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Social Factors in the Origins of a New Science: The Case of Psychology

Author(s): Joseph Ben-David and Randall Collins

Source: American Sociological Review, Vol. 31, No. 4 (Aug., 1966), pp. 451-465
Published by: American Sociological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2090769 .
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August 1966 Volume 31, No. 4


Hebrew University, Jerusalem University of California, Berkeley

The uninterrupted growth of a scientific field depends upon the existence of a scientific
community permanently devoting itself to the field. Therefore a new idea is not sufficient to
start the take-off into sustained growth in a new field; a new role must be created as well.
In scientific psychology, this occurred in the late nineteenth century in Germany. Using
Germany as the positive case, and France, Britain and the United States as negative cases,
it is shown that the new role resulted from academic career opportunities favoring the
mobility of practitioners and students of physiology into other fields, and from the relatively
low academic standing of speculative philosophy and its consequent receptivity to persons
and ideas which promised to turn the study of the human mind into an experimental science.

THE PROBLEM subject; the pattern corresponds well with

the intuitive picture one obtains from the
THE growth of scientificdisciplines,as histories of the different sciences.
of many other phenomena,can be repre-
The process, as presented in the accounts
sented by an S-shaped curve.' First
of scientific development, can be presented
there is a long period, going back to pre-
schematically as follows. Ideas beget ideas
history, during which there are various ups
until the time is ripe for a new and coherent
and downs but no continuous growth; this is
system of thought and research to arise.
followed by a spurt of accelerated growth;
Thenceforth the system possesses a life of its
eventually the development slows down and
own. It is identified as a new field of science,
approaches a ceiling.2 This typical pattern
is eventually given a name of its own (such
is obtained whether one uses as the index of
as chemistry or psychology), and grows
growth the numbers of publications, dis-
rapidly into maturity. This still leaves open
coveries, or people doing research in the
the question of beginnings. If the whole story
* This paper is partly based on an M.A. thesis consisted of ideas begetting ideas, then
by Randall Collins (University of California at growth would have to start at an exponen-
Berkeley, 1965). The authors are indebted to Pro- tially accelerating rate (to a point of satura-
fessors David Krech and Harold Wilensky for their
comments and suggestions, and to the Comparative
tion) right from the first relevant idea. Since
National Development Project of the Institute of this does not happen, it has to be assumed
International Studies of the University of California either that only a few ideas are capable of
at Berkeley for financial support. generating new ones-the rest simply being
1 Derek de Solla Price, Little Science, Big Science,
New York: Columbia University Press, 1963, pp. 1- sterile-or that ideas are not self-generating,
32; Gerald Holton, "Scientific Research and Schol- and, even if potentially fertile, have to be
arship: Notes Toward the Design of Proper Scales," carried from person to person and implanted
Daedalus, 91 (Spring, 1962), pp. 362-99. in some special way in order to give rise to
2Although this may be followed by escalation
into further growth, it is unnecessary for the pur- new generation.
pose of the present paper to consider this possibility. Common sense indicates that both state-

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ments are true. Not all original ideas are fer- reach back into prehistory. Explanations of
tile, and some potentially fertile ideas are human thought and behavior are inherent in
lost or left unused because they are not every language; with the rise of philosophies,
communicated effectively. Nevertheless his- more abstract and systematic formulations
tories of science have concentrated on the came into being. Finally, in the nineteenth
first type of explanation. If an idea has no century, the methods of natural science were
historical consequences,the historian of ideas applied to the subject. Using publications
will take it for granted that something must in experimental and physiological psychol-
have been at fault with the idea. Conversely, ogy as an index of the growth of modern
when an idea with a seemingly not-so-bril- scientific psychology, we find that the ac-
liant beginning proves capable of further celeration started about 1870, and that the
growth, he will assume that it must have had period of rapid growth was reached about
hidden qualities which ensured its success. 1890. (Table 1)..5
Obviously he will find no difficulty after the The place where accelerated growth be-
fact in demonstrating the correctness of flis gan can be ascertained from comparisons of
hunches. the growth in different countries. The pat-
In this paper, we shall pursue the other tern is similar to that found in other nine-
tack. Instead of trying to show what in- teenth century sciences. The main develop-
herent qualities made one idea fertile and ment occurs in Germany, to be continued in
another infertile, we shall ask how it hap- the twentieth century in the United States,
pened that at a certain point in time the with a much more modest growth in Britain.
transmission and diffusion of ideas relating For a while France also seems to develop
to a given field became strikingly increased strongly, but production there declines soon
in effectiveness. Instead of contemplating after the initial spurt around the turn of the
the internal structure of intellectual muta- century (Table 2.) Moreover, French de-
tions,3 we shall concentrate on the environ- velopment seems to have been isolated from
mental mechanisms which determine the the mainstream; it has been quoted in major
selection of mutations. Specifically, we pos- textbooks less than its relative share in pro-
tulate that: (1) the ideas necessary for the duction of publications would indicate.
creation of a new discipline are usually avail- (Table 3).
able over a relatively prolonged period of These are the data to be explained. Since
time and in several places;4 (2) only a few the conditions under which something new
of these potential beginnings lead to further is created are not necessarily the same as the
growth; (3) such growth occurs where and conditions under which the innovation is ef-
when persons become interested in the new fectively received somewhere else, we shall
idea, not only as intellectual content but confine ourselves to the explanation of the
also as a potential means of establishing a take-off, and leave the analysis of the dif-
new intellectual identity and particularly a fusion of the new field for another discussion.
new occupational role; and (4) the condi-
tions under which such interest arises can PROCEDURE
be identified and used as the basis for
eventually building a predictive theory. Originally the subject matter of psychol-
ogv was divided between speculative Dhi-
5These publications do not represent the total
number of reports of experimental and physiologi-
The earliest beginnings of psychology cal researches in psychology, but rather review ar-
ticles, books, and papers dealing with the theory
This is not to say that such contemplation is and methodology of experimental and physiological
necessarily useless. Its potential utility depends on psychology. Complete tables of research reports are
finding identifiable characteristics which predict not available for this period; however, this particu-
what is and what is not a "fertile" idea. lar bibliography may be more useful for our pur-
4This accords with the oft-noted phenomenon of poses than they would have been. It represents a
multiple discoveries in science. Cf. Robert K. Mer- set of self-conscious summaries of scientific work
ton, "Singletons and Multiples in Scientific Discov- in the field; therefore it indicates the rise of interest
ery: A Chapter in the Sociology of Science," Pro- in scientific psychology better than would a collec-
ceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 105 tion of researches which may not at the time have
(1961), pp. 471-486. been considered relevant to psychology.

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Decade German French British American Other Total
1797-1806 1 1 2
1807-1816 2 1 3
1817-1826 1 3 4
1827-1836 4 3 2 9
1837-1846 11 4 2 1 18
1847-1856 15 2 6 1 .. 24
1857-1866 16 8 7 3 34
1867-1876 38 11 15 1 4 69
1877-1886 57 22 17 9 12 117
1887-1896 84 50 13 78 21 246
Source: J. Mark Baldwin (ed.), Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology, New York: Macmillan,
1905, vol. III, Part 2, pp. 950-64.

losophy and physiology. Towards 1880, spe- try to show, however, that the new scien-
cialized psychological publications came to tific identity may precede and indeed make
constitute the bulk of the work in the field, possible the growth in scientific production.
and philosophical psychology was widely At least in the rise of the new psychology,
disparaged by the "new psychologists."6 social factors played an important role, in-
The acceleration of production was asso- dependently of intellectual content.
ciated with a growing consciousness among The first step is to determine the persons
these men of the existence of a distinct field who consciously identified themselves as
of psychology, and of the need for distin- practitioners of a new science investigating
guishing their work from traditional fields. mental phenomena by means of empirical
It is usually assumed that the emergence of methods such as experimentation, systema-
a new group devoting itself to a new spe- tical observation, and measurement, (irre-
cialty is an effect of intellectual growth. spective of whether they called themselves
As knowledge in a field increases, no one is "psychologists" or "experimental philoso-
able to master all of it any more, and spe- phers"). Operationally, there are three con-
cialization is the necessary result. We shall ditions for the existence of such a new sci-
6 Richard Miiller-Freienfels, Die Hauptrichtung
entific identity: (1) the person must do
der gegenwirtigen Psychologie, Leipzig: Quelle & empirical work in the subject matter of
Meyer, 1929, pp. 3-6. psychology; (2) he must not have some


Years German Total American British French Other Total
1896-1900 764 745 .... ... 709 270 2494
1901-1905 1119 747 .... ... 660 210 2781
1906-1910 1508 941 .... ... 478 158 3185
1911-1915 1356 1090 .... ... 376 160 2982
1916-1920 386 1639 .... ... 159 191 2395
1921-1925 1163 1850 .... ... 326 315 3653
1926-1930 1761 2654 .... .. 428 913 5951
1931-1935 1362 3371 .... ... 472 975 6376
1936-1940 1160 .... 3238 328 299 747 6330
1941-1945 216 .... 3411 296 72 299 4465
1946-1950 203 .... 4257 346 246 560 5662
1951-1955 459 .... 5955 557 502 572 8385
Source: Samuel W. Fernberger, "Number of, Psychological Publications in Different Languages,"
American Journal of Psychology, 30 (1917), 141-50; 39 (1926), 578-80; 49 (1936), 680-84; 59 (1946),
284-90; 69 (1956), 304-09.

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Text Total English German French Other
Ladd, Elements of Physiological Psychology, 1887. 100.0 (420) 21.1 70.0 7.4 0.5
Ladd & Woodworth, 2nd edition, 1911. 100.0 (581) 45.6 47.0 5.2 2.2
Woodworth, Experimental Psychology, 1938. 100.0 (1735) 70.9 24.5 3.1 1.5
Woodworth & Schlosberg, 2nd edition, 1954. 100.0 (2359) 86.1 10.9 2.5 0.5

other clearly established scientific identity, Those who were not themselves the stu-
such as physiologist; (3) he must be a part dents of psychologists, but who trained their
of an on-going group of scientific psycholo- own disciplines as psychologists, are the
gists, rather than an isolated individual. founders of the new discipline of psychology.
Taking these points in order: (1) The Their disciples are the followers. The latter
first group to be excluded are speculative two classes can be considered psychologists
philosopherssuch as Descartes, Locke, Hart- proper. What we have referred to as "dis-
ley, Herbart, and even Lotze as well as cipleship"-the fact of having studied under
various "social philosophers."However much a man, or having worked under him as a
they may have theorized about the use of laboratory assistant-is, we believe, an ade-
empirical methods, they are not classified quate measure of the existence of a consci-
as scientific psychologists if they did not ously self-perpetuating identity, a "move-
actually use such methods. (2) Also ex- ment" or discipline. The use of purely
cluded are those natural scientists, princi- objective criteria in establishing such lines of
pally physiologists, whose experiments can descent has the disadvantage that we may
be retrospectively included in psychology, misjudge the extent of actual influence and
but whose identification was clearly with the identification, but the overall picture should
natural sciences. Psychiatrists are also ex- be accurate.
cluded: at the time in question, they be- The names to be classified are taken from
longed to a medical discipline which was five histories of psychology, including ones
quite independent of philosophy, and thus written in each of the countries to be exam-
of psychology. Moreover, their theories were ined.8 For Germany and the United States,
rather self-consciously based on the views of all names between 1800 and 1910 were
nineteenth-century medical science.7 taken. Beyond the latter date, the numbers
(3) Finally, we must make an operational of psychologists in these countries become
distinction among three categories of per- so great that the histories are necessarily se-
sons: forerunners, founders, and followers. lective; moveover, scientific psychology was
The first two are distinguished by whether well into its second and third generations in
or not they had students who became psy- these countries by this point. For Britain
chologists. An example of a forerunnerwould and France, all names between 1800 and
be the scientific dilettante-such as Francis
8 Germany: Mifller-Freienfels, op. cit.; France:
Galton. These men did not consider them-
Fernand-Lucian Mueller, Historie de la Psychologie,
selves psychologists, nor were they so identi- Paris: Payot, 1960; Britain: John C. Flugel, A
fied by their contemporaries.Generally they Hundred Years of Psychology, 2nd edition, Lon-
remained isolated from any specific disci- don: Duckworth, 1951; United States: Edwin G.
pline until historians of the science-which Boring, A History of Experimental Psychology,
was created by other forces-offered them a 2nd ed., New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts,
1950; Robert I. Watson, The Great Psychologists,
posthumous home. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1963. Russia has not been
treated in this analysis. The number of its contribu-
7 Gregory Zilboorg, A History of Medical Psy- tions to psychological literature until recent years
chology, New York: Norton, 1941, pp. 400, 411-12, has been very small; its great innovators, Sechenov,
434-35, 441. Breuer and Freud were developing a Pavlov and Bekhterev, were all physiologists and
psychological psychiatry at the end of the nine- would therefore have been excluded from the popu-
teenth century, but there was no contact (except of lation of psychologists. They provide good exam-
the most negative kind) between Freudianism and ples of persons whose work could be integrated into
German academic psychology for many decades scientific psychology only because subsequent devel-
thereafter. opments elsewhere created such a discipline.

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1940 were taken, since the numbersof names Groos appears rather late to be an indige-
involved were much smaller than for either nous developer, having habilitated in 1889,
Germany or the United States. Scientific nine years after Ebbinghaus,who was the last
psychology became established in Britain or of other self-starters. In any case, he cannot
France considerably later than in the other be considereda founder,as he gave rise to no
two countries.9 following. This brings us down to five men
who can be regarded as the founders of sci-
RESULTS entific psychology in Germany: Wilhelm
Wundt, Franz Brentano, G. E. Muller, Carl
Figures 1-4 show the population of sci- Stumpf, and Hermann Ebbinghaus.
entific psychologists for each country in the In Britain, the biologists C. Lloyd Morgan
form of genealogical charts.10A great many and George Romanes were excluded, as well
names of physiologists and philosophers had as the statistician Karl Pearson. Francis
to be excluded from the histories of German Galton, who instigated
psychological testing
psychology, among them many of the most in Britain but whose scientific interests ex-
eminent men in those fields in the nineteenth tended from geographical exploration to
century. In Germanyour population includes chemistry, photography, and statistics, and
32 names, five of which have no predecessors who left no school of psychologists to carry
on the chart (Figure 1). Two names do not on is also omitted. This leaves 9 names in
appear in the figure. Gustav Fechner has all British psychology, virtually all of whom
of the characteristics of an innovator save go back to the German
innovators, Wundt
one: he gave rise to no personal school of and Milller (Figure 2). The
exceptions are
followers, although, as will be seen, he influ- G. H. Thomson who is not shown in the
enced some of the founders. On balance, he figure, who took his degree at Strassburg (a
was probably more of a forerunner than a Germanuniversity at the time) in
1906; and
founder, as one cannot say that his innova- W. H. R. Rivers, who studied with
tion of psychophysics would have been de- Hearing,a physiologist closely identified with
veloped into a discipline of experimentalpsy- the "new psychology" in Germany. But by
chology if an institutionally-basedmovement the 1890's, one could hardly study in Ger-
had not been founded subsequently." Karl many without becoming aware of the new
9 Information about biographies and careers has developments, and Rivers cannot be called
been drawn from the five histories of psychology an originator of experimental methods in
cited above (especially Boring) and from: Mollie the field of psychology.
D. Boring and Edwin G. Boring, "Masters and In France, the names of numerous psy-
Pupils among American Psychologists," American chiatrists and some physiologists and biolo-
Journal of Psychology, 61 (1948) 527-34; Carl
Murchison (ed.), A History of Psychology in Auto- gists were excluded, leaving 10 names (Fig-
biography, Vols. I-IV, Worcester, Massachusetts: ure 3). Two men comprisingthe Swiss school
Clark University Press, 1930-1952; Carl Murchison can be traced back to Wundt; one-Victor
(ed.), Psychological Register, Vols. II and III, Henri-worked with Mifller, although he
Worcester, Massachusetts: Clark University Press,
1929-1933; Minerva: Jahrbuch der Gelehrten
had previously worked with Alfred Binet-
Welt, Leipzig: 1892-. "Germany" is taken to in- had developed by the mid-nineteenth century. In
clude Austria and the German-speaking universities 1850, he took up the physiologist E. H. Weber's
of Switzerland and Central Europe; "France" in- experiments on touch and muscle sense, in an at-
cludes French-speaking Switzerland and Belgium. tempt to establish mathematical laws of percep-
10 Clearly, those charts do not represent the total tion. This research, however, was an integral part
population of such psychologists for this period, of Fechner's pantheistic system; the laws of psycho-
and men may appear to have no psychological fol- physics were intended to give a demonstrable proof
lowers only because they are not listed in the texts to his belief that mind and matter were aspects of
from which the names are drawn. Nevertheless, we the same thing, and he went on to propose an ex-
feel justified in using this form of measurement of planation of the entire physical world as composed
the rise of a discipline, because the visibility of the of souls related to each other by material bodies.
men who form such a movement is an important Cf. Robert I. Watson, The Great Psychologists,
factor in its existence. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1963, p. 215, and E. G.
" Fechner was a retired physicist who devoted Boring, "Fechner: Inadvertent Founder of Psycho-
many years to writing pantheistic, anti-materialistic physics," in E. G. Boring, History, Psychology, and
philosophical works. His writings met with little Science: Selected Papers, New York: Wiley, 1963,
success, due to the reaction against Idealism that pp. 126-131.

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The self-starters appear to be Theodule- In France, then, there appear to be a
Armand Ribot, Henri Beaunis, Pierre Janet. number of figureswithout direct antecedents
Ribot cannot be considered a major innova- among the German psychologists. Some of
tor, as he made his reputation by publicizing them were obviously influenced by the Ger-
German psychology, and was given the first mans, others had ideas of their own. Had
chair of Experimental Psychology in France ideas been enough, the French school might
in 1889 as a result; he remainedby and large have become an effective rival to the Ger-

1850 1860 1870 1880 1890 1900

A. Iirschmann,
.lbiins terberva
* IsIJ.
Lan Ae
rA ~~~~~~~Leluzi~ann
/ iG~~~~~~~~.
|F.K'e.eso w

W*J.Wundt+G .Seumiann
~~ ~~ ~~A.J.lf~~~~Ii-rth
\ F ,Il~~~~~~~~~~~~.M~arbe
/ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~. BI~rhier
. Mayer
0 . Iulpe - .
/ tZ~~~~~~~~7.

G-. F.Scuin
fllerl'~A. Pilzecker
C. StUmpf i__ V Benuss i
WT.S tern


A . leinong
C.v. Ehrenfels
F. Brentano A.118fler

K. Groos

a speculative philosopher. Beaunis was a man school. But the French development
physiologist who set up the first psychologi- from the German in that there was no con-
cal laboratory in France in the same year; tinuity in France. Ribot and Beaunis each
again, it is difficult to assign Beaunis a role had but one important follower and Janet
as an independent innovator since a rash of had two. This relative lack of descent re-
laboratory-foundingshad already been going sulted from a lack of interest in creating new
on in Germany and the United States for a roles for the new ideas. As will be shown
decade. Janet was an M.D. who succeeded later, those working in the new field were
to Ribot's chair in 1902 at the College de content to remain philosophers, psychia-
France; he was primarily a psychiatrist, trists, or broad-gauged scientific intellect-
however, and maintained a private practice uals, often interested in finding a scientific
throughout his career. solution to some practical problem, like

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1850 1860 1870 1880 1890 1900

(W.Wund-_ - W.G.Srnith J.Drever

(G.E.til I er) C.E.Spea rmn

K\u Pup
e) -H. J. Vl~att

\ -C.Bu~~~~frt

; .Brown
W.McDougall7C. S .Myers


EST DEGREE, 1850-1909.

Binet. They did not attempt, therefore, to Finally, in the United States virtually
create a coherent and systematic "para- all excluded figures were speculative philos-
digm," and to transmit it to the next ophers, among them George T. Ladd and
generation2 John Dewey. Very few American physiolo-
12 Cf. Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scien-
gists or other natural scientists appeared in
tific Revolutions, Chicago: University of Chicago the histories. The remaining 37 figures, pre-
Press, 1963, for a discussion of how sciences are sented in Figure 4, were overwhelmingly
able to make cumulative advances because they are influencedby the Germaninnovators, partic-
integrated around a particular "paradigm" or model ularly Wundt. Only one name lacks an ante-
of scientific reality, with its implied methodology
and research directions. Of course, it can be argued cedant: William James, who began as a
that psychology even today still lacks overwhelm- physiologist and set up a small demonstra-
ing consensus around a central, reality-defining tion laboratory at Harvard in 1875 which he
theory of the sort that Kuhn means by a "para- later claimed was the first psychological lab-
digm," and that the term should be used only in
such fields as physics which do have such a theory.
oratory in the world. He became Professor
We have used the term here more broadly, to refer of Philosophy at Harvard in 1885, and had
to the necessity of a new discipline to have at least his title changed to Professor of Psychology
minimal consensus on the boundaries of the subject only in 1889. James is the closest America
matter upon which its practitioners will focus their
attention, and on an acceptable range of research comes to an indigenous development in psy-
methods. chology, but his work was largely an exposi-

1850 1860 1870 1s80 1890 1900

(W .Wundt) T. Flou-.noy

E. Clapareda

P.Janet C.Blondel

H. Beaunis A. Binet -1L. Pieron

(G.E.kifUller) V.H{enri

T.Ribot G.Durnas

DEGREE, 1850-1909.

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1850 1860 1870 1880 1890 1900

f.M. Stratton
r.I. Cattell LWitmer
. S .Woodwortl


-B.Tiitc:ene12 IF .Washbui_ p e
I ippl
i?.Ange~ ~ ~ ~~~~~~(01
. 4

(W.Wundt) F.Angell
E.W. Scripture-C.E.Seashore
C.A. Judd
\J ..Baldwin

\ (I.LMUnsterberg .M4.Yerkes


W.James E.L.Thorndike
J .R.Angel1 T.jJ B .Watson

.C.Sanford L.M.Terlan
J .Jastrow
G.T.W. Patrick
\ / Z~~~~W
. L. Bryan
\ / ~~~~~T.L.
. S .Ral J . eba

. J. Kinnaraan
WU.S . Smal I

(C.Stumpf _Meyer
ZS.E. Sharp
EST DEGREE, 1850-1909.

tion of European ideas and discoveries (he any important contributions from American
had visited Germany in 1869, while prepar- philosophers or natural scientists, experi-
ing to teach physiology); he himself became mental psychology suddenly sprang up in
increasingly interested in philosophy during the United States, transplanted from Ger-
the time that experimental psychology was many.
developing in America. (All of James' major Germany, then, is where the crucial con-
philosophical works date from 1897, when ditions for the innovation of scientific psy-
his title was changed back to professor of chology are to be sought. Ideas which could
Philosophy.) The first generation of experi- have given rise to a cumulative tradition
mentalists were almost entirely students of could be found outside of Germany. In fact,
Wundt, including G. Stanley Hall, who did towards the end of the nineteenth century,
not take his degree with Wundt. Hall in France nearly rivalled Germany as a center
1881 set up the first functioning psychologi- for such ideas. But as shown in Table 2,
cal laboratory in the U. S. at Johns Hopkins French production declined rapidly after a
after returning from a visit with the German momentary peak around 1900, while Ger-
psychologists, and the lines to succeeding man, American, and, to a much lesser ex-
generations can be clearly traced. Without tent, British work continued to grow. Fig-

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ures 1-4 indicate that only in Germany had stance is a case of role-hybridization:the in-
there developed an autonomous network for dividual moving from one role to another,
the regular transmissionand reception of the such as from one profession or academic
new ideas. Subsequently the U. S. and later field to another, may be placed at least
Britain linked up with this network, and the momentarily in a position of role conflict.14
U. S. eventually became its center. France This conflict can be resolved by giving up
only partially linked up with it and it did the attitudes and behaviors appropriate to
not develop a network of its own. In the the old role and adopting those of the new
absence of such a network, innovations re- role; in this case, identification with the old
mained isolated events; only the existence reference group must be withdrawn. How-
of networks could make them into a cumula- ever, the individual may be unwilling to give
tive process.13 up his identification with his old reference
We shall not here follow the entire story group, as it may carry higher status (intel-
of the creation of communication networks lectual as well as perhaps social) than his
and their diffusion from country to country, new group. In this case, he may attempt to
but shall confine ourselves to the original resolve the conflict by innovating, i.e. fitting
establishment of the German network. For the methods and techniques of the old role
this purpose, all the other countries will be to the materials of the new one, with the de-
treated as negative instances, with Germany liberate purpose of creating a new role.
as the sole positive case. The question to be Examples of scientific roles created by this
answered is: Why did an effective network process are psychoanalysis, which was cre-
for the communication of these new ideas ated by a man who moved from the presti-
develop only in Germany? gious profession of scientific research to the
relatively lower-status occupation of Ger-
man medical practice; Freud attempted to
The answer is that the conditions for the maintain his status by trying to raise medi-
establishmentof a new professionalrole vari- cal practice into a form of scientific research,
ety, committed to the new field, existed only and as a result created psychoanalysis. Sim-
in Germany. Ideas which are not cultivated ilarly, Pasteur gave rise to bacteriology by
by people whose regularjobs are to cultivate maintaininghis theoretical perspectives after
them are like souls hovering in a mythologi-
cal limbo before entering a body. They can 14 Joseph Ben-David, "Roles and Innovations in
light upon the dreams or the imagination of Medicine," American Journal of Sociology, 65
one person here and another one there, of (1960), pp. 557-68. John T. Gullahorn and Jeanne
E. Gullahorn, "Role Conflict and its Resolution,"
someone who lives today or of someone else Sociological Quarterly, 4 (1963), pp. 32-48, have
who will be born in a thousand years. If, distinguished between two kinds of role conflict:
however, ideas become the end-products of "status-produced role conflict," in which the occu-
scientific roles, they can be likened to genes pant of a single status position is subjected to con-
flicting expectations by the different persons with
which are transmitted from generation to whom he deals, and "contingent role conflict," in
generation through a reliable and natural which the conflicts arise from the simultaneous oc-
process; under normal conditions, they will cupancy of two statuses. Most of the discussions in
not only survive but increase. the literature have dealt with the first variety, e.g.
Robert K. Merton, "The Role-Set: Problems in
There are several ways in which new sci- Sociological Theory," British Journal of Sociology,
entific role varieties arise. The present in- 8 (1957), pp. 106-120; and Neal Gross, Ward S.
Mason, and Alexander W. MacEachern, Explora-
13 A further indication of the
weakness of the tions in Role Analysis, New York: Wiley & Sons,
French system is the relatively greater mortality of 1958. We are distinguishing a third kind of role
French psychological journals. Between 1850 and conflict, resulting from mobility rather than from
1950, 70 per cent of the psychological journals be- the "static" situations indicated above. See Peter M.
gun in France had ceased, as compared to 50 per Blau, "Social Mobility and Interpersonal Relations,"
cent for the United States, 51 per cent for Ger- American Sociological Review, 21 (1956), pp. 290-
many (before 1934, excluding the many stoppages 95. For a discussion of why scientists would tend to
during the Nazi era), and 21 per cent for Britain. identify with a traditional discipline rather than
Cf. Robert S. Daniel and Chauncey M. Louttit, with an emerging specialty of lower prestige, see
Professional Problems in Psychology, New York: Warren 0. Hagstrom, The Scientific Community,
Prentice-Hall, 1953, pp. 25, 358-74. New York: Basic Books, 1965, pp. 53, 209.

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moving into research on wine fermentation, attract a sizable following, it is usually not
and elaborated his discovery into a new enough (except perhaps in cases of striking
specialty. utility, such as bacteriology), that an indi-
Mobility of scholars from one field to an- vidual innovator be placed in a situation of
other will occur when the chances of success role conflict. The conditions have to be gen-
(i.e., getting recognition, gaining a full chair eral so as to ensure a widespreadresponse to
at a relatively early age, making an out- the innovation. The motivation of the man
standing contribution) in one discipline are who merely joins such a movement is quite
poor, often as a result of overcrowdingin a similar to that of the man who begins it-
field in which the number of positions is moving into a discipline of lower standing
stable. In such cases, many scholars will be than his old one, he is likely to welcome the
likely to move into any related fields in opportunity to raise his status through
which the conditions of competition are bet- adopting the innovation. Even more impor-
ter. In some cases, this will mean that they tantly, the existence of such relationshipsbe-
move into a field with a standing relatively tween disciplines may have a vicarious ef-
lower than their original field.15This creates fect upon individuals within the system who
the conditions for role conflict. Of course, do not personally move from the high-status
not everyone placed in such a position will discipline to the low-status discipline. For
choose to or be able to innovate a new role, example, the younger men in the low-status
nor is it possible to predict exactly which field may attempt to upgrade themselves by
individuals will do so. It is possible, how- borrowingthe methods of a high-status field.
ever, to say that the chances of such a major The simplest way to upgrade themselves
innovation occurring in a discipline into would be to move to the other field, but they
which there is mobility from a higher-status are restrained from doing this by the differ-
discipline are considerably greater than in a ences in competitive conditions. If they do
discipline into which there is no such mobil- not make the innovation themselves, they
ity, or which stands higher in status than the may be very receptive to an innovation by a
discipline from which mobility takes place. migrating scientist. Even young scholars who
For example, if physiology has higher stand- have not yet chosen a field, knowing the rel-
ing in an academic system than philosophy, ative prestige and conditions of competition
but competitive conditions are better in the in the several fields, will be attracted to the
latter than in the former, one might expect new hybridized role.
a role-hybridization in which physiological It is important to distinguish role-hybrid-
methods will be applied to the material of ization from what might be termed "idea-
philosophy (at their most adjacent point, hybridization," the combination of ideas
psychology) in order to differentiate the in- taken from different fields into a new intel-
novator from the more traditional practi- lectual synthesis. The latter does not at-
tioners of the less respected discipline. This tempt to bring about a new academic or pro-
would not be expected if philosophy's status fessional role, nor does it generally give rise
were equal or higher, or if the competitive to a coherent and sustained movement with
conditions in philosophy were equal or worse a permanent tradition.
than those in physiology. Antecedents of modern psychology as far
Moreover, since a major academic inno- back as Descartes had discussed psychologi-
vation has a chance of success only if it can cal functioning in a physiological perspec-
tive, but without giving rise to any move-
15 For the scholar or scientist, this is not simply a ment to extend these ideas as other sciences
matter of social status or prestige, but rather of the were doing with their respective materials.
effectiveness or ability of the field to make progress Similar connections were made by the Brit-
as judged by its own intellectual standards. Cf.
Hagstrom, op. cit., pp. 9-104, for a theoretical ex- ish associationists, from John Locke and
position of science as a form of social organization David Hartley up to Alexander Bain, James
in which competition for recognition by the col- Ward, and James Sully at the end of the
league group is a prime mechanism of control; see
19th century, but without giving any indica-
also pp. 208-220 for a general discussion of discipli-
nary differentiation. tion that a continuous scientific tradition

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would ever result from these theories. In per university in a system comprising 19 uni-
Germany, Herbart and Lotze certainly fall versities before 1870 and 20 after 1870.16
into this category, along with Fechner, who Table 4 shows that physiology, with approx-
introduced experimental methods into philo- imately half as many chairs as philosophy,
sophical psychology in the 1850's with his added only two full chairs from 1873-1910,
psychophysics, but who did not thereby whereas philosophy, already the largest field
create any movement to reform the role of in the universities, added eight. The number
the psychologist-philosopher.Galton in Eng- of Extraordinary Professors and Privatdo-
land, and in France, such men as Ribot, zents in physiology grew much more rapidly
Beaunis, and Binet must be consideredmore during this period than in philosophy. But
"idea-hybrids" than "role-hybrids"; rather these were poorly paid and largely honorific
than creating a new role, they merely added positions; their number indicates something
another facet to the established role of the of the competitive pressures in these fields
multi-purpose intellectual such as had ex- for the truly desirablepositions, the full pro-
isted in these countries since the seventeenth fessorships. Advancement was particularly
century. Finally, William James in the difficult in physiology, since most of its full
United States would fall into the category chairs, having been created at about the
of an "idea-hybrid," particularly since he same time, were filled with men of about
finally decided on the traditional role of the same age who held them for decades.'7
philosopher rather than the new role of sci- Table 5 shows that in the 1850's, the chances
entific psychologist. of becoming a full professor were better for
those habilitating in the medical sciences
than in the philosophical disciplines. In the
In the German universities of the 19th next decade, however, the situation was re-
century, physiology was a highly productive, versed and the relative competitive situation
expanding science. One of its greatest peri- within the medical sciences steadily wors-
ods of productivity took place between 1850
and 1870, when most of the chairs of physi- 16 Awraham Zloczower, Career Opportunities and
ology were first split off from anatomy. Fif- the Growth of Scientific Discovery in Nineteenth
teen chairs were created between 1850 and Century Germany with Special Reference to Physi-
ology, unpublished M.A. thesis, Department of So-
1864. After that date, the field rapidly ciology, Hebrew University, 1960.
reached a limit of approximately one chair 17 Ibid.



Field and
Academic Position 1864 1873 1880 1890 1900 1910 1920 1931 1938
Ordinary Professor 36 40 43 44 42 48 56 56 36
Extraordinary Professor 21 16 12 14 14 23 30 51 34
Dozents 23 21 18 19 25 43 45 32 21

Total 81 79 75 81 85 117 140 163 117

Ordinary Professor 15 19 20 20 20 21 24 27 21
Extraordinary Professor 3 3 4 66 9 12 15 24 18
Dozents 9 1 2 7 20 27 22 23 15

Total 27 23 27 33 49 61 66 80 67
Note: In the German university system, the rank of Ordinary Professor is equivalent to Full Profes-
sor and Extraordinary Professor to Associate Professor. Dozents are private lecturers.
Source: Christian von Ferber, Die Entwicklung des Lehrkorpers der deutschen Universitaten ind
Hochschulen, 1864-1954, vol. III in Helmut Plessner (ed.), Untersuchungen zur Lage der deutschen
Hochschullehrer, Gottingen: Van den Hoeck, 1953-56, pp. 204, 207.

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Extra- Per cent
Ordinary ordinary Privat- remaining
Year and Faculty Professors Professors dozents Total dozents
Medicine 57 19 15 91 16. 5
Philosophy 53 13 15 83 18.1
Medicine 72 44 37 153 24.2
Philosophy 68 24 22 114 19.3
Medicine 94 74 53 221 24.0
Philosophy 138 24 26 188 13.8
Medicine 89 59 64 212 30.2
Philosophy 118 25 36 179 20.1
Medicine 131 57 138 326 42.3
Philosophy 162 33 66 261 25.3
Medicine 184 48 249 481 51.8
Philosophy 142 25 75 242 31.0
Source: von Ferber, op. cit., p. 81.

ened through the rest of the century. Clearly, Berlin, he banded together with a group of
from about 1860 on, philosophy offered young scientists (including Emil Du Bois-
much more favorable competitive conditions Reymond, Ernst Brucke, and Carl Ludwig),
than did physiology. The first condition for who swore to uphold the principle: "No
the occurrence of role-hybridization was other forces than common physical chemical
thus present. ones are active in the organism."19 By the
The second condition was provided by the 1860's, the scientists were near to extinguish-
trend of the prestige conflict that raged be- ing the academic reputation of philosophy
tween philosophy and the natural sciences and its "super-science"pretensions.20
throughout the nineteenth century in Ger- Wundt began his career as a physiologist
many. Before 1830, the great systems of in 1857, at the height of the competition for
Idealism claimed for philosophy the position the new chairs being created in physiology.
of a super-science,deriving by speculation all He remained a Dozent for 17 years, how-
that might be painstakingly discovered by ever, and after being passed over for the
empirical methods. But these pretensions chair of physiology at Heidelberg in 1871,
were shattered by the rapidly expanding made the transition to philosophy.21 This
natural sciences, led first by the chemists, transition was made in 1874 with the chair
then by the physiologists. Paulsen notes the at the University of Zurich, which served as
contempt in which speculative philosophy something of a "waiting-room"for appoint-
came to be held after the rise of the sciences ments to one of the great universities in Ger-
in the 1830's, a contempt which was reced- many proper. On the strength of his Physio-
ing only at the end of the century.18 Her- logical Psychology in that year, he won a
mann von Helmholtz, the physicist and first-class chair of philosophy at Leipzig in
physiologist, was the leading propagandist 1875.
for the scientific attack on philosophical Before Wundt began to take philosophv
speculation; in his student days in 1845 in
19 Edwin G. Boring, op. cit., p. 708.
18Friedrich Paulsen, The German Universities 20
G. Stanley Hall, Founders of Modern Psychol-
and University Study, New York: Longmans Green, ogy, New York: Appleton, 1912, p. 138.
1906. 21 Edwin G. Boring, op.
cit., p. 319.

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as a second referencegroup, he was doing the tion" most clearly. The others, originally
same kind of things that Helmholtz, Hering, philosophers, put the position less strongly
Frans Donders, and many other physiolo- and had smaller personal followings. Yet
gists were doing-experimenting on the they were role-hybrids to some extent, as
functions of the sense-organs and the nerv- clearly appears when one compares them
ous system, and occasionally pointing out with Fechner. The latter had the decisive
that their work made speculative philosophy idea, but was content to write about it and
a superfluousanachronism.Wundt had once submit it to what Derek de Solla Price calls
been an assistant to Helmholtz, the leader "the general archives of science." The phi-
of the anti-philosophicalmovement; Wundt's losophers, however, influenced by the exam-
move into philosophy must have been an ple of Wundt, used it for the creation of a
acute identity crisis for him, which could be new role variety.
resolved only by innovating a new philo-
sophical method.22Using Fechner's empirical THE NEGATIVE CASES
methods of studying perception, Wundt pro-
posed to build metaphysics on a solid basis, In France, there was no innovation of us-
thus making philosophy a science.23To pre- ing experimental methods in philosophy.
serve his scientific status, he was forced not There was heavy competition in the French
only to carry out a revolution in philosophy academic system for positions in all the nat-
by replacing logical speculation with empiri- ural sciences; the physiologists were fairly
cal research,but also to widely advertise the hard-pressed, having fewer than one chair
fact that he was in a different kind of enter- per university even at the turn of the cen-
prise than the traditional philosophers. tury (Table 6). The number of available
Brentano, Stumpf, MUller, and Ebbing-
haus were all philosophers who became in- TABLE 6. NUMBER OF ACADEMIC POSITIONS IN PHI-
terested in using empirical methods in their
field. Apparently, they were aware of the
onslaught physiology was making into the Philosophy Physiology
territory of philosophy; rather than accept Number
its deterioratingposition, they in effect "went Full Full of Uni-
Year chairs Total chairs Total versities a
over to the enemy." It is known that Stumpf
met Fechner and E. H. Weber in his days as 1892 17 27 10 17 15
a Dozent; 24 Muller also correspondedwith 1900 20 28 12 20 15
1910 22 30 14 27 15
Fechner; 25 and Ebbinhaus apparently de- 1923 22 * 17 * 16
cided to re-enter the academic world after a
Includes College de France.
accidentally encountering a copy of Fech- * Figures on positions below the level of full pro-
ner's Elements.26 Brentano, although he fessor are not available for 1923.
makes reference to Helmholtz, Fechner, and
Source: Minerva, Jahrbuch der Gelehrten Welt,
Wundt in his first major work, Psychology 2 (1892), 10 (1900), 20 (1910), 27 (1923).
from an Empirical Standpoint (1874), was
considerably less influenced by them than
were the others. He also remained the least positions in philosophy was a little better.
experimental of this group of founders. However, the relative situation was nothing
like in Germany,where physiology had been
Wundt is undoubtedly the central figure. He
had the largest following and he articulated filling up for several decades, whereas in
the ideology of the "philosophical revolu- France it was still expanding into all of the
universities for the first time.
22 Helmholtz may well
have seen it as a kind of Besides, in France a central intellectual
treason; there are reports that it was Helmholtz's elite existed whose status was dependent on
antagonism to his former assistant that blocked the a diffuse evaluation of excellence rather than
appointment of the latter to Berlin in 1894. Cf.
Ibid., p. 389.
on regular university appointments and spe-
23 Hall, op. cit., pp. 323-326. cialized attainment.27The lines of demarca-
24 Edwin G. Boring, op. cit., p. 363.
25Ibid., p. 374. 27 Joseph Ben-David and
Awraham Zloczower,
261bid., p. 387. "Universities and Academic Systems in Modern So-

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tion between disciplines were too amorphous ing rise to movements attempting to create
to mean anything for a man like Binet, who a new discipline.
could afford to dabble in law, entomology, The same conditions which prevented the
psychiatry, experimental psychology, and development of a reference group conflict in
educational testing. He could expect that France existed to an even greater extent in
some kind of facilities would be created for Britain. The relative numberof chairs in
his patricular needs, and that his achieve- philosophy and physiology was similar to
ments would be recognizedwithout the need that in France (Table 7). Both were about
for justifying them in the terms of a specific
Existing positions allowed a broad range LOSOPHYAND PHYSIOLOGYIN THE BRITISH
of possible activities for their holders; Lu-
cien Levy-Bruhl, the anthropologist, for ex- Philosophy Physiology
ample, held a chair of philosophy; Emile Number
Durkheim, the sociologist, held a chair of Full Full of Uni-
Year chairs Total chairs Total versities
education, and the few chairs of experimen-
tal psychology were likely to be turned over 1892 13 15 9 20 10
to men who were primarilypsychiatrists such 1900 16 20 12 21 11
1910 19 38 14 29 16
as Pierre Janet or Charles Blondel. The Col- 1923 22 * 16 * 16
lege de France, the most prestigious institu-
tion in France, rewarded unique individual * Figures on positions below the level of full pro-
fessor are not available for 1923.
accomplishments,but did not provide much
opportunity for those following an estab- Source: Minerva, Jahrbuch der Gelehrten Welt,
lished career, nor did it allow the training of 2 (1892), 10 (1900), 20 (1910), 27 (1923).
"disciples," since its positions were for re-
search rather than teaching. Ribot, by pros- one per university, with chairs in philosophy
elytizing German psychology, could have a in a slight lead over those in physiology, but
new chair in Experimental Psychology es- with the latter expanding. The necessity of
tablished for himself at the College de gaining an academic position was even less
France, but this personal recognition prob- important than in France. In the latter coun-
ably prevented him from developing a school try, one eventually had to obtain some kind
of followers. The purely individual basis of of official position. In England, even this
recognition is indicated by the fact that was unnecessary.
Henri Pieron could have a new chair created Before 1832, there were only two univer-
for himself at the College de France (in the sities in all England and four in Scotland,
Physiology of Sensation) because the Pro- and they were little more than an upper-class
fessor of Archeology died without a suitably intellectual backwater. Four provincial uni-
eminent successor.28 versities were founded throughout the re-
Unlike in the German system, disciplines mainder of the century and another half
were not differentiated sharply enough to dozen in the first decade of the twentieth
create serious role conflicts among men with century. Under the threat of being left
ideas. The elite comprised a single reference behind by these technologically-minded,
group of relatively non-specialized intellect- "lower-class"universities, Oxford and Cam-
uals and "philosophers"in the old eighteenth bridge began to take in the new sciences, and
century tradition, and prestige adhered to in the process, to recover intellectual as well
the individual, not to the discipline. The as merely social pre-eminence.9
French system, in short, was suited to pick- This process was still going on in the late
ing up intellectual innovations by specific nineteenth century; both philosophy and
individuals, but was not at all suited for giv- physiology were still centered to a consider-
cieties," European Journal of Sociology, 3 (1962),
able extent outside of the British universi-
pp. 45-85. ties.30 From the point of view of the physi-
28 Henri Pieron, "Autobiography," in Carl Mur-
chison (ed.), A History of Psychology in Autobi- 29 Walter H. B.
Armytage, Civic Universities,
ography, vol. IV, Worcester, Mass.: Clark Uni- London: Ernest Benn, 1955, pp. 178, 206.
versity Press, 1952. 30 Both Herbert Spencer and J. S. Mill, for ex-

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ologist fighting for entrance into the conserv- tions worth competing for, the institutions
ative strongholds, the academic philosophy were too small for specialization, and re-
taught there must have seemed a somewhat search was not a function of the academic
outdated and unduly privileged field. But community at all. A vigorous movement in
the mobility factor was missing; it was still experimental psychology, clearly derivative
possible to attain the highest prestige in phi- of the German movements, grew up only
losophy or in physiology outside of the uni- after the foundings of the first graduate
versities. This non-university tradition pro- schools beginning in 1876.
vided a safety-valve which let off the pres-
sure which might have led to the innovation SUMMARY
of a new psychology.
The innovation of experimental psychol-
In the United States as well, an in-
ogy was brought about by the mechanism
digenous innovation of experimental psy- of role-hybridization. Excluding the inde-
chology failed to appear; however, a large pendently originated practical traditions in
and successful movement of followers of the Britain and France which only later became
German psychology did spring up in the attached to the movement in experimental
1880's, a full decade or two before such psychology, this innovation took place only
movements (on a smaller scale) appeared in in Germany. Three factors were required:
France and Britain. Before this period, there
(a) an academic rather than an amateur
had been a very large number of small col-
role for both philosophersand physiologists;
leges in the country.3' In these colleges, psy- (b) a better competitive situation in philos-
chology was a branch of philosophy of the ophy than in physiology encouraging the
eighteenth-century Scottish variety, with mobility of men and methods into philoso-
heavily religious overtones. It was taught by phy; (c) an academic standing of philoso-
the college presidents, 90 per cent of whom phy below that of physiology, requiring the
were clergymen.32Philosophy occupied the physiologist to maintain his scientific stand-
same dominant position as in Germany in ing by applying his empirical methods to the
the early part of the century, but in other materials of philosophy.
respects the colleges resembled the philo-
Germany had all three factors. France
sophical faculties (the lower, "undergradu-
had a measure of the first. All the persons
ate" section) of the Germanuniversities be-
involved eventually acquired full-time sci-
fore von Humboldt's reforms in 1810.
entific appointments, but their careers had
Learning was by rote, salaries were low, and often started outside the academic frame-
there were no facilities for research. Teach- work, and their official positions were little
ing positions were merely sinecures for un-
standardized.The second factor was present
successful clergymen.33Under these condi- to an insignificant degree, and the latter not
tions, there could be no movements to at all, as prestige was attached to the indi-
innovate new disciplines: there were no posi- vidual and the formal honors he received
ample, held no academic positions. Physiological rather than to the discipline. Britain was
research was largely carried on by medical prac- similar to France concerning the last two
titioners in the independent hospitals. Cf. Abraham factors and the first was present to an even
Flexner,MedicalEducation: A ComparativeStudy,
New York: Macmillan, 1925. more limited exent than in France, since the
31 There were 182 colleges in 1861, averaging six amateur pattern still prevailed widely among
faculty members each. Cf. Richard Hofstadter and philosophers and physiologists. The United
WolfgangMetzger, The Development of Academic States before 1880 lacked even the rudi-
Freedomin The United States, New York: Colum- ments of an academic system in which these
bia University Press, 1955, pp. 211, 233.
32 That is, the "faculty psychology" of Thomas
factors could operate.
Reid, Dugald Stewart and Thomas Brown; for the This explains why the take-off occurred
role of the president, see Hofstadter and Metzger, in Germany.The reason France never linked
op. cit., p. 297. up with the mainstream of the development
33 Bernard Berelson, GraduateEducation in the
United States, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1960, p. while the United States, and eventually Bri-
14. tain, did, remains to be investigated.

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