Who was Margaret Floy Washburn, and what was she known for?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The first woman to have earned a PhD. in psychology and the second woman to have served as president of the American Psychology Association, Margaret Floy Washburn, who earned her doctoral degree from Harvard in 1894 went on to teach at Vassar College for thirty-six years, never marrying because she would, then, lose her position at the college.

Ms. Washburn is best known for her publication of The Animal Mind, a study of over 100 different species and their cognition and behavior. Because her interest was in the manifestation of mental states through behavior, Washburn conducted many close studies of motor development; her publication of Movement and Mental Imagery offered her proposals of a correlation between motor skills and psychological conditions. In fact, this belief in a connection between behavior and mental processes and consciousness was radical for her time as Washburn's studies were a merging of introspectionism and behaviorism. Washburn contributed more than 100 scholarly articles on such areas as animal behavior and psychology, experimental psychology, differences in behavior in individuals, and spatial reasoning.

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laurto | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Margaret Floy Washburn was a psychologist and was best known for her experimental work in animal behavior and motor theory development. Her primary contribution was to the study of consciousness and the examination of mental processes in animals and humans. She was also the first woman with a PhD in the field of psychology. Washburn also served as an APA (American Psychology Association) president. 

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