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31 March in the History of Psychology

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On March 31:

1596 — René Descartes was born. Descartes was the first great thinker to break with the scholasticism of the Middle Ages. He proposed that the mind and body were separate but interacting entities. Descartes attempted to define the basic qualities of mind, studied properties of the nervous system, and wrote on the optics of vision.

1881 — Sigmund Freud received his MD degree from the University of Vienna. His dissertation topic was the reproductive system of eels. As a medical student, Freud discovered the analgesic properties of cocaine.

1902 — The first annual meeting of the American Philosophical Association began at Columbia University. James E. Creighton, of Cornell University, was elected president. Many members of the new organization had represented the philosophical tradition within the APA. Their departure left the APA with a narrower empirical and applied focus.

1903 — Roger G. Barker was born. Barker's ecological psychology defined the behavior setting to be the determinant of many human behaviors. His 24-year longitudinal study of Oskaloosa ("Midwest"), Kansas, is an exemplary model of field observation. APA Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, 1963.

1906 — Marianne Frostig was born. She contributed to the areas of educational therapy, learning disorders, and assessment. Her Developmental Test of Visual Perception is well-known to workers in learning disabilities.

1929 — Martha T. Mednick was born. Mednick's interests have been in personality and social research, achievement motivation, and women's issues, especially African American women's issues. Her books Research in Personality (1963, with Sarnoff A. Mednick) and Women and Achievement: Social and Motivational Analyses (1975, with Sandra S. Tangri) reflect her expertise.

1960 — Milton Rokeach's book The Open and Closed Mind: Investigations Into the Nature of Belief Systems and Personality Systems was published. Twenty-two coauthors assisted in producing the book. In 1979, this book was featured as a "citation classic" in the journal Current Contents and had been cited in over 1,295 other publications.

1965 — Nancy C. Waugh and Donald A. Norman's article "Primary Memory" was published in Psychological Review.

1967 — Charles Truax and Robert Carkhuff's book Toward Effective Counseling and Psychotherapy was published.