The formation and consolidation of scientific paradigm in American psychology after World War Ⅱ: Analysis based on social character
Abstract: The flourish development of scientific psychology in America was often understood as the necessary subsequence of the evolution of intellectual history in psychology, in which psychology separated itself from philosophy and gradually found its own scientific methods during the past centuries. However, as one of categories of culture, the history of psychology could not be understood without the considering of societies and people who live in it. According to Fromms social psychological studies, social change may form the social character of a given society, and the social character will initiate new thoughts or ideas which constitutes new culture and ideology. This new kind of culture and ideology will be easy to be accepted by the society, and solidify its social character in turn. So it will be interesting if we explore the process in which psychology in America committed to scientism from the perspective of social change and social character after World War Ⅱ. There ware a lot of changes after World War Ⅱ in America society in terms of politics, economics, industrial structure, population, education, and belief. On the material level, Americareached the so-called advanced industrial society and consumer society. On the mental level, the worship of knowledge gradually replaced the worship of god in America society. These changes formed the social character of America after World War Ⅱ through pragmatism and individualism that were parts of American culture. The key trait of this kind of social character are onedimensionalization, pursuing of instrumental rationality, and individual priority. What this kind of social character looking forward in terms of psychology as a part of culture and ideology is the disenchantment of innerworld, or we can say the secularization of mind, which will offer some kind of certainty for the working of American society. World War Ⅱ promoted the development of psychology on general, and also left abundant of problems for America society, such as psychic trauma of veteran, the need for mental health, how to avoid the reviving of totalitarianism, how the collective affect the behavior of individual, and how to train more scientists, professors, and engineers for America and finally win the competition with Soviet Union. All these needs from society led to the boom of clinical psychology, social psychology, developmental and educational psychology, and psychometrics in America. Not only the numbers of APA members and journals, but also the number of PHD in American psychology surged during three decades after World War Ⅱ. The schools of psychology in America also changed during that time. New behavioralism declined after Hull and Skinners time due to its neglect of psyche. Psychoanalysis used to affect American psychology and evolved to ego psychology which could be seen as the product of Americanization. However, psychoanalysis was finally marginalized by scientific psychology in America because of the rise of evidence based medicine. The Third Force Psychology once made a noise in America, but it finally faded due to its attempt to connect psychology and philosophy again, and its complicated methods. It was cognitive psychology that became most popular and the main paradigm of American psychology. In a nutshell, the history of American psychology expressed its social character after World War Ⅱ, which called for the secularization of mind. The scientific psychology in America also plays its ideological role in maintaining the efficient work of American society in turn.
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