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Chapter 8

PSYC85H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 8: Edward B. Titchener, Psychophysical Parallelism, Wilhelm Wundt

Course Code
Michelle Hilscher

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C85: History of Psychology
Chapter 8: Structure or Function?
Went to Leipzig to study with Wundt and later established a psychological lab in Cornell University. His
work is similar to Wundts experimental psych, but the complexity of Wundts approach to psych was lost
in Titchener’s much simpler approach. He was unsympathetic to unconscious concepts.
He distinguished psych from other disciplines in terms of the different points of view taken.
Introspection- the process by which individuals describe their experience.
Human experience is embodied in the sense that it cannot exist apart from someones nervous system;
however Titchener did not reduce human experience to events in the nervous system. Rather, events in the
nervous system run parallel to those in human experience but should not be seen as causing them.
psychophysical parallelism- the doctrine that for every event in the mind there is a corresponding event
in the body.
Titchener believed psychology to be generalized human mind by means of experimental introspection.
By generalized’ he meant that psych was to develop principles that were true of all minds, not just some
minds. Although he acknowledged that many interesting cases of unusual mental processes occur, these
were not to be used to form the basis of psychology.
He did not believe that only humans have minds, he argued that the range of mind...appears to be as wide
as the range of animal life; however animal psych was not a central feature of the discipline (his opinion)
Mind began to seem to other psychologists to be a slippery category
Structuralism- the attempt to uncover the elementary structure of the mind (Titchener)
He went through 4 different phases which shaped his career life:
Phase 1 Differentiating bw structural and functional psych
Phase 2 Produced Experimental Psychology: A Manual of Lab Practice
Phase 3 Defends himself against critics as the Wurzburgers.
Phase 4 Develops an abstract approach to the study of consciousness
Phase 1
Differentiating bw structural and functional psych he established the basic characteristics of
his introspectionist approach
tried to differentiate bw a structural and a functional psychology

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subject matter of psych is consciousness which can be understood in terms of what it is (structure)
or what it does (function)
onaturally, we should know what consciousness is before we try to say what it is for; we
can discover structure of consciousness through introspective experimentation
oBiology: anatomy (deals with structure) and physiology (deals with functions)
We ordinarly experience perceptions, ideas and emotions. By means of introspection, Titchener argued
that everyone admits that sensations are elementary mental processes and underlie our perceptions.
Images also figured large in Titcheners system. Ideas were believed to be accompanied by images.
He also believed that affection was the elementary process of underlying emotions; Wundt had
developed an elaborate tri-dimensional theory of feeling, but Titchener simplified the number of
affective dimensions into just one: pleasant-unpleasant
Titcheners Experimental Psychology
Phase 2
Produced Experimental Psychology: A Manual of Lab Practice
He lays out how a beginning student in experimental psych is to acquire the fundamental skills of
the discipline
a psychological experiment consists of an introspection or a series of introspections made under
standard conditions; however to introspect, one must learn the right vocabulary
Problem arises when students are taught the language to use when describing their experience=
Titchener says good terminology should be absolutely transparent, letting the facts be seen
through the words, the terms must be neither familiar or unfamiliar
Students must be taught new language bc ordinary language usually describes events in the
external world and not our experience of those events
Stimulus error- describing the object rather than the ones experience of the object, students are
trained to avoid this error
oH/w critics say there is never precisely how the person learns to introspect, the language
of experimental introspection is imprecise and unreliable
The content of his experimental psych was divided into two: qualitative and quantitative
Titchener and the Imageless-Thought Controversy
Phase 3
Defends himself against critics as the Wurzburgers.

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The Wurzburgers reported that introspection often yielded nothing more clear and distinct than imageless
thoughts. This concept was inconsistent with Titchener’s way of analyzing mental processes, since he
maintained that ideas were always accompanied by images.
The Wurzburgers implied that some mental processes may be unconscious and therefore
inaccessible through introspection
Workers in Titcheners lab were able to find the imageless thoughts were not really imageless at
He argued that sensitive introspection disclosed kinaesthetic sensations, perhaps arising from the
speech musculature as the person spoke silently to themselves while introspecting
oh/w different introspectionist labs were coming up with different results
results of Titcheners work in this area were not entirely negative, but led to future research
Titchener and the Dimensions of Consciousness
Phase 4
Develops an abstract approach to the study of consciousness.
He began to stress the analysis of consciousness in terms of dimensions
He never settled the question of precisely what dimensions of consciousness were or how many
there were, he died before producing great work on the subject
oDimensions of consciousness- fundamental aspects of consciousness
One of his most famous students, E.G.Boring published an account of what he took to be some of
Titchener’s central views he singled out four dimensions for discussion:
quality- refers to variation in basic experiences (i.e. colour)
intensity- refers to the strength of an experience (i.e. how strong an odour is)
extensity- refers to experiences extended in space
protensity- refers to the duration of an experience in time
oThese dimensions all refer to sensory experience
Boring also noted the phenomenological nature of the dimensional approach to experience, and
many other commentators have suggested that before his death, Titchener had been moving away
from elementarism towards phenomenology
Functionalism- a distinctively American, eclectic approach to psych centered in the Uni of Chicago;
considered one of the schools of psychology
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