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The Psychology of Science and the Origins of the Scientific Mind Paperback – September 9, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0300143270 ISBN-10: 0300143273

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (September 9, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300143273
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300143270
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,701,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"No one has even come close to creating the kind of systematic organization for the field of psychology of science that Feist has."—Robert J. Sternberg, Yale University, editor of Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid

(Robert J. Sternberg) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Gregory J. Feist is associate professor, San Jose State University. He is founding president of the International Society for the Psychology of Science & Technology as well as founding editor-in-chief of Journal of Psychology of Science & Technology. He is the author of Theories of Personality and the forthcoming Introduction to Psychology.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Winner, William James Book Award, American Psychological Association, 2007: "Feist argues convincingly for an integrated study of the psychology of science. The writing is entertaining and compelling. The book should be of interest to every psychologist and a very wide audience of educated laypersons" (Prize Committee)

"This book does two things: It provides a comprehensive review of the origins and development of scientific thinking, and it argues for a dedicated study of the psychology of science. . . . The book is entertaining and introduces a perspective on understanding science and the scientific mind that should benefit a wide audience."--Magda Osman, Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA)

"Have you ever wondered what goes on inside scientists' heads when they formulate a grand theory? Or when they decide what hypothesis to test? How does this differ from the mundane reasoning involved when you explain why your car won't start or choose a birthday present for a relative? More generally, do scientists use the same cognitive mechanisms available to us all (supplemented with formal, conceptual, and technological tools)? Or does scientific thinking require more specialized cognitive abilities, available to only a talented few? If you are interested in such questions, then Gregory Feist's The Psychology of Science and the Origins of the Scientific Mind is the book to read...The Psychology of Science and the Origins of the Scientific Mind succeeds on many levels. Feist pulls together a vast range of psychological research with clarity and insight, and he advances an intriguing framework for the cognitive origins of scientific thinking. The book makes a strong case for an integrated study of the psychology of science.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book makes an argument for the establishment of a new academic discipline, " The Psychology of Science". In its first part it discusses the qualities and character of those who do scientific work. In its second it gives a evolutionary psychological explanation of the development of science. This development is summarized by Russ D. Tweny in his outstanding review of this book in 'American Scientist'

The explanation " builds on recent work in evolutionary psychology, cognitive anthropology and evolutionary biology, applying concepts from all of these areas to sketch a theory of how the modern scientific mind could have evolved. Drawing from such writers as Mervin Donald and Steven Mithen, Feist proposes four stages, beginning with "preverbal science," originating perhaps two million years ago, in which predictive folk science operated. The evolution of language (which took place perhaps 50,000 years ago) triggered a second phase, "verbal science," in which storytelling, myth and cosmological explanations appeared, followed by the emergence of externalized representations (about 30,000 years ago--think cave paintings). These depictions signaled the beginning of a phase of applied science in which units of measurement, rudimentary mathematical operations, archaic forms of astronomy and the like were developed, culminating in the engineering achievements of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. The final stage, that of "pure science," then emerged with the ancient Greeks (around 2,600 years ago), opening the door to science as we think of it today."

Tweney wonders whether Feist's definition of Scientific work is not too broad but he highly endorses the book as a rich and comprehensive pioneering study.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tod S. Christianson on September 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
I came to this book as a scientist who is looking for clarification of his own understanding of science in general and for perspective on his particular branch of science, which in my case happens to be Forensic Science. In the first part of the book, the author spends a great deal of time laying out the framework and clarifying the need for a discipline dedicated to studying The Psychology of Science. This section is very thorough and well reasoned but it is more intended for an audience from the Psychology discipline.

Upon completion of the argument for the creation of a new branch of Psychological inquiry related to Science, the author then proceeds to analyze the foundations of science from a developmental and cognitive point of view. I found this perspective to be extremely interesting because it is not the typical way the foundations or Philosophy of Science are presented. For example, there is a detailed discussion on the origins of scientific thinking resulting from five key components: observation, categorization, pattern recognition, hypothesis testing and causal thinking. Most books dealing with science focus on two or three of these concepts and they are usually treated in a linear fashion. This book not only increases the breadth of the discussion but also enriches its complexity by proposing that the process is a circular interrelated one.

The Title of the book, "The Psychology of Science and the Origins of the Scientific Mind" implies two distinct discussions. Hopefully a Philosophy of Science discipline will be formalized in the not too distant future. Once that happens I think a single book on the Origins of the Scientific Mind should be considered. Such a book, targeted at a general scientific audience, would certainly become a classic in scientific literature.

I highly recommend this book for scientists and those interested in the philosophy, history and foundations of scientific thought.
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