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William James (1842–1910)

William_James_b1842cWilliam James, often considered the father of American psychology, was born in New York City, but spent much of his childhood traveling between the United States and Europe, where he attended several private schools. James’ interest in such varied fields as philosophy, religion, and science were cultivated at home in an enriched environment shared with his brother Henry James, the famous author. William James struggled to find a vocation that suited his various interests, trying his hand at art, chemistry, and finally, medicine. He received his MD from Harvard in 1868.

In 1872, James began teaching physiology at Harvard but was preoccupied by his ongoing and deep interest in such philosophical issues as free will and determinism. Though James considered himself a temporary dabbler in the discipline of psychology, his two-volume textbook, Principles of Psychology (1890), stood as the field’s definitive textbook through the first half of this century. It is still considered one of the best-written texts on psychology and a source of many original ideas. James’ contributions to psychology include the notion of a stream of consciousness, the importance of habit and instinct, and a complex theory of the self, theory of emotion, and opening the boundaries of psychology to include topics such as religious beliefs.

Cicarelli, S.K., & White, J.N. (2015). PSYCHOLOGY, AN EXPLORATION (3rd ed): PEARSON


18 Comments

  1. Yasmin says:

    W James is known for being the first one to teach psychology in the USA

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  2. Sayomi says:

    While James is acknowledged as one of the founding fathers of Psychology. I think his theory of functionalism brought attention to the relationship between the individual’s internal state and external behavior.

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  3. lillyanamayo says:

    William James is well known for helping to found Psychology since he greatly advanced the movement of psychology through various contributions (such as Principles of Psychology (1890)).

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  4. Lydia Li says:

    William James wrote one of the most influential textbooks up to date and his theories consisted of functionalism (how people’s thoughts/behavior help them ‘function’ in the world and be successful) and pragmatism (practical or logical response).

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  5. Harman P Singh says:

    I really appreciate how he was the first educator to offer a psychology course because it is very interesting. His other work on habit and instinct are very interesting aswell

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  6. cindyv85 says:

    Williams James is well known for distinguish instinct and habit. He is also well famous for his two textbooks

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  7. andreachavezlopez says:

    He is considered the “father” of America psychology and his text is considered the best-written text on psychology.

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  8. Debbie Ross says:

    James, known as the Father of American Psychology, created the Principles of Psychology and wrote 2 volumes of such. Taught physiology at Harvard for many years. He had deep interest in many issues which include philosophical freedom and determinism, also phenomenological understanding of the self and consciousness.

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  9. eguerrieo says:

    Read and understood. Considered the father of psychology and wrote one of the most useful text to date.

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  10. JingRen says:

    William James’ book, The Principles of Psychology, is considered one of the most influential texts in psychology.

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  11. Fernando L Sousa says:

    William James was a co author to on the most important theories in my eyes theory of emotion, which states emotions are physiological reactions ex: fight or flight.

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  12. Abdi Abera says:

    James wrote about contributions to psychology include ” the notion of a stream of consciousness, the importance of habit and instinct, and a complex theory of the self, theory of emotion, and opening the boundaries of psychology to include topics such as religious beliefs.” those all thing will help as to look ourselves how we are aware of depending on the positive side of his theory.

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  13. sheyla4801 says:

    His two volume text book is still considered to be one of the best written text books. read and kind of understood his theory .

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  14. jessicabrunss says:

    William James was incredible. He create many theory’s during his life. I like the theory os “self” with he say that our mental is divided in two categories. The “Me” and the “I”. The “Me” is the empirical and the “I” is the pure ego. I agree with his theory.

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  15. ezitterk says:

    I’m not sure how to express my opinion about this theory, if it is that I’m understanding it right. I would say then that might be common that the different experiences of emotions we live changes our responses to external events. for example, when you broke up with a second boyfriend you respond with different behavior because you had previous emotion experience of the same event, is that right?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Clarisse Noubissi Tchemwe says:

    I agree with his approach that explain the importance of the instinct and the habit.

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  17. Kiana Jeanniton says:

    I agree the the understanding of instinct and and habit is important because I think u can change habits and they form based on ur instincts.

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  18. anthonymansi001 says:

    James wrote a two volume textbook that is considered one of the best written text, and the notion of a stream of consciences.

    Like

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