“A Complete Emancipation from Philosophy”: Alfred Lehmann’s Laboratory of Psychophysics at the University of Copenhagen, 1886–1924

New in the American Journal of Psychology:

““A Complete Emancipation from Philosophy”: Alfred Lehmann’s Laboratory of Psychophysics at the University of Copenhagen, 1886–1924,” by Jörgen L. Pind. Abstract:

Alfred Lehmann (1858–1921) was the pioneer of experimental psychology in Denmark. Educated as a natural scientist, he spent the winter of 1885–1886 in Wundt’s laboratory in Leipzig. Upon his return to Copenhagen he established the Laboratory of Psychophysics, one of the oldest laboratories of psychology in the world. It would soon become associated with the University of Copenhagen, where Lehmann gained a position in 1890. Lehmann was a tireless experimenter in his laboratory and an important contributor to experimental psychology in its first decades. At the outset of his scientific career, Lehmann focused mainly on the bodily correlates of mental states, emotions in particular. He was an early critic of the James–Lange theory of emotions. Lehmann was also an ardent critic of claims of the paranormal and did experimental work where he attempted to establish the “psychophysical conditions” for the widespread belief in superstition and magic at the turn of the 20th century. Near the end of his career, Lehmann embarked on work in applied psychology, simultaneously realizing his dream of establishing psychology as an independent subject at the University of Copenhagen in 1918. His new curriculum for a master’s degree in psychology emphasized experimental and applied work, free of the field’s earlier ties to philosophy. Lehmann’s turn to applied psychology was instrumental in the success of his curricular reform of psychology education.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.