Psychology as an Academin Field Research Paper

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Psychology is both an academic discipline and a profession. The concept of psyche originates from the Greek language and is frequently translated as ‘soul.’ The term has been used in religious and philosophical treatises since the antiquities, before an academic discipline explicitly designated as psychology was established in the sixteenth century. Until the nineteenth century, psychology was a special field within philosophy. During the first half of the twentieth century, it was institutionalized in universities as an independent science. In the second half of the century, an increasing number of positions for university graduates with a degree in psychology were provided in public service, business organizations, and private practice. Today, there are approximately 300,000 scientifically qualified psychologists worldwide, most of whom are employed outside academic institutions. Although psychology often presents itself as a unitary field, it comprises a considerable diversity of domains, theories, and methods. Despite its independent status, psychology shares historical roots and current concerns with other disciplines and professions. Both the ramifications of psychology into diverse branches and its position among related disciplines and professions will be outlined in turn.

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1. Conceptions And Fields (‘Psychologies’) Within Psychology

The soul was conceived as the principle which distinguishes the living body from the dead and manifests itself in consciousness and movement, or mind and Behavior. The soul and its mental and Behavioral manifestations have been studied from various perspectives. The paradigmatic perspective emphasizes theoretical and methodological principles and affiliations to ‘schools.’ The universal perspective seeks for knowledge that is valid for the human species, or even all vertebrates endowed with intelligence and mobility. In contrast, the differential perspective explores the variations occurring within and between species. In the analytical perspective, researchers refine the existing knowledge by discovering ever more details, while adherents of the holistic perspective endeavor to comprehend higher-order structures. The theoretical perspective calls for the description, classification, and causal explanation of mental and Behavioral phenomena. The pragmatic perspective views the soul as the source of happiness, sociability, and efficiency, and raises questions of utility and morale.

Specialized research programs and practical applications have emerged from these perspectives. They have been institutionalized as curricular units, classifications for books and journals, and as divisions within and between scientific and professional associations. Some programs have competed for dominance and presented themselves as complementary ‘psychologies’ within psychology.

1.1 Paradigmatic: The Three Major Schools

Scientific paradigms are defined by their explanatory principles, the concomitant concepts and terms, and their preferred methods and values. They are established and maintained by a community of scientists that endorse one and only one paradigm. Modern psychology has spawned three major theoretical paradigms: cognitivism, Behaviorism, and depth psychology, all of which continue longstanding philosophical traditions.

In the tradition of rational philosophy, cognitivism regards human beings as reasonable, conscious, reflexive, and self-organizing. In this view, each person is endowed with insight into natural, logical, and social laws, and may utilize their free will and foresight to plan and execute actions directed towards valued goals. Moreover, humans are seen as sociable and communicative. Language is a tool for representing imaginations and intentions both in a person’s own mind and in his or her interaction with others. Authors with a cognitive orientation (e.g., Broadbent, Kohler, Piaget) rely on introspection and self-reports (e.g., think-aloud protocols in studies of problem solving), but also collect Behavioral data (e.g., operations in the course of problem solving). Typically, cognitivistic studies employ methods from mathematics, physics (e.g., field theory), or engineering (e.g., information theory) to elucidate the intricacies of mind and Behavior.

In the tradition of materialism and utilitarianism, Behaviorism (in Russia: reflexology) focuses on overt Behavior (e.g., locomotion, instrumental acts) elicited by external stimuli (e.g., color signals) and internal stimuli (e.g., thirst), or emitted to take advantage of opportunities in the natural and social environment (e.g., food, praise). According to this conception, a human being is an automaton capable of forming stimulus-response associations (habits) and of adapting to contingencies between acts and their rewards or punishments (reinforcements). Behaviorism assumes innate, species-specific habits, or instincts (e.g., mating). Authors such as Hull, Pavlov, and Skinner have studied the acquisition of new habits and the shaping of Behavior by reinforcements. Orthodox Behaviorism opposes introspection, and relies exclusively on objective Behavioral data.

In the tradition of mysticism, depth psychology posits a pervading influence of unconscious ideas and affects on conscious thought, language, and action. Freud’s psychoanalysis, the most popular paradigm within depth psychology, contends that the unconscious originates from personal conflicts in early childhood when anxiety-provoking tendencies (primarily hostility towards the parent of opposite sex) are repressed and rejected from the conscious mind. In his analytical psychology, Jung even postulates an innate, species-specific unconscious consisting of archetypes. These archetypes are explained as fundamental experiences (e.g., motherhood, fire) which have been acquired and transmitted over generations. Depth psychology believes in the power of the enlightened human mind to reveal unconscious contents. However, the revelation of unconscious contents requires skillful interpretations. Beyond straightforward observations, interpretations should offer explanations for the meaning of symbols from the unconscious (e.g., the moon as a symbol of femininity) which are encountered in dreams and other fantasies, as well as in achievements (e.g., in the arts) and failures (e.g., slips of the tongue).

The three major theoretical paradigms gained wide recognition during the first half of the twentieth century; they were also engaged in mutual antagonisms. However, no final verdict has been reached in the battles for dominance. There were some partially successful attempts to reconcile the conflicting paradigms. At present, conflicts between ‘schools’ have attenuated and orthodoxy has been superseded by eclecticism. For instance, numerous Behaviorists now regard cognitions (e.g., attitudes and beliefs) as determinants of Behavior, despite their subjective nature, while cognitive theorists accept the notion of unconscious ideas (e.g., subliminal perceptions).

1.2 Universal, Analytic: General Psychology, Biological Psychology

General psychology investigates universal and basic features of mind and Behavior. Originally, it was launched in the spirit of philosophical idealism that acknowledged as scientific only universal and basic statements probing into the essence of matters. Ever since, general psychology has continued the quest for invariances and fundamental notions. It has predominantly pursued four objectives:

(a) Taxonomies. Cognitive functions have been categorized as sensation and perception, imagination and memory, concept formation, reasoning, problem solving, and language. Similarly, Behavioral functions were classified as motives, drives, intentions, emotions, motor patterns, and actions.

(b) Structural analysis. Both cognitive and Behavioral structures have been researched extensively. An example is semantic networks, that is, organizations of concepts representing domains of knowledge (e.g., automobiles), and action sequences (e.g., mountain climbing).

(c) Functional analysis; that is, the elaboration of the conditions which enable, prevent, and modify cognitive and Behavioral processes and their outcomes (e.g., task complexity as a condition of learning).

(d) Formal (e.g., mathematical) models. General psychology designs models of internal mechanisms underlying psychic phenomena (e.g., the model of working memory). These models also serve to explain the effects of salient conditions.

In pursuit of these four objectives, general psychology is striving for progressive refinement. For structural and conditional analyses as well as for tests of formal models, experimental methods have become indispensable. Therefore, general psychology is sometimes equated with experimental psychology.

General psychology can be extended to encompass the exploration of the biological bases of cognitive and Behavioral phenomena—the domain of biological psychology. Using advanced measurement techniques, biological psychology locates and monitors mechanisms and processes of the brain, the peripheral nervous system, the endocrine glands, and other physiological systems which constitute the biological substrate of psychological functions such as language, memory, perception, and emotion, and which mediate cognitive and motivational states such as wakefulness and anxiousness.

1.3 Differential, Analytic: Animal, Developmental, Social Psychology, Individual Differences

Since the eighteenth century, the monopoly of general psychology has been challenged by romanticism, which emphasized the principle of organic growth in the natural world and in cultural settings, and by evolution theory (Darwinism). Both movements viewed variation as a fundamental natural principle. Romanticism and evolution theory provided the intellectual climate for the emergence of new psychological approaches that made variations their object of study:

(a) Animal psychology, also designated as comparative psychology, compared the Behavior and the intelligence of species, including humankind. Much of this work was based on the assumption of a mental evolution (i.e., a gradual increase in intelligence from lower animals to humans), and a Behavioral evolution (primary instincts like love or hate, transmitted from prehistoric man to modern-day humans, and secondary instincts acquired individually).

(b) Child psychology commenced with the study of mental and Behavioral changes in humans during the first years of life, and was later extended to developmental psychology covering the whole life-span. In the beginning, child psychology frequently had an evolutionary background, since child development was interpreted as a replication of the evolution of the human species. Subsequently, evolution theory lost its major impact, and the study of human development continued with a generic interest in the changes that occur during people’s lives.

(c) Social psychology documented and reflected the variations in cognitions, habits, and rules that are attributable to culture and social groups within cultures (e.g., the family). It drew cross-cultural comparisons of social structures, above all language, art, customs, power, education, kinship. Favorite topics were the evolution of social structures (social Darwinism) as well as the impact of external (e.g., geographical) factors on social life. Another influential branch was mass psychology that attributed to crowds the loss of rationality. Crowds were described as emotional, expressive, irresponsible, and addicted to charismatic leaders. Finally, social psychology restricted itself to the analysis of three basic issues: social relations (e.g., centralized vs. decentralized groups), social cognitions (e.g., attitudes, stereotypes), and social processes (e.g., communication, group problem solving).

(d) The psychology of individual differences emerged from theories of human faculties, both intellectual (e.g., reasoning) and moral (e.g., altruism). The study of individual differences benefited from sociometrics which assessed frequency distributions of crime, income, etc. in populations. Measures of intelligence, motivation, and performance were found to be distributed as the Gaussian bell-shaped curve with the mean representing the most frequent case. From the genetic point of view, the positions of parents and their offspring in distributions were compared. Obvious correlations between parents and their children could be attributed to hereditary factors. However, sociocultural factors (e.g., educational style) were also examined as causes for transmissions of mental and Behavioral dispositions over generations.

The studies on variations have modified the taxonomies and models from general psychology to account for inter and intra-individual differences. New models were constructed which consider the ontogenetic, phylogenetic, social, and individual factors governing mental and Behavioral variations. Thus, developmental and animal psychology have designed stage models of ontogenetic and phylogenetic changes, and social psychology has developed models of group formation and group cohesion.

Methodologically, differential approaches have con- ducted experiments, but have also collected a large body of data by field observations and surveys (e.g., longitudinal studies in developmental psychology).

1.4 Holistic: Personality Psychology

While human life manifests itself in a diversity of phenomena that vary with social context and over the life-span, the experience of a unitary mind and of consistency in Behavior prevails in human consciousness. Upon this experience the concepts of self and ego are based. These two concepts replace the concept of soul in modern psychology. Self and ego represent an internal system which integrates diverse and even conflicting functions (e.g., inhibition of recollections), developmental stages (e.g., transitional stages from being protected in childhood to assuming responsibility in adulthood), and social roles (e.g., private vs. professional) to establish a sense of personal identity in consciousness and activity.

The unitary structure of mind and the consistency of Behavior are the central issues of personality psychology. The concept of personality originally designated the coherent and integrated organization of persons, reflecting their life-long identity and individuality. Thus far, personality psychology has followed the philosophy of holism, that truth and valuable action can only be attributed to complete, integrated structures. Presently, postmodern approaches question the assumptions of continuous integrality and self-identity. They prefer the assumption of a patchwork personality consisting of discontinuous and even contradictory features (e.g., role conflicts, different attitudes for different settings).

The method of understanding has been advocated as the most useful approach to personality. Understanding has been conceived as a hermeneutic technique that enables direct communication between an observer and his or her object. Adherents of the hermeneutic position have contributed in-depth character studies and biographies. Influential and popular hermeneutic approaches to personality development were provided by depth psychology (see Sect. 1.1). Numerous authors have acknowledged the artistic but have criticized the scientific relevance of hermeneutic contributions. As alternatives, they have proposed more rational models for personality theory. Factor theories of personality and theories of self-regulation have met with great success. Factor theories are based on measurements of individual differences. Employing mathematical techniques, they reduce the variety of measures to a minimum of personality dimensions. Extraversion–introversion and neuroticism are among the most frequently identified dimensions. Theories of self-regulation attempt to conceptualize the processes by which individuals maintain their identity and consistency, as well as those mechanisms through which persons induce or cope with changes in their personality. Central to these theories are self-concept, self-awareness, and self-management.

Due to its diversity of methods and theoretical principles, personality psychology is the most heterogeneous among the fields treated in this research paper. Its holistic claims, however, have merited its frequent appraisal as the most substantial field in psychology.

1.5 Pragmatic: Applied Psychology

Psychology has served three practical purposes: assessment, intervention, and evaluation. A large number of testing methods are available to assess the intelligence and the personality, as well as the specific aptitudes and attitudes of individuals. Based on these assessments, persons can be selected (e.g., for vocational careers), and classified for specific treatments (e.g., therapy plans). Besides persons, objects (e.g., sales products) and situations (e.g., work places) are also subjected to psychological assessments. Interventions include training, therapy, rehabilitation, and work organization programs. Evaluation refers primarily to public programs (e.g., educational projects, health campaigns). Evaluation methods are designed to monitor outcomes and costs of these programs, and to offer advice on how to improve their efficacy.

Some have claimed that a generic applied psychology can be adapted to all domains of civilization. Indeed, psychological services have been offered for a plethora of specialized fields such as architectural psychology, sports psychology, and traffic psychology. Firmly established are the following:

(a) Clinical psychology for the diagnosis and therapy of mental and Behavioral disorders in individuals, couples, and small private groups. Clinical psychologists typically treat neurotic and psychosomatic disorders (e.g., anxiety, compulsion, high blood pressure), as well as Behavioral and social deviations (e.g., aggressiveness, substance abuse).

(b) Educational psychology is predominantly applied in educational institutions (preschool and school programs, special schools, vocational training, etc.), where psychologists advise educators and offer guidance to students. Educational psychologists also deal with educational processes resulting from peer interactions, media exposure, etc.

(c) Work and organizational psychology emphasizes personnel development, training, and work organization in various industries and on the administrative level.

(d) Law psychology is divided into several branches. Forensic psychologists assess witnesses and defendants in court cases; in criminal psychology, the objective is the prevention of delinquency and psychological support for inmates of penal institutions. Moreover, psychologists act as consultants to administrative courts (e.g., by rendering opinions in custody disputes).

(e) Economic psychology encompasses market research, consumer communication, and macroeconomics (i.e., the relationship of income, consumption, and savings).

The traditional view of applied psychology is based on the scientist–practitioner model which assumes that practical expertise is an extension of basic theoretical and methodological expertise. Alternatively, applied psychology may be conceptualized as representing an independent field of practical expertise that originates from the direct interaction with the problems encountered in the various branches of psychology. In this latter view, the scientific value of applied psychology rests on the documentation and analysis of practical problems, and on the validation of psychological procedures and theories. For instance, intelligence tests are not directly derived from basic theories of reasoning. They are carefully selected compilations of various tasks that have long been familiar in educational institutions and workplaces. Psychologists have standardized and validated these tasks to meet specific diagnostic requirements (e.g., school and job entry examinations).

1.6 Conclusions

The programs and paradigms of psychology form a fairly coherent and stable structure. Nevertheless, they exhibit inclinations towards isolating themselves. Typically, fields such as biological and social psychology establish their own research programs, and each field holds its own conferences. Deficits in interdisciplinary exchange have also been claimed to exist between basic psychological research and applied psychology. On the other hand, there is a considerable overlap between various fields of specialization. For instance, research in social psychology may be duplicated in developmental psychology, as development occurs in social contexts and is interpreted to a large extent as a socialization process.

A pervasive feature of psychology is the fragmentation due to differences in perspective and historical background. Traditionally, boundaries between different ‘psychologies’ have been lamented and have given rise to efforts at unification and integration. Recently, however, disintegration and deregulation have also been interpreted as the results of diversity and subjectivism, and the fragmented state of psychology has been defended as a desirable adaptation to postmodern culture.

2. The Position Of Psychology Among Academic Disciplines And Professional Fields

Psychology has often been hailed as the heart of the life sciences. Psychological problems, methods, and theories relate to the humanities as well as to the social and the natural sciences. From the humanistic point of view, psychology is the basis of all scientific inquiry, since it studies the human mind as the source of knowledge. Furthermore, it provides the foundation for moral conduct as it elucidates the human condition.

Until the nineteenth century, scientific research of mind and Behavior, and of individuals and cultures was conducted primarily under the label of philosophy. Moreover, psychological doctrines have been cultivated in law schools, medicine, and theology. In the late nineteenth century, psychology was institutionalized as a specialized academic discipline, along with other methodologically and theoretically advanced fields from the philosophical faculty such as linguistics, history, ethnology, sociology, and biology. A similar development took place in the practical domain. When psychology became a profession, some related branches of practice had already been firmly established (e.g., teachers in public schools). With an academic and professional system steadily growing and splitting into branches, psychology followed two courses. As an independent scientific discipline and profession, psychology develops specific theories, methods, and practical techniques to cultivate an exclusive expertise. In terms of its interdisciplinary position, various related disciplines and professions continue to contribute psychologically relevant findings and methods.

In the second part of this research paper, the position of psychology among academic disciplines and social service professions will be examined. Both disciplinary and interdisciplinary projects will be regarded within four contexts.

2.1 The Metaphysical Context: Psychology, Theology, Occultism, Epistemology

Soul is a central concept in psychology and in theology. Theology defines the soul as an immaterial substance inherent in individuals. As far as the theological conception of the soul is holistic, it corresponds to the notion of a unitary self in personality theory (see Sect. 1.4). Unlike psychology, however, theology assumes a metaphysical world of external wisdom and ultimate values as the origin and destination of the soul. Moreover, theology posits interactions between the soul and metaphysical agents (e.g., gods, angels). This belief extends to miracles beyond rational explanation (e.g., resurrection from the dead), and to particular vicissitudes of the soul (e.g., creation, condemnation, and redemption).

While psychology as a modern doctrine refrains from metaphysical speculations, it does consider religious experiences and practices from a theoretical and a practical point of view. With regard to the former, a field designated as psychology of religion analyzes religious experiences and practices as social cognitions and customs. Regarding the latter, ministers are trained in pastoral psychology that is aimed at improving their ability to cope with the demands of their profession. Psychological programs, especially psychotherapy, may include religious notions and exercises to serve clients who are believers. Most churches agree with psychology in respect to the desirability of mundane peace and harmony. Therefore, clerical counseling services include or cooperate with psychological agencies. During and after natural and technical disasters (e.g., earthquakes, airplane accidents), members of the clergy and psychologists trained in emergency psychology join to provide immediate help to victims and their families.

While religious beliefs were discounted as superstitions in the era of enlightenment, some authors continued to believe in the existence of immaterial beings (e.g., spirits, demons) and rationally inexplicable phenomena (e.g., accurate prophecies, communication with spirits, movement of physical objects by spiritual forces). The movement of occultism suggested that these phenomena may be based on natural conditions that have thus far eluded all scientific scrutiny (e.g., ‘animal magnetism’). Parapsychology has resumed the investigations of occult phenomena. Numerous studies have revealed deception as the origin of allegedly supernatural events. Nevertheless, there have remained some unusual demonstrations and reports that could not be explained scientifically.

In accord with epistemology, the field of metaphysics has not been fully abandoned in modern psychology. Beyond religious beliefs, metaphysics has been interpreted as cognitive contents that transcend personal experience. In this sense, the metaphysical approach is maintained in nativistic theories of psychology such as the assumption of archetypes in analytical psychology (see Sect. 1.1) that allegedly are transmitted to the unconscious from preceding generations. Moreover, fundamentals of perception and reasoning (e.g., the dimensions of space and time, the concept of causality) have been postulated which serve as prerequisites for the acquisition of new experiences, but are not the result of individual experience.

2.2 The Cultural Context: Psychology, The Humanities, And The Social Sciences

Psychology has shared topics with all the humanities and social sciences. Linguistics is an example. The relationship between language, mind, and society has long been deemed worthy of scrutiny. Consequently, the interest in language as the object of research is common to a variety of disciplines (e.g., sociology, history). While their priorities differ, their efforts converge in providing a comprehensive, interdisciplinary understanding of language. Psychological principles are posited by many authors as providing the basis for the structure of languages (e.g., memory capacity, interactive minds). In psychology itself, language is also an important topic. Cognitive, developmental, social, and other fields of psychology investigate verbal representations and verbal Behavior (e.g., words and concepts, language development in children). Within some psychology departments, the study of speech comprehension and production (both oral and written) has been institutionalized as a special field called psycholinguistics. However, the intricacies of specific languages (e.g., Dutch, Chinese) usually remain unexplored in psychological research. Expanding expertise pertaining to the grammar, vocabulary, morphology, and literature of a plethora of modern-day, as well as ancient languages has spawned language-specific research and training. This has been institutionalized in language departments that conduct extensive studies on specific languages. Moreover, many language departments pursue a program of linguistics that elaborates general theories of language.

A similar example from the social sciences is ethnology. Culture-specific lifestyles and beliefs have been salient topics in the discussion of human nature and human interactions on all levels of complexity (e.g., parent–child relationships, government of states). Much emphasis has been placed on comparing ‘primitive’ with ‘civilized’ lifestyles, in the hope that such studies would reveal the evolution of humankind. Frequently, cultural studies have been assigned to psychology, and psychological principles were invoked to explain diverse cultural phenomena. Jung (see Sect. 1.1), for instance, has found evidence for archetypes in folk mythology. Widespread interest in foreign and primitive cultures has inspired research expeditions to distant countries. Such projects have provided invaluable information on human cultures (including their geography, language, technical skills, etc.). Moreover, they have led to the development of advanced research methods. A result of these efforts has been the establishment of fields such as ethnology and anthropology. Related disciplines, including psychology, have contributed to and benefited from ethnological research. Within psychology, there still exists the subdivision of cross-cultural psychology.

2.3 The Natural Context: Psychology, Biology, Physiology

Some psychological research has been initiated during the nineteenth century by biologists and physiologists in order to study brain functions which eluded the research methods of the time. Physiological psychology was promoted as a new scientific discipline that employed experiments to investigate higher mental functions (e.g., sensation, attention, learning). By the end of the twentieth century, brain research, neurophysiology, and biochemistry have come closer to the explanation of how cognition and Behavior are represented in and controlled by the nervous system. Above all, brain research has determined the location of psychologically relevant neural functions (e.g., centers for speech production and comprehension), and has elucidated the organization of neural networks that interact during psychological processes (e.g., links between cortical correlates of perceptions and subcortical correlates of emotions in the appraisal process). Equally vital is the understanding of the hormonal control of arousal in the nervous system (e.g., due to adrenaline discharge), including the regulation of the sleep–wake cycle, alternations between activity and relaxation, and mood changes. In order to continue the research in this area, a new field called neuropsychology has been established.

The study of individual differences was instigated by efforts to ascertain the inheritance of character traits and skills (including deviant character and ingenuity). Studies on phenotypes have demonstrated the substantial influence of genetic factors on personality and Behavior. Biological research programs are close to unraveling the mystery of the genetic code that is the substrate of inherited cognitive and Behavioral dispositions.

Ethology deserves to be mentioned as a traditional interface between psychology and biology. It focuses on species-specific Behavior with an emphasis on adaptation to the environment. Central issues are instincts as long-term, species-specific adaptations of drives and related Behavior patterns (e.g., sex drive and mating Behavior), and key stimuli eliciting instinctive Behavior (e.g., the scheme of childlike characteristics which triggers affectionate Behavior). Currently, ethological studies in biology outnumber those in psychology, as the latter discipline has turned to questions of individual learning and socialization. However, psychology, in particular animal psychology and biological psychology (see Sect. 1.2) has continually incorporated ethological findings into its theories. The existence of neural and hormonal correlates of instinctive Behavior has long been postulated, and neurophysiological research is in the process of providing the evidence for these assumptions.

2.4 The Context Of Healthcare: Psychology And Medicine

Health is a physical and a mental state. Physical ailments have a psychological impact, and psychological disorders may cause physical diseases. The role of psychosocial factors has long been recognized in medicine, and special categories of neurotic and psychosomatic diseases have been defined. Neuroscience has demonstrated the effects of psychological stress on the immune system, and the new field psychoimmunology has been established.

The treatment of neurotic and psychosomatic disorders has become the domain of certified therapists trained in clinical psychology (see Sect. 1.5) rather than medicine. These therapists implement psychological diagnostic procedures and therapies such as cognitive and Behavior therapy. A rapidly growing field in the health services is health psychology that designs, conducts, and validates programs of disease prevention (e.g., dental care, breaking nicotine addiction) and rehabilitation (e.g., after myocardial infarctions).

While all these psychological fields center on patients, another approach focuses on physicians: medical psychology. Obviously, diagnostic and therapeutic procedures may engender unconventional and emotional interactions between physicians and patients, and the outcome of treatments may depend on the social skills of physicians. Therefore, medical psychology studies and attempts to enhance doctor– patient relationships. For instance, doctors are advised on how to cope with stressful experiences (e.g., death of patients), and with problems of intimacy (e.g., during urological examinations).

2.5 Conclusions

There exists a tripartition of psychologically relevant research and practice: (a) generic involvement in topics which various fields of psychology (e.g., developmental, social psychology) share with other disciplines (e.g., sociology, pedagogy, biology), (b) specializations in object-centered disciplines (e.g., linguistics, ethnology, neurophysiology), and (c) specializations within psychology (e.g., psycholinguistics, cross-cultural psychology, neuropsychology). A complex network of academic disciplines and social service professions has flourished in recent years, and within this network psychology occupies a respectable position with links to a variety of related fields.

However, the existing interdisciplinary network has also been criticized on the grounds of insufficient cooperation and of causing paralyzing conflicts. In particular, overlapping research in psychology and other independent disciplines has been indicted as a waste of resources. Why must there be linguistics and psycholinguistics, ethnology and cross-cultural psychology, neurophysiology and neuropsychology, organizational psychology and sociology, pedagogy and educational psychology, etc.? There are voices that advocate a re-integration of the presently diverging branches of the humanities, the social and the natural sciences. Some view psychology as the designated leader in this movement. Presently, however, the vision of a department of psychology pervading the entire university is highly unrealistic.

In regard to interdisciplinary integration, the attitudes diverge also within psychology itself. Some psychologists pride themselves in the academic and professional identity which psychology has achieved by its own methodological and theoretical approaches, and therefore stand opposed to a comprehensive integration, while others emphasize the benefits to be gained by merging resources with related disciplines. Two new interdisciplinary fields are exemplary for the movement towards integration: cognitive science and neuroscience. The highly sophisticated methodology of these disciplines (e.g., computer technology, high-resolution measurements of brain processes) may provide answers to fundamental psychological problems and may facilitate the development of revolutionary practical applications (e.g., decoding the memory traces in the brain could advance more effective learning procedures). However, major objections against a full integration of psychology into the new fields of cognitive science and neuroscience remain: mind may be more than a complex web of biological and technical structures and processes.


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