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Lecture 2

PSYA01H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Hermann Von Helmholtz, Psychophysics, Wilhelm Wundt


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYA01H3
Professor
Steve Joordens
Lecture
2

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PSYA01
Chapter 1 Lecture 2
The Birth and Early Years
In the early stages, philosophers would argue whether humans have a soul
However, the argument in this course is not that humans don’t have souls but when we’re
studying something, we have to go into the course thinking that things follow the natural law
and these are not spiritual, and that they can study it scientifically
So the whole notion of trying to understand ourselves started to gain recognition as
philosophers and biologists started to think of humans in more materialistic terms
Germany
Geopolitical Context
Many of the early psychologists were from germany not a coincidence
Germany, at time (mid 1800s to late 1800s) was a single country and was economically
very powerful
They started to think about how to invest their money in order to make their
country prosperous
They invested in research, because the notion is: if you’re
understanding things (ie human behaviour), then that understanding
that can help you succeed
There was an openness to asking “what else should we study?”
Demonstrations
Scientifically Study the Mind?
Hermann von Helmholtz
Measuring speed of neural impulses
When scientists starting experimented on animals, they saw lots of nerve fibres, as though they
were “roads” on which signals were sent down
The question of “how fast does our body transmit signals?”
Not highly precise measurement to see this
His experiments consisted of people holding hands, and squeezing each other’s hand, and timing
how long it would take for each hand to be squeezed in the chain of people
Measuring the average distance from hand to hand, and the time it took for the signal to
travel
He was able to do this and found that our nerves send signals at a relatively slow
rate
Proved that to some extent, humans are complex biological beings
Ernst Weber
Psychophysics
Physics was the study of the external world, and how things work in the external world
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