A Hundred Years of Psychology, 1833-1933

By J. C. Flugel | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
CHILD PSYCHOLOGY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY

Two further developments of evolutionism may be noted here, before we pass on to a consideration of the further progress of systematic psychology after Bain and Spencer. The first and most important of these is child psychology, the second the anthropological study of the mental life of primitive peoples. We have seen that Darwin himself, in his Biographical Sketch of an Infant, made a start with the detailed and careful observation of the behaviour and development of young children. Some four years later appeared a more ambitious study of the same kind by W. Preyer, a friend of Fechner and Wundt and a worker in experimental psychology in its very early days. Preyer observed the development of reflexes from birth and the gradual complications ensuing as a result of experience and learning, particularly the influence of imitation. Although much criticized, because of its inadequate separation of observation from interpretation, the Mind of the Child is one of the great classics of child psychology, and fresh editions of the book have been called for until quite recent times. In the early nineties the new interest in children began to develop apace. In 1891 Stanley Hall, who had recently returned to America from Wundt's laboratory in Leipzig, founded the Pedagogical Seminary, the first journal to be devoted to the subject, while Sully in England established the British Association for Child Study in 1893. Both journal and association have played a considerable part in the development of the "new education" in their respective

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