The origins of psychodiagnostics

The need to test and evaluate the individual psychological characteristics of people to solve various practical problems was realized a very long time, at the dawn of human history. So, back in the III millennium BC. in ancient China, there was a system of checking individuals who wanted to take the place of a government official, and in Ancient Babylon some qualities of school leavers were evaluated for the training of scribes. Plato in the Second Book of the "State" there is an assertion that there are no two people born completely equal, each different from the other by natural talents, so that one is suitable for one lesson, and the other is suitable for another. Plato offered tests to identify military capabilities in order to select soldiers in his ideal state. These tests were considered by him as experiencing features essential for military prowess.

However, the history of scientific psychodiagnostics began much later. Psychodiagnostics as an applied science was formed not immediately, but went through a significant path of development and formation. Consider the main steps of this path.

Psychological diagnostics emerged from psychology at the turn of the 20th century. under the impact of practice requirements. Its emergence was prepared by several directions in the development of psychology.

The first of its sources was experimental psychology, because the experimental method underlies psychodiagnostic techniques, the development of which is one of the tasks of psychodiagnostics. Psychodiagnostics grew out of experimental psychology. And its emergence in the 1850's 1870's. is associated with the increased influence of natural science on the field of psychic phenomena, with the process of "physiologicalization" psychology, which consisted in the translation of the study of psychic facts into the channel of experiment and the exact methods of the natural sciences. The first experimental methods of psychology borrowed from other sciences, mainly from physiology.

The beginning of the emergence of experimental psychology is conditionally considered to be 1879, since it was precisely this year that Wundt founded the first laboratory of experimental psychology in Germany. Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920), outlining the prospects for building psychology as an integral science, suggested the development in it of two non-overlapping directions: a natural science based on experiment, and a cultural-historical one, in which the main role is played by psychological methods of studying culture ("psychology of peoples" ;). According to his theory, natural-science experimental methods can only be applied to the elementary, lower level of the psyche. Experimental research is not the soul itself, but only its external manifestations. Therefore, in his laboratory, the sensations (visual, auditory, color sensations, tactile) and the motor actions, called reactions, as well as the sense of time, volume and distribution of attention, were mainly studied. Similar experimental laboratories and offices were created in the laboratory of Wundt, not only in Germany, but also in other countries (France, Holland, England, Sweden, and America).

Developing, experimental psychology came very close to studying more complex mental processes, such as speech associations. They became the subject of the study of F. Galton (1822-1911). English anthropologist F. Galton in 1879 published the results of his associative experiments. Having compiled a list of 75 words, he opened them in front of the subject one by one and included a stopwatch. As soon as the subject responded to the word-irritant with a verbal association, the stopwatch stopped. For the first time chronometry was used to study mental activity. The Galton method was called the "associative test", or "test of verbal associations". (word association test).

Wundt immediately after the publication of Galton used associative techniques in his laboratory, although he believed that the higher functions are not subject to experiment. The individual differences in reaction time obtained in the experiments were explained by the nature of the associations, and not by the individual characteristics of the subjects.

The author who created the first truly psychological experimental method was Hermann Ebbingauz (1850-1909), who studied the laws of memory, using for this purpose sets of meaningless syllables (artificial sensorimotor elements of speech that do not have a specific meaning and therefore do not depend on the past human experience) . He believed that the results he obtained depended on the subject's consciousness, introspection (the individual's observation of what was happening in his psyche) and, consequently, more satisfied with the requirement of objectivity. By this method, Ebbinghaus discovered classical laws of memory and defined the path to experimental learning of skills.

American psychologist James McKeey Cattell (1860-1944) studied the amount of attention and reading skills. With the help of a tachistoscope (a device that allows the subject to present visual stimuli for brief periods of time), he determined the time necessary to perceive and name the various objects - forms, letters, words, etc. The amount of attention in his experiments was of the order of five objects. Carrying out experiments with reading letters and words on a rotating drum, Cattell fixed the phenomenon of anticipation ("running" - perception forward).

So at the turn of the 20th century. in psychology, an objective experimental method, , which began to determine the nature of psychological science in general. With the introduction into psychology of the experiment and the emergence of new criteria for the scientific nature of its ideas, the prerequisites for the generation of knowledge about individual differences between people were created.

Differential Psychology has become another source of psycho-diagnostics. Beyond the concept of individual psychological characteristics, their nature, systematization and descriptions, which differential psychology studies, it would be impossible to create psychodiagnostics as a science about methods of measuring individual psychological characteristics.

But the emergence of psychodiagnostics was not the result of a simple logical development of the experimentally-psychological and differential-psychological study of man. It evolved under the influence of practical demands, first medical and pedagogical, and then industrial. One of the main reasons that led to the emergence of psychodiagnostics, it is necessary to consider the need put forward by medical practice in the diagnosis and treatment of mentally retarded and mentally ill people. The works of the French doctors J. Esquirol and E. Segap, dealing with the problems of children's mental retardation, contributed to the development of methods that helped to determine mental retardation.

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