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Of late years there has been a tendency to attach psychology to all lines of work; even the lowly brush salesman has been told the psychological side of selling his goods. Potential concentrators in the field of Psychology can hope for no such mundane or isolated training as this, for the Department concerns itself mainly with the history and theory of the science. There is a marked lack of attention to the Psychology of Personality which is so important in this work-a-day world.
The field is best suited for men who plan on careers in medicine, teaching, psychiatry of social work. Even for them, however, the subject matter of the courses too infrequently glazes over the practical aspects of Psychology.
Psychology is divided into five parts, one of which a concentrator must prepare for an examination at the end of Senior year. These are its History, Experimental, Abnormal, Physiological and Social Psychology. There is also an examination in the general field for all candidates. For these the courses are not entirely sufficient and tutorial work plays a considerable part. A large majority of concentrators are under Plan B, which is specially streamlined for the purpose. There are bi-weekly meetings of about four men during Sophomore year; from then on the non-honors men meet in large discussion groups of about twenty-five. This system has been in operation for only the last three years and appears to do the job pretty well. The tutors, as in every other field, are variable, but Harvard is fortunate in having an unusually able staff for the Psychology Department.
For those who are interested in the purely social aspects of the field, Sociology would probably serve them better. Correspondingly, there is a large amount of material in the division of Social Psychology which is somewhat foreign to the general field.
Psychology A is the introductory course for concentrators. Unfortunately, it is planned mainly as a suitable course for the dabbler from other fields who feels he should take some in Psychology. This makes it not too satisfactory for concentrators. The first half, under Professor Boring, is rather disorganized in its coverage of man and his reactions to life; Allport's second half is much better.
Concentrators complain that there is only one course each year open to undergraduates in the realms of Child Psychology and Psychology of Personality. Professor Allport's 32 is good but not enough to cover the topic of Personality. The same is true of Dr. White's course, 36, on Child Psychology. These are examples of the paucity of specific material. On the whole, the over-emphasis of psycho-physics makes this fact stand out all the more.
The field of Psychology is no longer the simple one its late reputation would make it. The exams are hard, requiring real work and thought; the fact that they are marked on the sliding scale system makes them not a bit easier.
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