Applied History of Psychology/Establishment of the Field

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Wundt and his two psychologies[edit]

Wilhem Maximilian Wundt is generally recognized as the founder of experimental psychology, although he also contributed to social psychology (psychology of culture - Völkerpsychologie). Wundt was trained in physiology and psychology. His approach to the study of the mind was ground-breaking in that it was based on systematic and rigorous observation, laying the foundation for the modern psychological experiment. He systematically studied topics such as attention span, reaction time, vision, emotion and time perception.

Wundt's primary method of research was "introspection". This involved training people to concentrate and report on their conscious experiences as they reacted to stimuli. This approach is still used today in modern neuroscience research. For instance, Tibetan monks who have trained themselves to be able to sustain attention are asked to keep track of their inner experiences while undergoing neuroimaging (Carter, Presti, Callistemon, Ungerer, Liu, & Pettigrew, 2005).

Wundt had a very productive career in psychology. He founded the first laboratory dedicated to the scientific study of the mind, supervised a total of 186 doctoral dissertations, taught thousands of students, founded the first scholarly psychological journal (Philosophical Studies), and published a large volume of scientific studies.