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Lecture 5: Wundt

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Western University
Psychology 3950F/G
Mark Cole

Lecture 5: Wundt and Voluntarism Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920)  Medical studies at Heidelberg (1852-55)  Worked with Johannes Muller (Law of Specific Nerve Energies)  PhD (Heidelberg, 1856)  Privatdozent in physiology and assistant to Hermann von Helmholtz (1857-1864)  Professor of Philosophy (1875) The Laboratory  Founded a laboratory at Leipzig (1875) o N.B. William James also started a laboratory at Harvard in 1875  Fully established by 1879 – denotes the birth of psychology The Work at Leipzig  Trained many of the second generation of psychologists oIn America: G. Stanley Hall, James McKeen Cattell, James Angell, and Edwin Titchener o In Germany: Emil Kraeplin, Oswald Kulpe, and Hugo Munsterberg  Supervised 186 doctoral dissertations!  Principles of Physiological Psychology (1873 and 1874)  Physiological Psychology: the “marriage” of physiology and psychology o Physiology: observations using the senses (echoes Locke) o Psychology: inner observation (echoes Plato and Descartes)  Also published Volkerpsychologie (folk psychology) o Close to what we could call social psychology today, but its main study was language  Founded and edited the journal philosophical Studies (renamed Psychological Studies) o Probably the first psychology journal to come into existence o Started the journal because he needed a place to publish his work The Thought Meter  Clock whose pendulum struck a bell at the extremes of its swings  Arc-like scale measured location of pendulum  Pendulum not seen at extremes when bell was heard  Simultaneous attention to information from two modalities not possible o I.e., listen and then look (or vice versa)  Argues that lag was the time it took for central processing to occur Other Laboratory Research Psychophysics  More research in the Fechner tradition  E.g., loudness and sound pressure level, and brightness and light intensity Sensory Discreteness  Difference thresholds involving timing of events o How much time must be between two flashes of light for you to detect that there were two flashes  Foreshadowed the later work by the Gestaltists on apparent motion Mental Chronometry  Most unique to Wundt  Discriminated reaction time 1/10 of a second longer than simple reaction time  Attributed to central processing time  Requiring separate responses added 1/10 second to normal discriminated reaction time  Extra delay attributed to central processing of the volitional choice (discriminating between the two stimuli) Wundt‟s Ideas About Psychology Mediate vs. Immediate Experience  Mediate experience gained through the external senses o May be furthered mediated by the use of instruments o Experience gained through the external senses (e.g., vision) o That information is somewhat distorted (Plato – didn‟t trust sensory experience) o Approach mediate experience with caution because it is, after all, mediated – first by the eyes, ears, nose, etc. (necessary) and second by telescopes, glasses, ophthalmoscopes, etc. (instruments)  Immediate experience involved direct examination of consciousness o I.e., not mediated by anything,
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