Psychological theories of the end of the XIX century
Francis Galton's psychological research
Effective attempts to use natural science methods in studying the human psyche, undertaken by a number of researchers in the late nineteenth century, led to the official recognition of psychology as an independent field of scientific knowledge. Actively assisting this process of research by the famous English scientist Francis Galton (1822-1911), the German scientist Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920), his compatriot Hermann Ebbinghaus (1850-1909) and many other scientists of that time had a significant influence on the development of the theory of learning.
One of the pioneers of the empirical approach to studying the human psyche was the English scientist Francis Galton. The main area of his scientific interests was the psychology of giftedness.
F. Galton was born into a family of English aristocrats, received an excellent medical and biological education. According to biographers, in childhood he was a gifted child. His outstanding abilities and striking breadth of interests produced surprising results. F. Galton left a notable trace, except for psychology, in many areas of scientific knowledge: geography, meteorology and even in criminalistics.Contemporaries claimed that the great impression on F. Galton was the work of his cousin Charles Darwin "The Origin of Species." Thanks to what) 'he got carried away with the problem of inheriting talent.
F. Galton was the first to try, using actual material, that outstanding abilities (genius) are the result of action, primarily of hereditary factors. In his famous book, "Heredity of Talent: Its Laws and Consequences," first published at the end of the 19th century, he writes: "... I intend to show that man's natural abilities are inherited by him with the same exact limitations, like the external form and physical attributes in the entire organic world. "
As evidence, he conducts a statistical analysis of the biographical facts of representatives of the British social elite. He examined 977 outstanding people from 300 families. The main reason for high achievements lies, he claims, in the person himself and is transmitted by biological means from generation to generation. He cites data according to which for every ten famous people with outstanding relatives, there are three or four outstanding fathers, four or five distinguished brothers and five or six prominent sons.
Deviations from the conditional norm, according to the belief of the supporter of Darwinism F. Galton, are strictly regulated by the laws of heredity. Thus, in psychology, under the influence of Darwin's evolutionary theory, a new direction arises. One of his basic postulates is the principle of adaptation to the environment, presupposing the operation of the mechanism of natural selection, which directs the mechanism of heredity. The adaptation of the species is achieved due to genetically determined variations of the individual forms that form the species. F. Galton first put forward the proposition that individual differences in psychological order, like physiological differences, can be explained only in the categories of the theory of heredity.
Further development of this direction led F. Galton to the conclusion about the necessity of artificial support and even improvement of intellectual potential in the human community. To do this, natural selection in the human community must give way to "artificial selection". In other words, people should order their own reproduction. F. Galton directly stated that since the time of the Athenian civilization, mankind has degraded due to indiscriminate reproduction. For the human species, he believed, one should do his own improvement and, for this purpose, artificially support the reproduction of people who possess desirable qualities and prevent the reproduction of patients, the mentally retarded, etc.
The variational statistics techniques developed by scientists in the ego, including F. Galton himself, armed psychology with an important methodological tool. The most effective method was the calculation of the correlation coefficient between variables. He allowed to make a conclusion about the magnitude, as well as the degree of randomness of the connection between two different characteristics, for example between the level of intelligence and academic achievement, between the features of the external appearance and the level of cognitive abilities, etc. This method was perfected by the English mathematician Karl Pierson, the result of these innovations became factor analysis. He was widely spread in the psychology of the XX century. (C. Spearman, J. Guilford and others).
From F. Galton, the modern psychodiagnostics and psychometry conduct their pedigree. He was one of the first to introduce the concept of "test" (from English, test - sample). But the theoretical basis of the diagnostic program of F. Galton, and, consequently, the entire methodical apparatus, differed significantly from those that began to dominate later.
F. Galton proceeded from the premise that mental giftedness can be determined by the degree of sensory receptivity. He believed that the higher the possibilities of the understanding, the more subtle the senses perceive and differentiate the differences in the external world. This assertion, in his opinion, was confirmed by the fact that, in idiocy, the sensory abilities of a person are often violated (the ability to distinguish between heat, cold, pain, etc.).
Therefore, his research program focused on the study of levels of mental endowment, presupposed the detection of visual acuity and hearing, physical strength and latent reaction time (ie, the time that passes from the moment when a pre-conditioned signal, for example, a whistle or a whistle, before the answer of the test subject). But the practical verification of his concept and the diagnostic approach built on it (in particular, he carried out an examination of several thousand people at the International Health Exhibition in London in 1884) did not confirm his theoretical assumptions.
Both during life and after it in the opponents of F. Galton there was no shortage, but no matter what criticism was subsequently subjected to his theory, almost all researchers recognized his priority in the "humanizing the nature of genius." The main cause of the greatest spiritual achievements after F. Galton and largely thanks to him, was recognized not any higher being, not blind fate, but factors that can be scientifically, including experimentally, explored, forecasted, purposefully developed.
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