PRESCRIPTIONS AS OPERATIVE I N THE

HISTORY OF PSYCHOLOGY*
ROBERT I. WATSON

University of New Hampshire

Over the last decade or so, the history of psychology as a scholarly discipline
has been making considerable strides. Early in this period the refrain was heard
tha t we were all amateurs attempting to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps
and eager to learn our trade from our more experienced confreres in other historical
disciplines. It would, of course, be a serious mistake if we were ever to lose this
eagerness to learn from workers in related fields. More recently, coincident with an
increasing confidence in our own abilities, there has come to the psychologist a
realization that, by the very nature of his training and background, he brings to
the study of history, certain positive skills in which he may well be better equipped
than is the typical historian. Instances of these skills are expertise in quantitative
procedures, knowledge of social psychology, and familiarity with personality
research and theory-all of which bring a direct enrichment to historical research.
Just as knowledge of history adds a depth to one's knowledge of psychology, so,
too, psychology can help to add another dimension to history.
This is an account of the search for a psychologically authentic approach to
historical study which draws upon the already established thought patterns of a
psychologist. It is motivated by a desire to extend psychological thinking to
historical approaches. Although a means of teaching of the field to students is
one of my considerations, I am more desirous of providing a framework in which
to carry on research and to write in the field. Illustrations, in fact, will ignore
teaching in favor of research stimulation and writing.
I have found this framework for historical research and writing in what I have
called prescriptive theory (Watson, 1967). A prescription is a n attitude taken by
a psychologist toward one or another aspect of his psychological concerns. By con-
ceiving prescriptions in attitudinal terms, in effect, I am opening u p the possibility
of placing them in the setting of social psychology. T h e major function of pre-
scriptions is conceived to be orientative or attitudinal in th a t it tells the psycholo-
gist how he should behave. A quantitative prescription is manifested by a psy-
chologist when, faced by a psychological problem, he forthwith starts to ask how
he might quantify it without necessarily first inquiring whether the problem is
suitable for quantification. Moreover, in order to be of historical value, the pre-
scriptions isolated for study must have existed over some appreciable period of
time. The rational and empirical prescriptions have served a guidance function
for centuries while more specific manifestations such as logical empiricism have
been of historical moment for much shorter temporal periods. Empiricism and
rationalism then are the prescriptions; logical empiricism a manifestation of them.
*Earlier versions of this paper were given at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological
Association, September,'l970 in Miami Florida and as the Presidential Address at the Annual Meet-
ing of the New England Psychological Association, November, 1970 in Boston, Massachusetts.

311

’ A new approach had become imperative because in using a t least some of the earlier ones I became aware of certain weaknesses they exhibited. When given more specific meaning. Boring.” this way of conceptualizing history is too limited in scope. it does not allow us to see the individual in a social- intellectual context. while he does have an effect. Galton. is often referred to as the Zeitgeist theory. one major approach to history can be said to be severely psychological in nature. . “true scientists” or bad guys “superstitious charlatans” or save the mark. 1968). I agree with him that psy- chology is a pre-paradigmatic science and for the reasons I have stated. In short. When some great scientific discovery is made it is attributed to the Zeitgeist. and then indicate what appears to me to be its major weakness. T o move to its polar opposite. To speak of the Zeitgeist and to mention a prominent characteristic has a certain summarizing value. Stern. and others-functioned (Watson. economic and political conditions under which pioneer investigators of individual aptitude differences- Binet. I will say no more about it. th a t of the academic community. “philosophers. in which the burden of history is conceived as being borne by the eminent men who made history. 106). Attributing something to the Zeitgeist is often nothing more than a slogan for our ignorance. democracy-and the like. either good guys. say.312 ROBERT I. The Great Psychologists (1968). I do agree that the individual. G. it characteristically attempts to do so in terms of very broad trends-urbanization. leans heavily upon this approach. Quite apart from the simplicistic invitation it extends to make psychology’s cast of char- acters. as did E. or a way of saying what will be. cannot carry the burden of history alone. The Great illan theory is psychological but not social psychological in nature. will be. the social-intellectual context approach to history. frontier mentality. when used in isolation. il4ost often appeals made t o the Zeitgeist evokes a mood in the hearer but they often suffer from being extraordinarily empty of content. the time was propitious and. By com- paring them with the typical breed of academic psychologists of their time it was possible t o establish th at their academic Geists differed in certain characteristic ’The paradigmatic approach t o history associated with the name of Kuhn I have considered in the earlier paper. My textbook. Later in this paper I shall attempt to show how prescriptive theory helps t o overcome the weaknesses they show. I n its extreme form it denies any influence whatsoever to environmental factors. This is the Great Man approach. I shall deal with them one by one saying only enough to identify the approach. When the Zeitgeist is studied at a more detailed level. Curiously enough. WATSON Before expanding upon this summarization of the prescriptive approach some- thing should be said about other approaches to history th a t are current. To use one of Boring’s defi- nitions it is “the total body of knowledge and opinion available a t any time to a person living within a given culture” (1955. I n fact this speaker found this to be so when he investigated how the social. p. if it hadn’t been Einstein who made the advance. it does take on more meaningfulness. Despite the stimulation I have received from Kuhn. education. I n almost all instances I found them useful but in a limited way. Cattell. While not going so far as to conceive psychology’s eminent men as serving onIy as placebos. so that I now make them supplementary to the prescriptive approach. Zweistein or Dreistein would have come along shortly. as someone said. The difficulty is this.

we must play fair. there are certain traps to the unwary historian to which this approach makes him susceptible. Agassi took somewhat savage delight in arguing th a t much practice in the writing of history is guided b y comparing the past to the truth as reported in the latest textbook in the particular field. Agassi based his central attack upon what is often referred to as presentism (e. This approach he traced back to Francis Bacon and his impossible demand that collection of facts be made without appeal to preformed opinions. it also may be said to be profoundly ahistorical. immerse ourselves in the past and see it as they did.. often the Zeitgeist account of a particualr period is stated in such fashion th a t historical continuity is impossible. For example. But here. But what about that well-worn approach to conceptualizing history in terms of the content of relevant research and speculation a t a given temporal period? For example. We must not anticipate. these pioneers tended to be free from the more stifling aspects of the academic atmosphere by what might appear to be the somewhat dubious advantage of not having regular academic appointments. the view that the past facts leads to the present facts. the past is to be judged as it leads to the highest point of development. by Stocking. We know now that we are always guided by some implicit or explicit hypothesis. That is to say. we must report the facts as the individual at the particular historical period in question saw them. It seems as if all one had to do was just report the facts and nothing but the facts. then. By explaining everything it explains nothing. “metaphysical. and perhaps most damning of all. There is an inevitable selection. This approach seems. as always. I n denying presentism.” philosophical. a n account of space perception and explo- ration of pitch discrimination. Helmholtz’s major work might be examined in terms of the speed of neural impulse.g. One Zeitgeist is seen as succeeding another with the characteristics at’tributed to the former bearing little or no relation to those of the latter. Inductive historians were seen as behaving as if they were grading compositions-those in the past who were seen as being pre- cursors of present truths were given good marks while those who held different or contrary views were given bad marks and often charged perjoratively with being “non-scientific. 1965) th a t is. there is some principle of selection operating through the historian since he never does report all of the facts. I would argue. and normative point of departure. to have much to recommend it since it solves the problem of needing a framework by dismissing it as unnecessary. they say. Quite apart from the weakness that the contentual inductivist who says he is only collecting facts is actually being guided by some implicit hypotheses which by that very fact weakens his grasp of the material. that there is some value to a Zeitgeist approach but all too often it is so generally stated as to be meaningless. the present. It was this characteristic of fact collection that caused Agassi (1963) t o call misdirected efforts along this line the inductive approach to history. at first glance. in effect.” There are practicing historians who stand sturdily opposed to presentism but still follow a n inductive-contentual approach. this is much truer to the historian’s craft than is presentist variation of inductivism and yet can we ever . What seems to be the most common principle of selection by historians is to emphasize presentation of historical material most relevant to the content of current science. I n my view. theory of color vision. When used without supplementation by other approaches. PRESCRIPTIONS AS OPERATIVE I N THE HISTORY O F PSYCHOLOGY 313 respects.

some historians of psychology.. I will now turn specifically to psychology as a field which in some way or another we must distinguish from and relate to other dis- ciplines. then. computer programming and student involvement are today. If today’s scientific psychology is judged to be ob- jective. the Beast- Uachine controversy.g. research problems. I hold that there is no subject matter-be it physics or psychology-distinguished by the subject matter that its practitioners investigate.3 14 ROBERT I. and certainly dull. they paid rapt attention to their work and engaged in vehement controversies about events. philosophy or physics. I am now in a position to turn to a presentist but noncontentual approach to history. Something must be wrong. is achieved by historical workers. With Popper. monistic and inter-personal then a n y material f r o m the past that i s objective. Moreover. We might have even congratulated ourselves for not being psychologists a t the time of Wundt when we would have to have been trained as introspectors and report our sensory experiences. problems. This is the reason th a t physiology and philosophy are inescapable parts of our heritage insofar as they have dealt with the same problems as we do. (e. I n an attempt to answer the question of what is relevant to its history. Did the psychologists of that time find the material dull and meaningless? Not a t all. What they do is this. we seem to be trapped between the enticing evils of contentual presentism and the dullness of contentual antiquarianism. it is not part of psychology . these historians search the past theories. At first glance the question might be framed as to what is psychology’s subject matter-an account of the kind of things with which it deals. if history to be true to the past must be dull and meaningless to those of us of the present. These are not salient means of demarcating a field. as they see it. Kantor. At the moment. What I have said to this point applied to the history of science in general as well as the history of psychology in particular. Just as we do. the more the anti- quarian goal. 1963) concluded that the appropriate solution is t o first decide about the nature of psychology of today on other grounds than content. They judge psychology today as possessing certain characteristic trends. We all have had the experience of reading history. I n order to be able to turn to a variant of the non-contentual presentist approach based on a decision as to what is its current subject matter. In short. the more difficult it is for contemporary readers to find it either comprehensible or relevant. Disciplines are distinguished partly for administrative convenience such as organization of academic departments and partly because problems we investigate tend to grow into a system of interrelated problems and theories. WATSON free ourselves from the present? I doubt we can. And problems may cut right across the borders of any subject matter of discipline. the past for its own sake. considered insignificant or even found incomprehensible. such as physiology. inter-personal was scientific psychology then. were as vital and gripping to psychologists then as behavior therapy. methods and trends that support selected current conceptions and ignore or decry the rest on the ground that it was not part of scientific psychology then because. including the history of psy- chology. pieces of apparatus. W e are not students of some subject matter but students of problems. and finding the material almost meaningless. imageless thought and the influence of the speed on reaction time of the attitude taken toward it. monistic. To mention only two or three examples. and theories that today are forgotten.

Table I presents the prescriptions arranged in terms of contrasting pairs- only one among several ways that they relate to one other. gradations may be exhibited as often happens in the setting of ra- tionality-irrationality. PRESCRIPTIONS AS OPERATIVE I N THE HISTORY O F PSYCHOLOGY 315 now. Limiting myself to only the polar opposites of the three trends mentioned. and for lack of a better term on my part. i. non-personalism. for example. (Indeed. Instead of polarity. implicitly a t least. and results. in attempting to prove that Plato. with similar and even identical prescriptions I do precisely this).. quantitative or whatever is entirely defensible. subjectivism. THEPRESCRIPTIONS OF PSYCHOLOGY ARRANGED FAIRS IN CONTRASTING Conscious mentalism-Unconscious mentalism (emphasis on awareness of mental structure or activity-unawareness) Contentual objectivism-Contentual subjectivism (psychological data viewed as b e havior of individual-as mental structure or activity of individual) Determinism-Indeterminism (human events completely explicable in terms of antecedents-not completely so explicable) Empiricism-Rationalism (major. but also in denying that they did so in the past. To the extent that the selected trends leave out some aspects of psychology and yet claims to be the whole field. Some prescriptions are held implicitly a t a particular temporal period as is the case with monism a t the present time despite being a very explicit prescription in the past. It arrives a t its delimitation of the field by excluding many facets that at least some psychologists to this very day think is part of the field. each surely have some contemporary supporters among psychologists. insofar as he was a psychologist. This way of limiting scope is of course a fertile ground for exercise of special pleading and straining.e. mind and matter) Naturalism-Supernaturalism (nature requires for its operation and explanation only principles found within it-requires transcendent guidance as well) Nomotheticism-Idiographicism (emphasis upon discovering general laws-upon explaining particular events or individuals) . the view is short-sighted and limited. To marshal1 evidence to show that psychology has become increasingly objective. in denying that these other trends might also function in the future. Some manifestations of prescriptive function can be no more than mentioned on this account. and. dualism. if not exclusive source of knowledge is experience -is reason) Functionalism-Structuralism (psychological categories are activities-are contents) Inductivism-Deductivism (investigations begun with facts or observations-with assumed established truths) Mechanism-Vitalism (activities of living beings completely explicable by physio- chemical constituents-not SO explicable) Methodological objectivism-Methodological subjectivism (use of methods open to verification by another competent observer-not so open) Molecularism-Molarism (psychological data most aptly described in terms of relatively small units-relatively large units) M onism-Dualism (fundamental principle or entity in universe is of one kind-is of two kinds. not only in denying that other trends may have been a t work in shaping psychology of the present. was a behaviorist.

Indeed. There is some merit in distinguishing between contentual and methodological prescriptions as is done in identifying some of the prescriptions in that the attitudes they express are oriented toward one or another of these two facets of the psy- chologist’s task. As the source of knowledge. Descartes. WATSON Peripheralism-Centralism (stress upon psychological events taking place a t peri- phery of body-within the body) Purism-Utilitarianism (seeking of knowledge for its own s a k e f o r its usefulness in other activities) Quantitatiuism-Qualitatiuism (stress upon knowledge which is countable or meas- urable-upon th at which is different in kind or essence) Rationalism-Irrationalism (emphasis upon data supposed to follow dictates of good sense and intellect-intrusion or domination of emotive and conative factors upon intellectual processes) Staticism-Deuelopmentalism (emphasis upon cross-sectional view--upon changes with time) Staticism-Dynamicism(emphasis upon enduring aspects--upon change and factors making for change) When their oppositional character is exhibited in the same temporal period. It is not long since that their synthesis. are rationalism and contentual and methodological subjectivism. At the time. SOtoo. This polarity can and does occur among them but often a t a given temporal period some other more complicated relationships hold. still viable on the cur- rent scene and therefore counter-dominant. was ushered in with an emphasis on method. Hobbes. For example. there is every reason to believe that there are instances where. Both he and his contemporary rationalists agreed on emphasizing methodological and contentual subjectivism in psychology. and rationalism with its stress on reason. in fact. are deductivism and inductivism. Leibniz and Locke. Nevertheless. For example in the thinking of a given person there may be both structural and functional aspects as will be the case with Descartes mentioned in a moment.316 ROBERT I. A moment ago mention was made of a current stress on empiricism in psychology. rationalism dominated in England despite our justified emphasis on his major contribution to empiricism. I will illustrate through the methodologically oriented prescriptions. are particularly salient. The modern period. Also important in influencing the methods used are methodologica1 objectivism . empiricism with its emphasis on experience. capti- vated psychologists.. Neither for Locke long ago nor today was or is this an unrelieved empiricism.e. instead of being antithetical. For centuries. Bacon. Today Locke’s stress on empiricism is shared by us but we have shifted to a dominant adherence to methodological and contentual objectivism. a synthesis may occur. i. one can make an estimate of relative strengths. Thus dominance and counter- dominance come into play. each differed widely in their answers but agreed that their quest was for the correct method to gain knowledge. empiricism and rationalism presented what was in- terpreted to be irreconciliable rival claims as sources of knowledge. At the time of Locke. prescriptions are complementary with both being simultaneously present. logical empiricism. “rational” empiricism. empirical learning were perhaps just strong enough to be called counter- dominant.

a t Princeton University. Instead of trying to decide which of these predominates today (and is supposed therefore to be characteristic of psychology). while draw- ing upon their respective prescriptions. “A Prescriptive Analysis of the Psychological Views of Rend Descartes. or investigatory methods or statistical techniques. By use of prescriptive theory. in some measure a t least. and then ruling out rationalism and methodological subjectivism as non-psychological. but a historical continuity seems to be present. the search for certainty through systematic doubt of Descartes as a means of establishing rationalistic truth. strictly speaking. The contents and the methods associated with prescriptive attitudes-the nonsense syllable of Ebbinghaus in the service of objectivism and quantification.. but I would argue th a t a line of descent could be traced. On this problem Descartes worked a t two prescriptive levels-the molar level through his argument that an animal is a n automata and the body of man a machine. a n atomic theory since he accepted no limit to spatial divisibility and denied the void. and a t the molecular level through his espousal of a corpuscular theory. This helps to solve the presentist-antiquarian issue. differ from t ha t of Husserl. The inductivism of Bacon and the inductivism of Skinner. Harvey had shown how a bodily function is intelligible in terms of its own mechanisms. Presentistic interest is preserved by showing the relation to the present.” lifted more or less bodily from the prescriptively oriented history of psychology on which I a m working. 1969. by Harvey’s work on circulation which successfully fostered a mechanistic prescription. They are not then just contents or hardware. but set so f a r as possible in the context of the thought processes of the individuals concerned. This emphasis on methodology continues to this very day with logical empiricism and phenomenology each Claiming to be the most valid and relevant method for securing psychological knowledge. This would be my way of “telling it like it was” and yet showing the relation of the past to con- temporary interest. the same prescription changes with time. so-called because it is not. Of course. As you might expect. ie. Descartes was inspired. At the charter meeting of the International Society for the History of the Behavioral Sciences in May. thus handling differently the matter than would a non-contentual presentist. I paid considerable attention to Des- cartes’ adherence to a deductive rationalism which led t o a sharpening of the pre- vailing dualistic prescription but a t this juncture I chose to focus on aspects not perhaps quite so obvious. I treat them both as con- tributing to the history of psychology. say. So too does the rationalist attitude of Descartes. the free association of Freud to bring out the dynamic unconscious irrationalisms of his patients-give flesh and blood to the story we tell which is history. I try to preserve the values each expressed as the individuals concerned saw them in their own time but to relate these views to those of the present through demonstrating a basically related prescriptive attitude. I presented a paper (1971). PRESCRIPTIONS AS OPERATIVE IN THE HISTORY OF PSYCHOLOGY 317 and methodological subjectivism. empiricism and methodological objectivism. His treatment of mind as substance led to a discussion of his use of the structural prescription while his . differ to be sure. The value of antiquarianism is preserved by presenting the content of the time in its context as seen by the con- tributors concerned.

I would like to say something about the other approaches. ones fellow historians will be quick to step in to point out the obvious errors but at best this is a wasteful procedure. An adequate theory has the tremendous advantage of making possible its falsification b y its promul- . An emphasis on the idiographic attitude rather than the nomothetic seems essential to any examination of personality theory. 3 18 ROBERT I. A fertile field for special pleading and overlooking of contrary evidence is thus created. contentual subjectivism must also be explored. Pre- scriptive theory is analytic in the sense that it tries to specify the dynamic com- ponents that are to be found in the history of psychology. of course. the data collected stands between the plan of attack and the conclusions drawn. contentual problems and methodologies.in the meantime the falsified evidence has been introduced into the stream of scholarship perhaps undetected by all except the specialist. irrationalism and developmentalism. I might call your attention to some of the values of a theory in this context. Historians approach their task with preconceptions of course but they are not always verbalized. Combining the two. WATSON view of mind as exhibiting faculties showed his simultaneous adherence to a func- tional prescription. The principal objection I have advanced to the Great Man theory. Many personality theories lay almost comparable stress upon unconscious mentalism. One of the difficulties of the study of history in th e customary artistic fashion is the ease with which one can slip into circular reasoning. I am reminded in this connection of how often the layman will find his ideal historian in a person that he discovers the professional regards as suspect. Moreover. Hardly more than underway is another book in which I apply prescriptive theory to the problem of the history of personality theory. here as else- where. its simplistic isolation making impossible sole reliance upon it. Since the psychological study of history is a relatively new area of inquiry for psychologists. since the self-concept is an aspect of many personality theories. has been met by working with prescriptive constructs yet dealing with them as expressed by indi- viduals. since. With this as the preliminary heuristic frame- work I a m ready to go more deeply into the matter referring. This I avoid by being primarily deductive a t the onset. T o be sure. Only one approach remains to be considered. social conditions. Theory. I mention it a t all because it gives me the opportunity to show how prescriptive theory may provide a framework before actually turning to writing on a historical subject. As is customary. The concept of salience was first applied to the various prescriptive possibilities. we have individuality objectively and subjectively viewed. theories serve as mnemonic aids in th a t “facts” become more manageable when subsumed under a theory. the attempts to rule out the subjective component expressed contentually by objectivistic views of personality also must receive attention. dynamicism. guides observations and search. If a research design approach is adopted to study history. Supplementation by the limited Zeitgeist approach that I outlined earlier also serves as a needed corrective. I have already referred in passing to how I met the objection to non-contentual presentism and how I attempt to preserve the values of both presentism of a non- inductive sort and antiquarianism. M y deductive hypotheses of prescriptive theory are spread out for all to see. Similarly. inductivism as such. to men.

other than Dr. which historians often lack. it is entitled “Psychological Thought within the Context of the Scientific Revolution. Of the over 1900 papers published in the Transactions. a not inconsiderable virtue not always present even in theories in research areas much more explored than is that of history. I have reached the last aspect of this paper-research studies in the narrower sense of data collection and analysis th at have been generated by prescriptive theory. content analyses provided the major tool. These include the beginnings of the physical science model for psychology and physiology. Related if not identical with this. Without an explicit theory. were given definitions and trained in their application with some material similar to but not identical with the papers in the Transactions. she hypothesized th at events of the seventeenth century served to place psychology in the same conceptual framework as that of the other sciences.” Contrary to general opinion which places the beginning of the scientific study of man in the nineteenth century. explicating a theory in some detail in advance of study has the advantage of making it possible to see more clearly than otherwise would be the case when deliberate or accidental deviations are made.SO to . of course. of the seventeenth century scientists were in the problems of the natural sciences. The judgment made about each paper was whether or not a category under consideration was relevant or not relevant. 367 or 19% were judged to be relevant t o psychological thought and the study of man. PRESCRIPTIONS AS OPERATIVE I N THE HISTORY OF PSYCHOLOGY 319 gator. Two judges. These papers formed the basis of further study. This.96. Many of the principles accepted 8s basic assumptions of nineteenth century psychology were found to be embedded in these papers. the natural mechanical explanation applied to the study of the body of man and also applied to that of abnormal behavior. Completed by Barbara Ross. The information the coding provided was used in a computer analysis through a joint frequency matrix and a n asso- ciation matrix for the 125 variables as well as for each of seven. Over-determined in my own behavior by a n allegiance to quantitativism and methodological objectivism in the setting of a more general empirical bent. Something should be said about general findings before considering what was found about prescriptions. several studies have served to submit prescriptive theory to test other than th a t of validation by the method of plausibility. does not conflict with the incontroversible fact that the major interests. 1665-1700. now of the University of Massachusetts. this safeguard is not possible within the context of his own work. Although not replacing the hard intellectual labor of the historian. five-year periods. The scientific literature of the period scrutinized was the papers in the Philo- sophical Transactions of the Royal Society during the years mentioned. Boston. It allows organization of the complex framework of prescriptions in a systematic way through the definition of the categories. The first dissertation in our doctoral program in the history of psychology used prescriptive theory as a major aspect of its framework. mechanical treatment of animal motion leading to the concept of reflex and explanation of body . Ross. Prescriptive categories are judged sufficiently testable to permit investigation including the possibility of finding results t ha t call for their own demise or modification. Intra coder and inter-coder reliabilities were in the range of . treatment of the data and interpretation of the findings.

We at this point might focus on one of the advantages of a multi-variable approach. Ross completes the first paragraph of her concluding summary. independent and separate functions of parts of the brain. It may eventuate in modification in my theoretical position. as I defined it. learning and development received some- what less attention. . methodological objectivism and probabilistic de- terminism. the mechani- cal philosophy provided most of the fundamental knowledge in the areas of sen- sation and perception. and probabilistic de- terminism 597*. Ross found it necessary to broaden indeterminism- an event not always completely determined by its antecedents. nomotheticism. and comparative problems also received major attention. The conception of prescriptions as opposing pairs was supported by the asso- ciation coefficients (of Kendall & Stuart) which reflects relative frequency of two variables occurring together in th at they demonstrated a high negative relationship. I n most instances Dr. Suffice it to say here. ROSShad supplemented the definitions given on the hand-out in her instructions for coding and consequently the meanings she attrib- uted t o the prescriptions. t o include p. investigated only the variables called for by her hypothesis. namely methodological ob- jectivism 7oy0. WATSON motions residing in the nervous system. and cultural differences were studied by examination of the history of language and religion. nomotheticism 51%. comparative studies of men and animals led to discussion of evolutionary concepts. Findings on subject matter categories in which the papers from the Trans- actions fitted must be mentioned.320 ROBERT I. i. I n a few minutes to do justice to the evidence presented in a manuscript of nearly 500 pages. The pertinent prescription here is so-called probabilistic determinism.” Thus Dr. then she would not have known of what was a t first glance disconcerting contrary evidence. Physiological problems were discussed in 46% of the papers. I n this instance. Accord- ingly this quotation forms the basis of what I shall have to say about the findings concerning prescriptions. There were other prescriptions with equally high percentages of appear- ance than she had predicted! If she had reached only for evidence applicable t o her hypothesis. It is too early to tell.. is an almost impossible task.e. Remarks hereafter need therefore be restricted to those pertinent to prescriptive theory. she explained their presence satisfactorily without weakening her argument very much. while thinking. But there are some deliberate deviations. “Prescriptively. while respectively sensation and social phenomena accounted for 36 and 3370.. I n preliminary analysis and planning of the study Dr. of the seventeenth century] reflected quantitativism. the new science [i. Perception.e. quantitativism 4oy0. there is a deviation from the original formu- lation of prescriptions but one which she is a t pains to justify. including systematic examination of removing parts and in- creased attention to voluntary and involuntary motion took place. personality. abnormal. The same prescriptive emphases underlie modern science. A major source of evidence for this contention was the relatively high per- centage of papers judged as showing their presence. It was these particular prescriptions (and no other) th at were hypothesized as reflecting the prevailing scientific attj tude in the latter half of the seventeenth century.robabilism-that it is possible with some degree of probability to predict sequences of events.

need no description here since they will be carried on more or less conventionally. developmentalism and central- ism. The first factor could be called methodological objectivism since its heaviest positive loading was precisely on this variable. This seems to be a molaristic-dynamic-idiographic factor. nomotheticism and idiographicism -0.8868. Development of a manual. This analysis extracted 9 factors which accounted for 58% of the total variance. and therefore it is called the puristic factor.1. He had used most of the pre- scriptive variables. explicitness and implicitness. Quantitativism. The second factor is associated with positive loadings on irrationalism. although extremely detailed tasks. functionalism and idiographicism. it was a quite unexpected finding. coding and rating.8323 indeterminism and strict determinism . A preference for pure. 1892-1970” reached the level of preliminary orals a few months ago. “A prescriptive analysis of the Presidential address of the American Psychological Association. calculation of reliabilities and so on. and of cycles of prescriptions will be studied. Dominance and counter-dominance. The fifth factor involves only a positive weighting on purism and a negative weighting on utilitarianism. Kenneth Gibson of U N H proposes to study the frequency of acceptance. Usable returns were obtained from 389 or 55%. After completing the study I made arrangements for still another factor analysis involving only data from prescriptive variables.000. with a negative loading on method- ological subjectivism. A proposal for a dissertation. The fourth factor also includes developmentalism but not irrationalism while it is also positively weighted with molarism. the presence and absence of patterns. Patterns across all presidential addresses will be obtained through a correlation matrix of 648 entries. dynamicism. the Bio-Med General analysis program was used which yielded a principal components solution with rotations to provide orthogonal factors. rejection and irrelevance of the prescriptions using the 76 presidential addresses as the material for content analysis. Without realizing it. nomotheticism and inductivism received positive loadings on this factor. PRESCRIPTIONS A S OPERATIVE I N THE HISTORY O F PSYCHOLOGY 321 That between methodological objectivism and methodological subjectivism was . unconscious mentalism. The third factor was reserved for final discussion because while “hanging together” so far as the variables involved. strict determinism and strict indeterminism .0. rather than applied science seems to be the only suitable way of describing it. Each person rated his opinion of each variable along a five-point scale ranging from marked positive emphasis on a given variable to marked rejection. and perhaps is best described as irrationalism. some of you served as respondents to a rating study conducted by Joseph Mirabito for his masters thesis a t U N H since he wrote to all members of the Divisions of History of Psychology and of Philosophical Psy- chology. He wanted to investigate by content analysis the dimensions of certain psychological theoretical positions held by contemporary psychologists drawing upon variables suggested by Coan and by Watson. Indeed the 21 contrasting pairs yielded negative coefficients in all but one instance (functionalism and structuralism) in which a low positive correlation obtained.1. As before. It can only be described as supernaturalistic factor since it has positive loadings on . a total of 711 when overlap was eliminated.0.000. a not surprising state of affairs when the earlier illus- tration of expected simultaneous presence is recalled.8627 and quantita- tivism and qualitativism .

G. Ross.J. 1963. Unpublished doctoral dissertation University of New Hampshire. 1955. social educational economic and political conditions for the original practices of detection and utilization of individual aptitude differences.: Principia Press. The scientific evolution of psychology. 211-217. 7. J . Vol. R. History & Theory. Beiheft 2. 1. hist. 1. Behuu. 1963. Psychologist.R. 1965. Needless to say. However. 22J435-443.... For me. I. de Synthhe.R.322 ROBERT I. Amer.R. G. 1967. W. Rev. I. (2nd ed. Sn‘. hi&. I. Behau. BORING. KANTOR. That a humanistic emphasis could account for their findings seems plausible. .J. I. Dual role of the Zeitgeist in scientific creativity. Psychological thought within the context of the scientific revolution. as do all the results. The individual. That part of the sample supplying the data were members of the Division of Philosophical Psychology and a not inconsiderable proportion of the Division of History of Psychology also have membership in this Division may help to account for this finding. prescriptive theory seems to provide a satisfactorily integrative framework as an approach to the history of psychology. Mon. WATSON indeterminism.Descartes’ psychological views.) Philadelphia: Lippincott. the evidence in support of prescriptive theory seems to me to be encouraging. each of the approaches. Sci. The great psychologists: jrom Aristotle to Freud. 80. JR. pp. E. Chicago.science. 355-368. J. Ill. including prescriptive theory. 1968.R. WATSON. 223-248. 325-337. 49-62. On the limits of “presentism” and “historicism” in the historiography of the behavioral sciences. REFERENCES AQASSI. 1665-1700. provides understanding and explanation of only part of that which influences the history of psychology.. mechanism and determinism. (Re- printed in Psychologist at large. Psychology: a prescriptive science. 1961. New York: Basic Books. WATSON. WATSON.) WATSON. BARBARA. STOCKING. Towards an historiography of. it suggests further investigation.2. A prescriptive analysis of . 1970. 1961. vitalism and supernaturalism and negative loadings on their polar opposites-naturalism. Sci. In closing. 1968. 101-106.