Some of psychology's great inventions and landmark research projects are on display at the National Inventors Hall of Fame, a museum in Akron, Ohio, that celebrates American inventors.
The exhibit, "Psychology: It's more than you think!"--which debuted in January and runs through Aug. 16--introduces visitors to some of psychology's great innovators through interactive displays, psychological equipment such as Stanley Milgram's simulated shock generator and video footage from early research studies. The materials are on loan from the University of Akron-based Archives of the History of American Psychology, the world's largest collection of psychology documents and artifacts.
The exhibit showcases how "throughout the 20th century, psychologists in science and practice created and invented ways of examining, exploring and aiding our understanding of ourselves and the world we inhabit," says David Baker, PhD, director of the archives, which recently became an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.
For example, the exhibit highlights the groundbreaking ideas of Carl Rogers on counseling and psychotherapy, says Baker. It also describes how research on the self-esteem of black schoolchildren by African-American psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Phipps Clark boosted the case for Linda Brown in the landmark Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education.
Another highlight is a profile of school psychologist Lillian Bowman, whose invention in the 1930s made more of an impact on industry than psychology: Bowman patented the pour spout that has since become an essential feature for dispensing everything from salt to dishwasher detergent.
"This exhibit allows the public to see that psychologists really are involved in important aspects of everyday life," says Baker.
The exhibit also features artifacts from late 19th century psychology laboratories, including the Hipp chronoscope and the Cattell voice key, as well as early tools for measuring visual and auditory perception and memory. The displays are paired with archival video footage showing how many of the devices were used in research studies. And an original 1940s Ames room, a trapezoidal room that produces a visual distortion so that two objects of the same size appear dramatically different in size, is a visitor favorite, says Baker.
The exhibit is complemented by APA's recently retired Traveling Psychology Exhibit, a hands-on interactive display that allows visitors to explore the mind-body connection, language and attention, and perception. APA donated the exhibit to the archives last year.
Baker hopes "Psychology!"--which had the largest opening night in the museum's history--leads to other collaborations and traveling exhibits at universities and museums throughout the country. Because the archives headquarters is small, he is eager to display elsewhere some of its larger materials--such as the recently acquired prison door from the Stanford Prison Study of former APA president Philip G. Zimbardo, PhD.
"It's exciting for us to start moving our materials out of the basement and letting people see and enjoy them," says Baker.
The Div. 40 Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee will hold a conversation hour about ethnic minorities in neuropsychology on July 30, 2-2:50 p.m., during APA's 2004 Annual Convention in Honolulu. The committee's co-chairs--Tony Wong, PhD, and Monica Rivera Mindt, PhD--will lead the session.
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