A Brief History of Psychology  book cover
5th Edition

A Brief History of Psychology

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ISBN 9781848728752
Published October 27, 2011 by Psychology Press
316 Pages

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Book Description

This brief, inexpensive text offers the utmost in flexibility in teaching the history of psychology. Used as a stand-alone text or with readers, this engaging book is noted for its analysis of the scientific and philosophical emergence of the field. Readers appreciate the book’s balanced coverage of experimental, applied, and clinical psychology, as well as the clear and succinct presentation of the field’s major events and schools of thought. This edition features an expanded pedagogical program with bolded terms, a complete glossary, more illustrations, and web-based instructional materials including Power Points, a test bank, discussion questions, and more.

Extensively updated throughout, this edition features:

  • A new final chapter with a current analysis of the state of the field including the growth of specialized organizations that promote the science of psychology and the push to influence policies that address global challenges such as environmental sustainability, intergroup conflict, health disparities, and the population explosion.
  • A discussion of the growth in the number and role of women in psychology and the promotion of diversity initiatives related to ethnicity, gender, age, and sexual orientation.
  • Recent developments in the growth of neuroscience, cognitive science, and the diversification of psychology.
  • Portraits of some major figures in the history of psychology.
  • Recent changes in the practice of psychology including more emphasis on "evidence-based practice," prescription privileges, and the application of psychological principles to industrial and engineering psychology.
  • Recent changes in the APA including new divisions and new elected officials.

Used independently or as a supplement with readers, this brief text is intended for undergraduate and graduate courses on the history of psychology. Due to its brevity and engaging style, the book is often used in introductory courses to introduce students to the field. The enormous index and substantial glossary make this volume a useful desk reference for the entire field.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction. Part I: Pre-experimental Psychology. 2. Early Developments 3. The Lines of Development From Science. 4. The Lives of Development from Philosophy. Part II: The Rise of Experimental Psychology. 5. Wundt's Immediate Predecessors. 6. Wilhelm Wundt. 7. The Contemporary Scene in the Age of Wundt. 8. William James and Psychology in the United States. Part III: Psychology in the 20th Century. 9. The Age of Schools. 10. Structuralism and Functionalism. 11. Behaviorism. 12. Gestalt Psychology. 13. Psychoanalysis. 14. The Immediate Postschools Era. 15. The Last Half of the 20th Century. Part IV: Psychology's Promising Past and Enigmatic Future. 16. An Evaluation: Psychology's Promising Past and Enigmatic Future.

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Michael Wertheimer is Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado at Boulder. He received his Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Harvard University. A former president of four APA divisions (history of psychology, teaching of psychology, theoretical and philosophical psychology, and general psychology), he is the recipient of two national awards for the teaching of psychology, and  in 2000 APA’s Division 26 presented him a "lifetime achievement award for sustained, outstanding, and unusual contributions to the history of psychology." Recently a member of the APA Board of Directors, he is co-editor of all seven volumes of the series Portraits of Pioneers in Psychology published by APA, LEA, and now Psychology Press.


"Concise but rich in essentials—and well written besides—this book introduces the core ideas and people in psychology’s history. The book has  never had any competition, from the first edition to the present day." - Dean Keith Simonton, University of California, Davis, USA

"This engaging and well-written account of  psychology’s "long past and brief history" provides a concise introduction to a huge topic. Wertheimer’s deft judgment of relevance, and the admirable balance between generality and the need for illustrative detail, make the book a fine starting point for the study of psychology’s history." - Ryan D. Tweney, Bowling Green State University, USA

"Wertheimer's fifth edition solidifies "A Brief History of Psychology" as the standard from which all texts on the history of psychology will be judged by. It provides a concise yet comprehensive, thoughtful and scholarly approach to psychology both as a science and as a profession."  - Antonio E. Puente,  University of North Carolina Wilmington, USA

"This concise volume presents an extremely readable overview of the history of scientific psychology from the empirical and philosophical developments that provided its early foundations to its ongoing growth and its "enigmatic future." - William Douglas Woody, University of Northern Colorado, USA

"The writing style is clear and concise. It would be appropriate for first–year students in an introductory class as a stand-alone text on historical issues … [or as a] primer to be supplemented with more scholarly readings. … This book would be useful to novices, helping them to establish a basic familiarity with the nature of the discipline." - Barney Beins, Ithaca College, USA

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