Psychology Questions

Question 1

What was the Enlightenment attitude toward science and how did this influence psychology’s history?

Enlightenment period is a crucial period that had considerable influence on science and the modern psychology. It is a period often associated with John Locke who is commonly referred to as the father of the enlightenment. For instance, the period had a significant impact on science since there was the emphasis on verification of scientific observations through scientific procedures. Prior the Enlightenment period, scientific information and knowledge were considered true based on the experts’ opinions. However, after the period was instrumental in changing that perspective where scientific thought and intellectual interchange became the new order. Enlightenment period had little concern for superstitions and traditions, and there was the insistence on the need for scientific prove to any suggested theory (Boeree, 2012). The period brought about scientific methods that were championed by intellectuals that included philosophers such as John Locke, Spinoza, Baruz and Isaac Newton among others. In essence, the Enlightenment attitude had a significant contribution to the modern science where traditional faiths and superstitions were replaced by scientific methods.

On this note, it is also prudent to understand that the modern psychology can also trace its route to the Enlightenment attitude. Psychology is also a science but this time round involves the study of human thinking perspective. The same principles applied in the modern science can also be of great importance in the study of human thinking and behavior. Enlightenment period help understands psychology as a social science where open thinking was fundamental to the study. It is believed that this movement brought about some of the greatest psychology intellectuals Wundt and Galton whose scientific contribution towards the study of psychology is evident to date.  In essence, it is worthy concluding that enlightenment thinkers played a significant role in laying the foundation for the modern psychology.

Question 2

Distinguish between primary and secondary qualities of matter and compare the views of Locke and Berkeley’s with regard to these qualities.

Locke and Berkeley are among the leading contributors to the enlightenment movement. They took their time to have scientific meaning of matter and the qualities of matter but they had different opinions on this subject. Locke is believed to have borrowed from Boyle and Newton or inherited from the Descartes the different between primary and secondary qualities of matter. For instance, primary qualities refer to the properties of an object that are independent of any observer (Goodwin, 2015). The qualities are distinct and definite such as motion, figure, solidity and number just to mention a few.  In essence, primary qualities are factual and can be observed with certain free of debate.

However, Locke and Berkeley refer to secondary qualities of matter as those qualities that that arouse sensation among the observers. Secondary qualities of matter are subjective and not independent of the observer such as color, smell, sound, and taste.  The issue of objectivity is absent in secondary qualities of matter and observers are entitled to their opinion (Boeree, 2012). From Locke and Berkeley view, one can confidently conclude that primary qualities are measurable aspects of the case while the secondary qualities are subjective and highly dependent on the observer.



Question 3

Explain why Descartes is considered (a) a rationalist, and (b) a nativist.

Descartes was a famous French intellect whose contribution to the modern science and psychology is immeasurable. It is, however, worth understanding that he is considered both as a rationalist and a nativist.

  1. A) Descartes as a Rationalist

Being rational is a situation whereby one believes that it is easy to gain knowledge without experiencing the real world. It refers to a situation whereby people believe knowledge derived from reasoning is much better than through experience.  From the Descartes point of view, he thought that it was possible for people to visualize some facts without necessarily having to get into contact with the world.  According to the Descartes, anything that could not be justified through reasoning was not worth being considered as knowledge.  They firmly believed that any that could not be scientifically proved was never real and thus not true. To show this rationalism, Descartes is quoted I think therefore I am” (Malone, 2009). This is a clear indication of his belief that experience was critical to knowledge gathering.

  1. B) Descartes as a nativist

Nativism that is also referred to as innatism is a belief that people are born endowed with certain ideas or knowledge. They firmly believe that no one is born with a blank state of mind, and everyone is a genius in his/her way.   Descartes believed that people were already pre-equipped with knowledge and thus needed no experience for them to get this knowledge. According to the Descartes, these ideas and knowledge are placed before birth by a supreme being and can be utilized after birth. Just as is the case in rationalism, the nativists believe that the ideas from a young one develops and sprouts as the child undergoes the development process (Brett, 2014). Descartes had a strong believe in the cause-effect notion that asserts that all events have a cause.

Question 4

What is the connection between Galton’s beliefs about intelligence and (a) eugenics, and (b) mental testing?

  1. A) Eugenics

The concept of eugenics was brought about by an ancient philosopher referred to as Francis Galton. It is a scientific theory that is concerned with understanding genes and how their transition between different generations. His desire to research on genes was derived from his cousin Charles Darwin, who formulated the evolution theory. Galton strongly believed that intelligence was hereditary and could be transferred from one generation to another(Fletcher & Hattie, 2011). The motivation to bring about eugenics was based on the belief that humankind was slowly deteriorating as a result of the number of children that people were allowed to have. Based on this argument, Galton believed that selective breeding would help maintain a society with the desired mental abilities. Improvement of the human population through promoted production of people with desired traits was the main idea behind the eugenics scientific approach (Brett, 2014). Galton hoped to ensure that undesirable human traits are completely phased out in the word. In essence, eugenics was determined to ensure well-being of the human population.

  1. B) Mental testing

Apart from the selective breeding principle, Galton was also concerned with identifying the different qualities possessed by various human beings and classifying them. To achieve this, Galton had to carry out a mental test that would help him quantify the various qualities evident to different persons. He was to the opinion that intelligence was correlated with sensory acuity, and this explained why women were never successful in piano or wine tasting (Malone, 2009). Galton firmly believed that intelligence was not as a result of being in possession of the right genes, but rather it was as results of individual thoughts.  The body, brain, and physical development were integral components of an intelligent person. For him to prove this, Galton decided to carry out different mental tests to person’s sensory acuity and intelligence (Fletcher & Hattie, 2011). The tests involved measuring different variables such as reflex, strength and whistle blowing to get conclusive results.


Question 5

Describe the essential principles of phrenology and explain why it eventually failed as a science. Be sure to consider the research of Flourens in your answer.

Phrenology is an integral part of the psychology discipline. It is a scientific study of the theory of brain and has been in existence since the 19th century.  The idea of phrenology was first introduced by a Viennese physician called Franz Joseph Gall. This concept was widely discussed in his theories of the idiosyncratic. From his perspective, the brain was referred to as an organ of the mind and significant in understanding human science (Hergenhahn, 2009). It is also prudent to comprehend that through his theories; he acknowledged multiple innate faculties of the mind integral in human thinking. Each of the different faculties is believed to be distinct and separate from any other organ in the brain. It is also prudent that the various organs are ranked according to their sizes and power. It is also on record that this science suggested that the brain’s shape is determined by the development of the various organs. Lastly, the science also asserted that the skull took the shape from the brain and that its surface could be read as an accurate index of the psychological aptitudes and tendencies.

Nevertheless, it is essential noting that the science failed in a number of ways. Firstly, the methods adopted by Francis Gall in the research failed top meat the scientific threshold.   The methods failed to put into consideration various critical research aspects thus making the findings null and void. From the Pierre Flourens research carried out in 1843, it is clear that phrenology assertion that the contours of the skull corresponded to the shape of the brain was completely wrong (Malone, 2009). The phrenology theory has further been criticized by other scientists such as Francis Magendie, who faulted the theory arguing that the theory was mere assertions that lacked scientific backing.



Boeree, C. (2012). The history of psychology. Shippensburg, Penn.: C. George Boeree.

Brett, G. (2014). A History of Psychology. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

Fletcher, R., & Hattie, J. (2011). Intelligence and intelligence testing. London: Routledge.

Goodwin, C., (2015). A history of modern psychology.

Hergenhahn, B. (2009). An introduction to the history of psychology. Australia: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Malone, J. (2009). Psychology. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Do you need an Original High Quality Academic Custom Essay?