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Chapter 5

PSYC85H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Forgetting Curve, Experimental Psychology, Wilhelm Wundt

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Michelle Hilscher

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Chapter 5
Wundt invented a non-experimental approach called ‘cultural psychology’ that was a precursor of social
Willhelm Wundt (1832-1920)
-Born in Germany, Wundt studied with both Muller and Helmholtz before becoming a prof at Leipzig in
1. The first is that he founded what is often called the first laboratory in experimental psychology,
at Leipzig in 1879.
2. His laboratory attracted a great many young scholars, often Americans, who then went on to
develop psychology elsewhere.
-Historians of psychology placed Wundt first in a ranking of the most eminent psychologist of all time
-Wundt established the precedent that at least two kinds of method are necessary in psychology
1. laboratory-based experimentation, which was suited to the investigation of simple psychological
2. Involved naturalistic observation, which was suited to the exploration of psychological processes as
these were influenced by social and cultural factors.
-Schmidgen showed that Wundt’s earliest interests was experimental chemistry.
-Schmidgen noted that Wundt had been influenced by J.S. Mill’s notion of mental chemistry(chapter 3 ).
Mill argued that complex ideas were the result of the combination of simpler ones (ex. Salt NaCl). Mill
was skeptical of the possibility of discovering mental elements through introspection.
-Wundt believed that this goal might be accomplished using introspection combined with the
experimental method.
Introspection- Observations of ones own mental processes.
-Wundt was aware that there were problems with any introspective method. He made a distinction
between two forms of introspection: self-observation and inner perception.
-Self-observation of the sort casually engaged in by everyone cannot be the basis of a scientific
psychology because it is open to personal bias.
Inner perception- A method of introspection performed under controlled conditions. Such
observations would still be too subjective to be trustworthy unless they were made under strictly
controlled conditions. This is why the experimental method was so important to Wundt.
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