G. Stanley Hall: Biography and Theory of the Founder of the APA

Granville psychologist and educator Stanley Hall (1846-1924) was one of the pioneers of psychology in the United States, which would become the core of this science in the following decades. Not only has he trained several renowned psychologists, but also founded laboratories, journals and the American Psychological Association.

Although Stanley Hall’s theories and views did not stand up to the progress of the discipline, this author was instrumental in establishing scientific psychology as we know it today, particularly in the field of youth development. Let’s see what were his main contributions.

    Biography of Granville Stanley Hall

    Granville Stanley Hall was born in Ashfield, Massachusetts in 1846. He studied at Harvard University with William James in the first year of psychology in the United States, and was the first American to obtain a doctorate in this discipline.

    He lived in Germany for a time, where he studied at the University of Berlin and collaborated with Wilhelm Wundt in his laboratory in Leipzig. He then returned to his homeland, where he taught philosophy and the English language until he was hired as a professor of psychology and pedagogy at Johns Hopkins University.

    In 1883, he founded the first psychology laboratory in the United States, in 1887, he created the American Journal of Psychology and he was also a key influence in the founding of the American Psychological Association, of which he was president for 31 years. He was also the first president of Clark University, founded in 1889.

    During his long and prolific career at Hall he focused on development throughout the life cycle, Especially in the early stages and in the education of young people. He was more interested in the theory of evolution and the psychological explanation of supernatural beliefs, including religion and spiritualism.

    The recapitulation theory

    Conceptually, Stanley Hall’s best-known contribution is his recapitulation theory, which states that ontogenetic development recalls phylogenetics. This means that the changes that people undergo throughout the life cycle are equivalent to those that have taken place with the evolution of our species.

    According to this author, during the first years of human life we ​​differ little from other animals, but when we reach adulthood (and with the help of education) we reach the full cognitive potential of the species., Mainly related to capacity. reason correctly.

    Stanley Hall described different characteristics of the development in the early stages of life, Who were those who focused his interest, although towards the end of his life he also theorized about old age.

      1. Early childhood

      In the first stage of life, around the age of 6 or 7, children perceive the world primarily through the senses; the reasoning is still very immature and the influence of socialization is very limited.

      Stanley Hall considered that at this time people we are very similar to animals, Specifically the apes, which he considered to be the ancestors of human beings. In early childhood, children have a lot of energy and their bodies develop very quickly.

      This phase would therefore be characterized by the little information received on the world, taking these data “as they come”. In other words, there would be an absence of abstract thought.

      2. Second childhood

      By age 8, children’s brains are almost the same size as adults; it is at this age that formal education must begin, According to Stanley Hall. However, he believes that primary and secondary education should be preparation for life in society rather than focusing on traditional subjects such as mathematics.

      This author asserted that the incomplete development of reasoning causes preadolescents to be amoral and have a certain tendency towards cruelty. The role of adults in this period should focus on taking charge of the physical health of the child, and not so much on trying to develop moral awareness or acquire skills and knowledge.

      3. Adolescence

      Like Freud, Stanley Hall was one of the first psychologists to advocate this as a teenager. sexuality becomes a central aspect of life. For this reason, he promoted gender education to foster learning about morality and the tools of social living, made possible now by the maturation of reasoning.

      This was one of those situations in which psychology intermingled with the politician, and of course a lot of criticism arose because of the weak foundation of the ideas emerging from psychoanalysis and the educational consequences of establishing a separation of these. characteristics.

      Stanley Hall’s legacy

      G. Stanley Hall was instrumental in the foundation of psychology as a science and as a profession, As well as for the emergence of developmental psychology. His views and, above all, his promotion of study in this field have influenced authors such as Jean Piaget, who developed one of the most relevant theories on the stages of development.

      During his long tenure as a teacher, Stanley Hall taught and mentored many psychologists and philosophers who would play a central role in the advancement of psychology, especially in recent decades. Among them are James McKeen Cattell, Lewis M. Terman, John Dewey, Henry Goddard and Arnold Gesell.

      On the other hand, Stanley Hall also played a key role in the arrival of psychoanalysis, an orientation with which he shared different points of view, in the United States. In 1909 invite Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung to Clark University, Where they gave a series of lectures which had a great influence on American psychology, despite the rejection of many experts to the unscientific methods of psychoanalysts.

      In addition to the American Journal of Psychology, Stanley Hall founded three other journals, of which he was also editor: Pedagogical Seminary, American Journal of Religious Psychology and Education, and Journal of Race Development. Regarding the latter, it should be noted that Stanley Hall advocated eugenic perspectives and the superiority of the white race.

      Granville Stanley Hall is best remembered for his role in founding the American Psychological Association and his long career as president, a role he held from the founding of the APA in 1892 until his death in 1924. the present this organization constitutes the largest community of psychologists and influential of the world.

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