I.Research Question or Problem
The journal article question is clearly stated. The question asks whether the behaviourist, the psychoanalytic, the cognitive, or the neuroscientific perspective is most intellectually significant and most prominent in psychology today (Robins, Goling, & Craik, 1999, p. 117).
The introduction presents differing contentions regarding which school of psychology is most prominent. Five references have been cited in the introduction. It is believed by some that the cognitive perspective reigns over psychoanalysis and behaviourism (Baars, 1986; Gardner, 1985; Hunt, 1993; Sperry, 1988, as cited in Robins, Gosling, & Craik, 1999, p. 117). An opposing conviction, however, states that this belief is merely a representation of cognitive psychologists’ opinion of their own field rather than an accurate statement based on facts (Friman, Allen, Kerwin, & Larzelere, 1993, p. 662, as cited in Robins, Gosling, & Craik, 1999, p. 117).
Furthermore, it is argued that the belief in a “cognitive perspective revolution” is simply a method for scientists to justify their practice (Leahey, 1991, p.362, as cited in Robins, Gosling, & Craik, 1999, p. 117). Other theories have indicated, without empirical evidence however, that behaviourism continues to flourish despite the loss of “mentor B.F Skinner” (Salzinger, 1994, p. 816; p. 461, as cited in Robins, Gosling, & Craik, 1999, p. 117). Lastly, it is contented by some that the neuroscientific perspective continues to prosper (Churchland, 1998, as cited in Robins, Gosling, & Craik, 1999, p. 117), and that the entire field of psychology will eventually become a subfield of neuroscience (Bechtel, 1988, as cited in Robins, Gosling, & Craik, 1999, p. 117).
The authors employed three indexes to conduct their study; the subject-matter index of psychology’s Flagship publications, the subject-matter index of psychology dissertations and the citation index of Flagship publications. For the psychology’s Flagship publications, authors selected several word stems in a database called psychINFO, including: psychoanal#, cognit#, neurosci#, reinforce#, and conditioning#. At that time, they calculated the percentage of articles published in the Flagship publications between 1950 to 1997 and charted their findings over time (Robins, Gosling, & Craik, 1999, p. 118). For the psychology dissertations, authors once again employed psychINFO, this time, to analyze the topics presented in doctoral dissertations between 1967 to 1994. Then, they calculated the percentage of dissertations for each of the four psychological perspectives (Robins, Gosling, & Craik, 1999, p. 119). Finally, for the citation index of Flagship publications, authors surveyed trends regarding the number of citations found concerning each perspective in the Flagship publications. Then, they selected the top four journals in each perspective using a rating system operated by prominent neuroscientists (Robins, Gosling, & Craik, 1999, p. 119). Applying these findings, authors calculated the “total number of times per year the flagship publications cited articles published in each sub-disciplinary journal” (Robins, Gosling, & Craik, 1999, p. 119).
The results undoubtedly provided answers to the question/hypothesis. The findings indicated that articles regarding the cognitive perspective appeared most frequently in all three indexes, followed by the behavioural perspective. Articles regarding the psychoanalytic and neuroscientific perspective, however, were essentially non-existent throughout the studied period. Authors provided graphs and tables in order to demonstrate their findings over time for each index (Robins, Gosling, & Craik, 1999, p.121-126).
Due to their compelling findings, the authors were able to construct several conclusions. Firstly, psychoanalytic journals, dissertations, and flagship articles have not been in the spotlight of mainstream psychology for the past several decades (Robins, Gosling, & Craik, 1999, p.123, 124). Secondly, with the focus currently on cognitive psychology, behavioural psychology has and continues to subside in scientific psychology (Robins, Gosling, & Craik, 1999, p.124). Moreover, the authors’ state that one reason cognitive psychology is transcending behavioural psychology is due to the immeasurable role of computers in modern society. For example, thanks to computers, considerable changes have taken place in regards to scientists’ understanding of memory, information processing, etc (Robins, Gosling, & Craik, 1999, p.124). Lastly, mainstream psychology does not yet recognize neuropsychology; however, there is an obvious increase in popularity that is underway. Authors recommend further research to explore the growing prominence of neuropsychology (Robins, Gosling, & Craik, 1999, p.125).
Authors used a clear and consistent citation format, and each of the references was properly cited within the article. The authors used a variety of sources ranging from the 1930’s to the year prior to the study. The older references were used to demonstrate variations of theories over time.
I consider this article to be rather thought-provoking. From the beginning, I agreed with the theorists who believed that cognitive psychology was the leading school of psychology. Although this article was written fourteen years ago, I believe it continues to be true today. I was not aware of the serious decline of the behavioural perspective; however, after reading about the impact computers have had on science and scientists, it became clear (Robins, Gosling, & Craik, 1999, p.124). One limitation that I feel could have affected the results was the manner in which they selected the top four journals. I wonder if the results would have varied had different journals been chosen. In my opinion, the sample size of four journals seems somewhat confining to the research. Even so, this was a very interesting article. I would be rather intrigued to read a current study of the same topic and see if the results are equivalent.