The Franklin and Marshall Psychology department has a long history of academic excellence. Psychology at Franklin and Marshall can be traced back as far as 1840 when Dr. Rauch, the first President of what was then known as Marshall College, published Psychology– a View of the Human Soul in 1840. Psychology– a View of the Human Soul was the first book in America to use the term “psychology” in its title and was influential in spreading Hegelian philosophy throughout the United States.
This book was intended to be the first of a series teaching the same general subject. As written in the preface it was "the first attempt to unite German and American mental philosophy” and was enthusiastically received by most competent critics. It was recognized as a work of genius, and thus became a textbook in many literary institutions. Now superseded for purposes of instruction, it occupies a position in the history of education of which it can never be deprived. It was Dr. Rauch who in America introduced the study of psychology as a distinct science.
Psychology officially became a part of the curriculum at F&M.
Paul Leroy Whitely arrives at F&M– arguably one of the most influential professors in the history of Psychology at F&M. Whitely’s career at F&M lasted nearly 29 years and was commemorated with the establishment of the Paul L. Whitely Psychology Laboratories in 1969.
Prior to the completion of the Whitely Labs, the Psychology Department’s curriculum underwent extensive revisions. The department entered into the Natural Science Division of the College– moving away from its philosophical roots and becoming more laboratory based. It was this shift, which emphasized the science in Psychology, that helps distinguish Psychology at F&M from Psychology at other institutions. Dr. Donald Tyrrell, professor from 1967-1996, of Developmental Psychology at Franklin & Marshall College, emphasized the importance of this distinction, reporting:
“When I came here F&M was very unique in that regard. There were very few, if any, undergraduate schools that had or wanted psychology in a science division, rather than a social science division. That was one of the things that I appreciated about F&M. Psychology was seen as a science. It was a laboratory science and laboratories were associated with most of the courses…”
Psychology department moved into the third floor of Stahr Hall. During the 1964-1965 academic year, the Psychology department continued to establish itself as a natural science with the addition of three more lab courses– Methods in Psychology, Advanced Lab (Learning) and Senior Research Project.
The Psychology department moved from the third floor of Stahr to the Paul L. Whitely Laboratories. The completion of the Whitely Labs took place in 1968 and was made possible with funds from private sources and by the National Science Foundation. The building contained 27,000 sq. ft. devoted primarily to laboratory work in the study of animal and human behavior. Other areas provide spaces for offices, classrooms, and supportive activities. (e.g., computer facilities. shops, photography, laboratories, library, etc.). Ultimately, the Paul L. Whitely Psychology Laboratories at Franklin and Marshall College honor a man whose research, "The dependence of learning and recall upon prior intellectual activities," was one of the earliest studies having to do with interference effects in memory. The move into the Whitely Laboratories allowed the number of students to be instructed in Introductory Psychology to double. Additionally, both Developmental Psychology and Social Psychology included laboratory components– designed to prepare students for advanced research. Dr. Stewart, professor of psychology from 1962 to 1999, comments on the importance of psychology research opportunities at F&M:
"Well, what we did in all of our courses was try to involve students in understanding how knowledge is discovered rather than just learning what other people have done through reading a book. Instead, they understand how knowledge is acquired through experimentation and experimentation is defined very broadly to include field studies of course and observational studies with any type of data collection process.”
During the 1970-1971 academic year, the Psychology Department revised the entire course curriculum, putting a greater emphasis on the social science and biological science components of psychology– ultimately allowing non-psychology majors to take courses on psychological topics out of purely interest. Additionally, the 1970 curriculum emphasized a need for interdisciplinary programs. A strong connection between the Psychology and Biology Department was established– one that continues to thrive today with the Biological Foundations of Behavior program. Dr Stewart emphasizes the importance of these interdisciplinary opportunities at F&M, reporting:
“The idea of the BFB major is to help a student that has a biological interest, but is not satisfied with just studying things on a biological level. They want to also study the implications of biological foundations to broader issues. It is a natural combination. Witness what has happened at other institutions. They all now have a department of neuroscience. If you go up to the University of Pittsburgh, which is a big school, do you find a psychology department? Yes you do. A biology department? Yes you do. And you also find the department of neuroscience where you can complete an entire undergraduate major in neuroscience. And of course we were doing that before they were. I think we are on the right track.”
The number of faculty in the Psychology department increased to nine allowing for a number of new courses including; The Abnormal Personality, Exceptional Children, Psychological Aspects of Conflict and Organizational Psychology.
Whitely passed away in 1988– but for those three decades he spent at F&M he singularly advanced the study of psychology at the college, and prepared the groundwork for the Department's extensive endeavors today.
Psychology Department moves from the Whitely Labs to the Ann and Richard Barshinger Life Science and Philosophy building.
Today, the Franklin & Marshall College Psychology department is located on the first floor of the Life Science and Philosophy building. The department consists of 11 professors, 135 declared majors, and 11 declared minors. In addition, the department consists of six labs each representative of a different branch of psychology including perception, social, personality, cognitive, cross-cultural and developmental. Psychology majors are required to complete research collaboratives within two of these specific areas before graduation. The psychology department is also responsible for the animal labs, which are home to capuchin and squirrel monkeys, as well as rats and chickens.