psychology

Gustav Fechner, Psychophysics, and the Ultimate Philosophic Problem

Gustav Fechner, Psychophysics, and the Ultimate Philosophic Problem

On April 19, 1801, German philosopher, physicist and experimental psychologist Gustav Theodor Fechner was born. An early pioneer in experimental psychology and founder of psychophysics, he inspired many 20th century scientists and philosophers. He is also credited with demonstrating the non-linear relationship between psychological sensation and the physical intensity of a stimulus, which became known as the Weber–Fechner law. “Man lives on earth not once, but three times: the first stage of…
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B.F. Skinner and his Idea of Radical Behaviorism

B.F. Skinner and his Idea of Radical Behaviorism

On March 20, 1904, American psychologist, behaviorist, author, inventor, and social philosopher Burrhus Frederic (B. F.) Skinner was born. His pioneering work in experimental psychology promoted behaviorism, shaping behavior through positive and negative reinforcement and demonstrated operant conditioning. The “Skinner box” he used in experiments from 1930 remains famous. “The real question is not whether machines think but whether men do. The mystery which surrounds a thinking machine already surrounds a thinking man.”…
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Camille Flammarion and his Balancing Act between Popular Science and Science Fiction

Camille Flammarion and his Balancing Act between Popular Science and Science Fiction

On February 26, 1848, French astronomer and author Nicolas Camille Flammarion was born. He maintained a private observatory, where he studied double and multiple stars, the moon and Mars. He is best known as a prolific author of more than fifty titles, including popular science works about astronomy, several notable early science fiction novels, and works on psychical research and related topics. “May we attribute to the color of the herbage and…
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Phineas Gage’s Accident and the Science of the Mind and the Brain

Phineas Gage’s Accident and the Science of the Mind and the Brain

On September 13, 1848, Phineas Gage (aged 25) was foreman of a work gang blasting rock while preparing the roadbed for the Rutland & Burlington Railroad outside the town of Cavendish, Vermont, when a large iron rod was driven completely through his head. Much of his brain‘s left frontal lobe was destroyed, reportedly affecting his personality and behavior. Phineas Gage influenced nineteenth-century discussion about the mind and brain, particularly debate on cerebral…
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J.C.R. Licklider and Interactive Computing

J.C.R. Licklider and Interactive Computing

On March 11, 1915, American psychologist and computer scientist J.C.R. Licklider, known simply as J.C.R. or “Lick“, was born. He is particularly remembered for being one of the first to foresee modern-style interactive computing and was one of the most distinguished Internet pioneers. “[…] we are entering a technological age in which we will be able to interact with the richness of living information – not merely in the passive way that…
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Eleanor J. Gibson and the Visual Cliff Phenomenon

Eleanor J. Gibson and the Visual Cliff Phenomenon

On December 7, 1910, American psychologist Eleanor Jack Gibson was born. Gibson focused on reading development and perceptual learning in infants and toddlers. In the 1960s and 1970s Gibson, with her husband James J. Gibson, created the Gibsonian ecological theory of development which emphasized how important perception was because it allows humans to adapt to their environments. Perhaps her most well-known contribution to psychology was the “visual cliff“, which studied depth perception and…
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Jean-Martin Charcot – A Pioneer in Neurology

Jean-Martin Charcot – A Pioneer in Neurology

On November 29, 1825, French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot was born. Charcot is best known today for his work on hypnosis and hysteria, in particular his work with his hysteria patient Louise Augustine Gleizes. He is also known as “the founder of modern neurology“, and his name has been associated with at least 15 medical eponyms, including Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease and Charcot disease (better known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, motor neurone disease, or Lou Gehrig…
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Robert Musil and the Man without Qualities

Robert Musil and the Man without Qualities

On November 6, 1880, Austrian philosophical writer Robert Musil was born. Musil‘s unfinished novel The Man Without Qualities (German: Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften) is generally considered to be one of the most important and influential modernist novels. “We do not have too much intellect and too little soul, but too little intellect in matters of the soul.”, Robert Musil, Helpless Europe (1922) Youth and Education Robert Mathias Musil was born in Klagenfurt, Carinthia,…
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Emil Kraepelin’s classification system for Mental Illness

Emil Kraepelin’s classification system for Mental Illness

On October 7, 1926, German psychologist Emil Kraepelin passed away. Kraepelin is considered the founder of modern scientific psychiatry, psychopharmacology and psychiatric genetics. He developed a classification system for mental illness that influenced subsequent classifications. Kraepelin made distinctions between schizophrenia and manic-depressive psychosis that remain valid today. Youth and Education Emil Kraepelin was born as the youngest of three children of the music teacher and actor Karl Kraepelin. He graduated from high school in…
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E. Morton Jellinek and the Causes of Alcoholism

E. Morton Jellinek and the Causes of Alcoholism

On August 15, 1890, American biostatistician and physiologist E. Morton Jellinek was born. Jellinek was a pioneer in the scientific study of the nature and causes of alcoholism and in descriptions of its symptomatology. He was an early proponent of the disease theory of alcoholism, arguing with great persuasiveness that alcoholics should be treated as sick people. Youth and Education Born in New York City, USA, Jellinek studied biostatistics and physiology at…
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