Psychology has roots in both the humanities, social science and science. Any consideration of psychology that leaves out some of these three perspectives will result in an amputated view of the field. Wilhelm Wundt is often mentioned as a founder of psychology as an independent science about 1885. He was a physician and is mostly known for his experimental contributions to the field. The fact is, however, that he considered experimental and "scientific" psychology to be a less important part of psychology and he worked hard to establish a place for psychology among the humanities and in close cooperation with other humanist disciplines such as linguistics and cultural study.


When psychology developed the way it did (and became more related to science compared than to humanities), a part of the explanation is to be found in the tasks that psychology and psychologists have to do for a living. Such a kind of social-constructivist analysis of the history of psychology is provided by Kurt Danziger (1990, 1997). 


Robins; Gosling & Craik, 1999 provided a graphical outline of the development of four major schools in psychology:


Robins, Gosling & Craik (1999, fig 1).




"Some have argued that the human mind naturally organizes its knowledge of the world into such systems [as biological taxonomy]. This view is often based on the epistemology of Immanuel Kant. Anthropologists have observed that taxonomies are generally embedded in local cultural and social systems, and serve various social functions. Perhaps the most well-known and influential study of folk taxonomies is Émile Durkheim's The Elementary Forms of Religious Life." (Wikipedia, 2007-05-19)






Braun, C. M. J. & Baribeau, J. M. C. (1984): The Classification of Psychology Among the Sciences from Francis Bacon to Boniface Kedrov. Journal of Mind and Behavior, 5(3), 245‑259.


Danziger, K. (1990). Constructing the subject. Historical origins of psychological research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Danziger, K. (1997). Naming the Mind. How Psychology Found its Language. London: SAGE.

Hjørland, B. (1998). The Classification of Psychology: A Case Study in the Classification of a Knowledge Field. Knowledge Organization, 24(4), 162-201.


Jørgensen, J. (1963): Hovedtræk af bevidsthedsytringernes klassifikation [Main outline of the classification of expressions of consciousness] (Chapter VIII­+IX, pp. 189-242) In: Jørgen Jørgensen: Psykologi paa biologisk grundlag. Copen­hagen: Munksgaard.


Kant, E. (1790). Kritik der Urtheilskraft. (Translated by J. Creed Meredith: The Critique of Judgement. Oxford: Clarenton Press, 1969). 


Krauth, J. (1981). Techniques of classification in psychology I: factor analysis, facet analy­ses, multidimensional scaling, latent structure analysis. International Classification, 8(3), 126-132.


Krauth, J. (1982). Techniques of classification in psychology 2: cluster analysis, typal analysis, configural frequency analysis, discriminant analysis, regression analysis. International Classification, 9(1), 1-10.


Mills, J. & Broughton, V. (1978): Bliss Bibliographical Classification. 2. ed. Class I: Psychology and Psychiatry. London: Butterworth.


Robins, R. W., Gosling, S. D. & Craik, K. H. (1999). An empirical analysis of trends in psychology. American Psychologist, 54(2), 117-128.


Soudek, M. (1980). On the classification of psychology in general library classification schemes. Library Resources & Technical Services, 24(2), 114-128.


Soudek, M. (1983). The inadequate treatment of psychology in general library classification schemes. Canadian Psychology, 24(3), 181-189.


Wikipedia. The free encyclopedia. (2007-05-19). Taxonomy.


See also: Color; Psychology (Epistemological Lifeboat); Thesaurus of Psychological Index






Birger Hjørland

Last edited: 19-05-2007