Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 15, No. 14. July 24, 1952
American Professor Picks Eisenhower to Win
American Professor Picks Eisenhower to Win
"Americans take from wherever they can take," said Dr. Munn addressing a V.U.C. audience last week on "Present day trends in American Psychology."
Professor of Psychology at Bowdoin College, U.S.A., Norman L. Munn, well known to stage one students, proved that even authors of text books can be human. A fluent speaker, in spite of having left his lecture books on the Wairaki service car, he kept a large audience entertained with his ready wit............
To those of us who were fortunate enough to interview him after the lecture Dr. Munn showed that Americans can give as well as take in his ready answers to "Salient's" questions. "What do Americans think of New Zealanders?"
"Well, most Americans regard Australians as a pack of Commos and New Zealanders as a bunch of Socialists who have yet to learn the benefits of Private Enterprise."
"Why do adults read comics and what do you thing of the Comic Menace?"
"It beats me, I just don't know, habit mainly. It depends what you mean by comics. Serial strips in the paper give people something to look forward to—the next issue. Most of the comic books produced certainly do exercise a detrimental effect on young minds and in local communities much is being done to prevent the distribution of the worst sexy and suggestive types and those with perpetual themes of violence and crime. The comic strip technique however is valuable educationally and some comic books such as "Classics Illustrated" seem to do quite a bit of good—they get children interested in the classics."
"To what extent does the Red Hysteria of which we hear so much really exist in the United States?"
"It definitely docs exist and has, reached unbelievable heights," said Dr. Munn. He went on to discuss the position of lecturers who were unable to mention aspects of Soviet Culture from a public platform without fear of being branded Red and endangering their positions. Democratic Americans were objecting strongly to the policy of a Government which solicited unnecessary loyalty oaths from its employees and made intensive investigations into the private lives and beliefs of those who had committed no crime against the state. "Red" was the commonest term of abuse heard today and many lives and careers had been ruined by unjust and unfounded accusations of Communism. The American public was being fed an unprecedented diet of hatred and intolerance.
"To what extent docs the State enter into the field of Psychology?"
"Over half of our psychologists are working in the applied or clinical fields. Private enterprise requires efficiency experts and Hollywood needs psychological advisers."
Psychology no less than any other profession had suffered from racketeering and Dr. Munn gave some amusing examples of the exposure of numerous quacks.. Earlier in the evening he had caused amusement by [unclear: reference] to the American Association of Psychologists of which he is a member, campaign for the certification of practitioners, but the issue is a very serious one when the extent of the exploitation of the public's credulity and ignorance of the true nature of psychology is realised.
The Government offered positions to promising students, but these were mainly on veteran administration boards, in the armed services, criminal reformatories and on educational advisory bodies. Attached to local hospitals in some places there were panels consisting of doctors, psychologists and social workers which functioned as social welfare committees. During the war there had been investigation of morale under fire and studies of attitude toward war, but now the emphasis was on simplicity of instrument design and the bases of efficiency in manipulation. For those less patriotically inclined there were openings as psycho-analysis at three dollars an hour or as Rogerian counsellors asking the "talk and talk and talk" technique allowing the patient to cure himself and line the counsellors pocket at the same time.
Doctor Munn himself preferred to remain a teacher and besides fulfilling his duties as a lecturer he has made valuable contributions to many diverse fields of Psychology.
Asked his opinion of the elections Dr. Munn admitted that he was a Democrat voting Republican. He wanted to see an end to the corruption and graft which went on in Government circles and he thought that a new broom would sweep clean. Eisenhower also had the advantage of having kept good relations with Europe besides which ho was about the only man who could got more money for rearmament. Dr. Munn appears to have backed a winning horse.
In his lecture Dr. Munn attributed the current trends in American Psychology to the influence of the earlier European pioneers. The first 73 years of modern psychology lay under the shadow of Wundt and his emphasis on clinical studies. Titchener and Cattell two of his pupils rapidly moved away from the old idea of mental analysis on chemical lines, with their respective studies of conscious experience and of individual differences. The work of Gallon and Darwin had been a strong factor in the development of psychological investigation and had determined the stress on the evolutionary aspects of Psychology. In the twenties and thirties many opposing schools had appeared. Functionalism, Operational, Behaviourism and various theories of consciousness vied with one another for supremacy. Watsonians declared that only the objective should be studied and by their extremist statements alienated many church bodies. Psychology fell into even greater disrepute. It was known as a next to the liquor traffic one of the greatest evils of the age.
On the other hand the popular mind imagined psychology to have the "inside track" on man's relations to God. Watson eventually went too far for even the most staunch materialists and became an outstanding man in the advertising world.
Since the mid-thirties concurrent with the integration of the schools of psychology Watsonian Behaviourism had been modified to a point of view of an approach. Psychologists can study scientifically and objectively but do not pretend to resolve philosophical conflicts. Today the emphasis was on learning and adjustment. There were no more schools but systems of psychology had evolved. Dr. Munn proceeded to elucidate the Hull and Tolman systems and made their postulates readily understandable even to those of us who were not psychologists. The argument centred on how people learnt. The relationship between stimulus, response, knowledge and reinforcement was clearly illustrated. Dr. Munn preferred a mid-way course between the two views.
In child psychology the followers of Giselle had "gone about as far as they could go" in their studies of norms and the trend today was toward a study of personality in relation to home and socio-economic environment. More work was also being done on changes of personality with age.