduction for more information.


Provides a brief overview and introduction to our Wikibook, including our guiding question.

Part I: Early Contributions to the Field of Psychology

This section starts from approximately 600 BC and takes us through to the development of Psychology as a Science. Some thinkers discussed include Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Gall, Mesmer, and Wundt.

  1. Philosophical Roots of Psychology  
    Reviews some of the thinking put forth by Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hobbes, and Locke.
  2. Pseudoscientific Schools of Thought  
    Reviews some of the theories and practices of Franz Anton Mesmer and includes brief mention of Franz Joseph Gall.
  3. Establishment of the Field  
    Contains a very brief history of Wilhem Maximilian Wundt, including some of his ideas and methods.

Part II: Models of Development

  1. Conceptualization of childhood  
    Reviews models of human development and how the concept of "childhood" has changed throughout history.
  2. Attachment  
    Reviews the development of attachment theory, from the early work of Lorenz and Harlow, continuing to the work of Bowbly and Ainsworth.
  3. Personality  
    Reviews Freud’s well-known Psychosexual Theory of Development. Karen Horney’s contributions to the field of personality development and her criticisms of Freud are presented as an alternative.
  4. Cognitive Development  
    Reviews the Piagetian Model of Children's Thinking and its criticisms. Lev Vygotsky’s theory of Sociocultural Development is presented as an alternative to Jean Piaget’s work.
  5. Social Development  
    Reviews Erickson's life span development stage theory as well as contributions to and criticisms of his theory.
  6. Moral Development  
    Reviews Kohlberg and Gilligan's theories of moral development in children.
  7. Controversies  
    Discusses some of developmental psychology's longstanding questions and controversies, such as the issue of ‘active’ or ‘passive’ development, continuity of human development versus development in stages, and the nature/nurture debate.

Part III: Models of Learning, Intelligence and Assessment

  1. Learning Theories  
    Reviews the development of Learning Theory from Watson to Pavlov's classical conditioning, Skinner's operant conditioning, and finally, Bandura's Social Learning Theory.
  2. Theories on Intelligence  
    Reviews Gardner's Multiple Intelligence Theory, Sternberg's Triarchic Theory of Human Intelligence, Spearman's work, emotional intelligence, dynamic assessment and cross-battery assessment.
  3. Models of Assessment  
    Briefly reviews the history of psychological testing, provides a timeline of early milestones in the history of testing, and discusses heredity, historiometry, and eugenics, as well as intelligence testing, personality testing, and interest inventories.

Part IV: "Mental Disorders": Identification, Treatment and Controversies

  1. DSM and Other Diagnostic Systems  
    Reviews a brief history and introduction to the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual for Psychiatric Disorders (DSM), the utility of the DSM, validity and reliability issues, stigma and damage of labelling, critical issues and other diagnostic systems.
  2. Clinical Treatment  
    Reviews several types of psychotherapy including Psychodynamic Therapy, Client Centred Therapy, Cognitive and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Existential Therapy, Group Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Mindfulness Based Therapy, Emotion-Focused Therapy, and Solution Focused Brief Therapy. Treatment Effectiveness and Psychopharmacology are also touched upon.
  3. Specific Disorders  
    Introduces perspectives on psychological trauma and reviews the history, treatment, and assessment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

Part V: Special Topics

  1. History of Research on Attention  
    Reviews the history of research on attention and human information processing, focusing on major contributors in this area including John Ridley Stroop, Donald Broadbent, and Anne Treisman.