Great Contributors in Educational Psychology: Essay on G. Stanley Hall

Granville Stanley Hall was one of the most prominent psychologists in the United States in the years before and after the turn of the 19th century.

Stanley Hall is known as the first organizer and administrator in American psychology. He made his great contribution to psychological research and theory.

Stanley Hall was noted to be a source of stimulation for others, opening up for them fields of research and study. He had multifaceted and broad interests. He is noted to be a pioneer in various areas including studies of childhood, adolescence, senescence, human genetics, etc. A considerable number of his studies is dedicated to child psychology. Hall’s interests were centered on child development and evolutionary theory. He was influenced by Haeckle’s popular notion that “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny”, which pervaded Hall’s subsequent developmental theory. Thus, his interests led him to educational issues (Hilgard, 1987) as well as to child psychology.

In a sense Stanley Hall made a gospel of childhood. His primary concern was to focus on a child as a child, to study him/her for his/her own sake. That’s why, I consider that Stanley Hall lifted the child to a new plane of importance.

The name of G. Stanley Hall is also known in the area of education. He is considered to be the founder of organized psychology as a science and profession. Hall is the father of the child study movement, and is traditionally called the national leader of educational reform.

Stanley Hall was an influential popularizer, and teacher of psychology. People regarded him as a science that was open to ordinary people which was not removed from day-to-day life and not performed in a laboratory. Stanley Hall considered that the laboratory was not the right place to learn about real feelings, emotions and beliefs of individuals.

Stanley Hall’s most influential work is Adolescence in which he explained psychological development up to adolescence in terms of the biological theory of recapitulation. He believed in the perfectibility of humankind. Consequently, adolescents’ adaptability can provide the jumping-off point for the fulfillment of human potential and evolutionary advancement.

Hall was also a famous lecturer and writer and his impact was pronounced both among psychologists and among the general public. His interests included the controversial portrayal of the putative differences in the natures of women and men (Diehl, 1988) as well as the unsavory concept of racial eugenics (Hothersall, 1990).

Stanley Hall introduced anecdotal descriptions of individual children’s behavior either by teachers or parents. Hall invented a questionnaire method in order to understand children’s mind. His methods were criticized and considered as methodologically weak. However, they (methods) were reappraised by contemporary psychologists.

He had a remarkable impact on the development of American psychology in his role as “the great teacher of graduate students during the first decades of American psychology” (Hothersall, 1990, p. 296).
In comparison with Hall, Wilhelm Wundt was the founder of the laboratory in experimental psychology. He made a revolutionary achievement in the psychological experimentation. He managed to move the psychological study from the domain of philosophy and the natural sciences. Thus, he utilized psychological experimental techniques in the laboratory.

When Wundt published his Physiolologische Psychologie, Hall immediately wanted to go to Germany and study with Wundt. He was sidetracked at Harvard, however, where he earned his doctorate in psychology with William James in 1878. He then traveled to Leipzig to study with Wundt and other psychologists (Marshall, 1988).

Wundt is known as a pioneer of the concept stating mental events in relation to objectively knowable and measurable stimuli and reactions. To Wundt, mind was seen as an activity, not a substance.
Wundt’s major contribution was to show that psychology could be a valid experimental science. His studies in promoting psychology as a science were enormous.

In conclusion I may say that Hall and Wundt made prominent contribution to educational psychology based on deep and colossal work experience.


1. Diehl, L. A. (1988). The Paradox of G. Stanley Hall: Foe of Coeducation and Educator of Women. In L. T. Benjamin, jr. (ed.). A History of Psychology: Original Sources and Contemporary Research. New York: McGraw Hill.
2. Hilgard, E. R. (1987). Psychology in America: A Historical Survey. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
3. Hothersall, D. (1990). History of Psychology (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
4. Marshall, M. E. (1988). Biographical Genre and Biographical Archetype: Five Studies of Gustav Theodor Fechner. In L. T. Benjamin, jr. (ed.). A History of Psychology: Original Sources and Contemporary Research. New York: McGraw Hill.
5. Grinder, R. E. (1989). Educational psychology: The master science. In M. C. Wittrock & F. Farley (Eds.), The future of educational psychology (pp. 318). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
6. Ross, D. (1972). G. Stanley Hall: The psychologist as prophet. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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