Sunday, February 26, 2017


The fifth part of series - Initially Not A Psychologist ...

Granville Stanley Hall

Granville Stanley Hall is regarded as one the most influential psychologists. He is the founder of the American Psychological Association (APA), one of the world’s largest academic bodies of psychology, and helped in establishing psychology as a profession.
Stanley Hall has compiled an outstanding record of firsts in psychology – in 1878, he received the first American doctoral degree in psychology; in 1879, he became the first American to study at Wilhelm Wundt’s laboratory; in 1883, he began the first legitimate psychology research laboratory in the United States; in 1887, he started the first English language journal of psychology (the American Journal of Psychology); in 1892, he organized the American Psychological Association (APA) and became its first president; and he is also known as one of the first applied psychologists.
Even though having such remarkable achievements in the field of psychology, Hall did not actually begin his career in psychology. He, initially, was not a psychologist.
Leading his life in uncertainties, Hall can be said to have begun his proper career as a teacher of English, French, and German literature at Antioch College, Ohio. He also served there as a librarian, choir leader, and preached in the chapel.
Earlier, Hall had joined the Union Theological Seminary, at New York City. He had little interest in being a pastor and left for Germany, where he studied philosophy, theology, physiology, and physics. He also spent a lot of time in theater. Till 1871, at the age of 27, Hall had no proper degree. It was during this time that he got into teaching at Antioch College.
The year 1874, perhaps, can be seen as a turning point in the career of Hall. He read the book, Principles of Physiological Psychology, written by Wilhelm Wundt, which got him interested in psychology. He then took leave from Antioch and settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and became an English teacher at Harvard. He also began graduate studies and did his research in the medical school. In 1878, he completed his dissertation on space perception, and thus, became the first person to have a doctoral degree in psychology, in the United States.
After receiving his doctoral degree, Hall left for Berlin and then Leipzig, to be Wundt’s student. He studied under Wundt during the first year of the psychology laboratory at Leipzig. Even though he was Wundt’s student, he conducted his own research on physiology, and later had little influence of Wundt on him.
When he returned to USA, from Leipzig, he began to emphasize the application of psychology to education, making him one of the pioneers of the psychology of education or educational psychology. He repeatedly urged the authorities at the National Education Association (NEA), USA, to have the psychological study of children as a major component of teaching.
He then delivered a series of lectures on education at Harvard, which eventually led him to be appointed as professor at John Hopkins University, in 1882. In 1883, he established a laboratory, the first legitimate psychology research laboratory in USA. He called it the laboratory of psychophysiology, where he taught a number of students who went on to become significant contributors in psychology.
In 1887, Hall began the American Journal of Psychology, which is the first English language journal of psychology. In 1892, he invited a dozen of psychologists to plan the establishment of an organization, leading to the formation of the American Psychological Association (APA). He was elected as the president, thus making him the founder and first president of the world’s largest academic body of psychology.
Hall started a number of psychology journals, apart from the American Journal of Psychology. In 1891, he started the Pedagogical Seminary (later renamed as Journal of Genetic Psychology); in 1904, he began the Journal of Religious Psychology; in 1910, he began the Journal of Race Development (later known as the Journal of International Relations, which was later called Foreign Affairs); and in 1915, he started the Journal of Applied Psychology. The American Journal of Psychology and the Journal of Applied Psychology are important publications even today.
Stanley Hall can also be credited, to quite an extent, for the worldwide popularity of psychoanalysis. In 1909, he invited Sigmund Freud to deliver a series of lectures on psychoanalysis, at Clark University. The lectures were very well received, and Sigmund Freud was highly appreciated. This was the first time that the American audience was exposed to psychoanalysis. It helped in making psychoanalysis to be known outside Europe and played an important role in making it being accepted as an academic discipline. This also played a role in the rise of the field of clinical psychology.
In 1924, in the year of his death, Stanley Hall was re-elected as the president of the APA. He is only the second psychologist, apart from William James, to have a second term as the president of APA.
Hall has made a number of significant contributions to the field of psychology. He is regarded as one of the pioneers of educational psychology, and one of the major forerunners of applied psychology. He also emphasized the role of genetics and evolution in psychology. Additionally, he is one of the first users of the survey technique, which is still considered to be an important research method in psychology.
From leading a life full of uncertainties, to becoming a teacher of literature, then developing interest in psychology after reading Wundt's book Principles of Physiological Psychology, and then later founding the American Psychological Association, Granville Stanley Hall made a number of remarkable accomplishments in psychology, and become one of the most renowned psychologists ever.

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