Subject Matter of Psychology

The Subject matter of psychology According to Wundt, the subject matter of psychology is to be immediate experience, as contrasted to mediate experience. By mediate experience Wundt meant experiences used as a way to find out about something other than the experience itself. This is the way in which we use experience in gaining knowledge about the world.

Immediate experience is the experience as such, and the task of psychology is to study this immediate experience. The physicists are, on the other hand,  interested in studying only the mediate experience, but the Wundtian psychologists study immediate experience.

Main Presumption

• All human mental experience could be understood as the combination of simple events or elements. By analyzing the basic elements of sensations and other mental experiences, the underlying structure of the mind could be unveiled

• Task of psychology is to identify the basic elements of consciousness just like physicists could break down the basic particles of matter

At Wundt’s Laboratory

• Studies and experiments were conducted on the fundamental elements that form the foundation of thinking, consciousness, emotions and other mental states

• Systematic, organized and objective procedures were used so that replication was possible

• The procedure used for studying the “structure of mind” was called “Introspection”; a method used to study the structure of the mind, in which subjects were asked to describe in detail what they were experiencing when exposed to a stimulus. Introspection o The subjects gave detailed reports of what they experienced when they were exposed to a stimulus

The Impact of Wundt’s Lab

Attracted leading scientists and students from Europe and U.S.A.

James Mckeen Cattell

Known for his work on individual differences and “Mental Tests”.

Emil Kraeplin

Postulated a physical cause of mental illness

In 1883, he gave the first classification system of mental disorders

Hugo Munsterberg

First to apply psychology to industry and law

Edward B. Tichener

Known as the formal founder of Structuralism

Edward Bradford Tichener

• American psychologist, who was English by birth, but German in professional and Personal temperament, who spent his most productive years in Cornell University, New York.

• He was solely concerned with studying the brain, and the unconscious, and for this he believed, we should break it down into basic elements. After that, we can construct the separate elements into a whole and understand what it does.

• He believed that we can study perception, emotions and ideas through introspection, by reducing them to their elementary parts

• There are four elements in the sensation of taste: sweet, sour, salty and bitter

• Ideas and images are related: ideas were always accompanied by images

• The underlying process in emotions was affection

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