Kurt Lewin Films on YouTube

The Virtual Laboratory, a wonderful online resource on the history of experimentation, has posted excerpts from several of psychologist Kurt Lewin’s child development films on YouTube. The film featured above, Field Forces as Impediments to a Performance (1925), shows the difficulties encountered by several children as they attempt to sit down for the first time. Also featured on YouTube is Lewin’s The Child and the Field Forces (1925), illustrating his field theory of behaviour, as well as Lewin and Marjorie A. Leonhard’s Levels of Aspiration in Young Children (1940), which explores problem solving in young children.

A project of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science,

The Virtual Laboratory is a digitalization project devoted to the history of the experimentalization of life. Its main focus is the interaction between the life sciences, arts and architecture, media and technology. It consists of two related parts, an archive and the laboratory.

As an archive, the VL offers numerous scans of texts and images concerning experiments, instruments, buildings, scientists and artists between 1830 and 1930 as well as categorized datasheets derived from this holdings.

The laboratory constitutes a platform where historians of science, culture and technology as well as students can present their recent research on the experimentalization of life and explore new modes of writing history.

A number of history of psychology related films are featured on the Virtual Laboratory site itself, including:

Dallenbach, K. M. and Clark Trown et al. 1970. Psychologists 1927-1933. 20:17 min.

Dallenbach, Karl M., Milton Cotzin and Michael Supa. 1941. “Facial Vision” The Perception of Obstacles by the Blind. 11:58 min.

Lewin, Kurt. 1924, about. Walking Upstairs for the First Time. 03:56 min.

Anonymous [Studio for popular films Moscow]. n.d. Conditioned reflexes in animals (Pavlov). 08:30 min. (Bundesarchiv, Abt Film Archive)

Also available on the site are fuller versions of the Lewin films available on YouTube:

Lewin, Kurt and Marjorie R. Leonard. 1940, about. Level of Aspiration in Young Children. 10:54 min.

Lewin, Kurt. 1925, about. Field Forces as Impediments to a Performance. 09:04 min.

Lewin, Kurt. 1925, about. The Child and the Field Forces. 11:11 min.

The full film collection of the Virtual Laboratory can be found here.

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About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a doctoral student in the History and Theory of Psychology program at York University. Her dissertation explores the early history of questionnaires in American psychology.