One response to questions about the future of psychology is to attempt an answer to another question: What have we learned from psychology's past? This book presents a collection of original papers by authorities with international reputations in various fields of psychology. Contributors were invited to appraise the past of their own research specialties, with an eye toward the future. The emphasis is upon the more scientific areas of psychological research.
The catalyst for this book was an international conference honoring Gustav A. Lienert, held at Bad Homburg, West Germany, in 1981. Some two dozen psychologists from both Western and Eastern Europe, North and South America, and representing fields as different as psychophysics is from clinical psychology, or animal memory from human decision making, described their research and argued the prospects for the future of experimental psychology. In spite of dramatic differences in viewpoint, communication was remarkably open and empathic. Disagreements were pursued in friendly give-and-take discussion. Most of the arguments found their way into this book where readers can confront the different viewpoints in more polished form.
The introductory chapter tries to summarize contemporary conflicts about how psychology should develop, classifying them with respect to enduring polarities. Questions are raised about the past success of experimental psychology and its future prospects. The three chapters of Part I examine experimental psychology from historical, philosophical, and methodological perspectives. Like the rest of the book, these chapters are written for research scholars, graduate students, and even those advanced undergraduates in psychology who are concerned about where experimental psychology is going.
The remaining chapters sample specific research areas. Part II examines substantive research on animal learning and memory--a mixture of genuinely comparative psychology, concerns with classical problems such as place learning, and attempts to bridge the usual separation between animal and human psychology. Part III continues the mixture of old and new. Its topics vary from classical perception and judgment to contemporary information-processing approaches in cognitive psychology. Though necessarily a limited sampling of this huge domain of research, the variety of problems and methods seems characteristic of contemporary research on cognition. Part IV leaves the traditional experimental . . .