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Wade E. Pickren

Alexandra Rutherford

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To Emily and Graham, your idealism and love of living are always an inspiration to us.


We are very pleased that you are reading this book. For the two of us, the task of writing it was a positive challenge. When we agreed to co-author the text, we did so with the understanding that we wanted to write an inclusive history of psychology, not simply another textbook that would tell yet another version of the same familiar story. For us, inclusivity means that we pay attention to the ways that culture, race, ethnicity, and gender have contributed to the making of psychology’s history. We are committed as well to a narrative approach that situates psychology within its larger social, political, and economic contexts that have played out around the globe in different ways over the last 150 years. Our objective is to present psychology as a socially embedded science and profession.

While there is much in our text that will be familiar to those who teach the course in colleges and universities, there is also a great deal of material that is unique. For example, we pay greater attention to the development of psychology in non-Western and even non-Northern hemisphere countries. The study of the growth of psychology in multiple cultural and national contexts is one of the most exciting developments occurring today, and we hope we have begun to place this growth in a historical context. Still, we are sensitized to the reality that much of our book still places American psychology at the center of the story. We have tried, however, to write self-consciously and reflexively, acknowledging wherever possible our standpoint as North American historians of psychology trained in a fairly Eurocentric tradition. We look forward to feedback and comments from our readers on how to improve our narrative for our second edition.

For each of our chapters, we have included a focus story about a person or event that highlights some aspect of the chapter. These are written in an informal style that we hope will be easily accessible and interesting. We have also included a glossary of key terms presented alphabetically at the end of the book. These terms are bolded the first time they appear in each chapter. Each chapter also has a timeline that will help guide students through the events that are discussed in that chapter. Although the overall flow of the book does move from psychology’s early origins to the present day, we do not take a strictly chronological approach in the progression of the chapters. There is significant overlap in terms of time periods covered from chapter to chapter, and since many psychologists made substantive contributions across different areas, some of the same people reappear across chapters. Students, for example, will find Kurt Lewin and Frederic Bartlett in more than one chapter. We hope the timelines help in keeping you organized as you move through the material.

We discovered rather quickly that writing a textbook is the best way to find out how much we don’t yet know! This has made us very appreciative of the rich and ever-expanding body of scholarship on the history of psychology and the human sciences. We are very fortunate to be writing at a time when the quality and quantity of historical scholarship in our field is extremely strong. We are in the debt of our colleagues around the world, both past and present, who have shared so much of their expertise with us over the years.

We especially thank the reviewers of our text. Their comments were insightful, helpful, and saved us from some egregious errors. The second author would especially like to thank Janice Yoder for her careful reading of the entire manuscript, but particularly Chapter 11. Her comments made it a stronger contribution. The errors and weaknesses that remain are entirely ours, of course. We are also deeply thankful to our editor at John Wiley & Sons, Patricia Rossi. She and her skillful staff have prompted and prodded us when necessary and given us room and time when we needed it most.

We would like to acknowledge the expert assistance of three of our former students in the history of psychology, Axelle Karera, Sara Crann, and Meghan George. They helped us prepare the bells and whistles that accompany the text. Thanks as well to Aidin Keikhaee for his assistance with the PowerPoint slides. Many thanks to Lizette Royer at the Archives of the History of American Psychology (AHAP) for her help with many of the photos that grace these pages. AHAP is an incredibly important resource for historians of psychology and depends on the support of all of us who want to see the record of psychology’s past preserved and made accessible to students and scholars alike.

We hope that instructors and students will experience some of the pleasure that we did while writing the book. And, more importantly, we hope that students will gain an even deeper understanding of psychology as they come to understand its history.

Finally, we would like to thank our family and friends for being patient with us as we have put in the hours necessary to produce this volume. Benny was especially forgiving when walks, ball-time, and dinner were delayed because we were still sitting in front of the computer.

Wade Pickren and
Alexandra Rutherford