“The Synthetic Experiment: E. B. Titchener’s Cornell Psychological Laboratory and the Test of Introspective Analysis,” by Rand B. Evans. The abstract reads,
Beginning in 1900, a major thread of research was added to E. B. Titchener’s Cornell laboratory: the synthetic experiment. Titchener and his graduate students used introspective analysis to reduce a perception, a complex experience, into its simple sensory constituents. To test the validity of that analysis, stimulus patterns were selected to reproduce the patterns of sensations found in the introspective analyses. If the original perception can be reconstructed in this way, then the analysis was considered validated. This article reviews development of the synthetic method in E. B. Titchener’s laboratory at Cornell University and examines its impact on psychological research.
“The Method of Negative Instruction: Herbert S. Langfeld’s and Ludwig R. Geissler’s 1910–1913 Insightful Studies,” by Robert W. Proctor and Aiping Xiong. The abstract reads,
Herbert S. Langfeld and Ludwig R. Geissler published insightful articles during the period of 1910–1913 using what they called the Method of Negative Instruction, which anticipated much current research on action control and the role of instructions. We review their studies and relate the findings to contemporary research and views concerning task-irrelevant congruency effects and deception, concluding that their work has not received the credit it warrants. We also call for contemporary researchers to revisit prior studies, especially ones conducted before the cognitive revolution in psychology, to enrich their knowledge of the field and improve the quality of their research.
“Putting attachment in its place: Disciplinary and cultural contexts,” by Marga Vicedo. The abstract reads,
This paper examines the reception of John Bowlby’s and Mary Ainsworth’s ethological theory of attachment among anthropologists and cultural psychologists. First, it shows that from Margaret Mead’s criticisms in the mid 1950s to the present, many of them have challenged the main tenets of attachment theory but attachment theorists ignored those challenges. Second, it argues that we need to understand the different disciplinary goals of psychology and anthropology after WWII in order to illuminate the lack of attention to children’s cultural context in attachment research. The privileging within psychology of laboratory data over field observations supported the rise of attachment research focused on the strange situation procedure and contributed to the neglect of ethnographic data about children in their socio-cultural milieu. Recognizing the importance of studying children in context, however, recent studies by anthropologists and developmental psychologists sensitive to the power of culture have deepened the challenge to attachment theory.
The Winter 2014 issue of the American Journal of Psychology is now available online. The issue’s “History of Psychology” section includes two articles of interest to AHP readers. Robert Proctor and Rand Evans discuss the complicated relationship between Edward Titchener and female psychologists, given that he trained a number of early American female psychologists, yet excluded women from his society the Experimentalists. In another piece Serge Nicolas and Jacy Young (full disclosure: the latter is the author of this blog post) introduce a translation of a French description of the psychology laboratory at Clark University from 1893. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“E. B. Titchener, Women Psychologists, and the Experimentalists,” by Robert W. Proctor and Rand Evans. The abstract reads,
A well-known fact is that E. B. Titchener, a major figure in psychology in the first quarter of the 20th century, excluded women from the group known as the Experimentalists, which he formed in 1904. This fact provides the basis for depicting him as a misogynist. Less well known and publicized is that he was arguably the strongest advocate for women psychologists in the United States throughout his academic career. He supervised the graduate study of Margaret Washburn, the first woman to receive a PhD in psychology in the United States, directed more than 20 dissertations for women psychologists, most of which were published in The American Journal of Psychology, and influenced and befriended others who were not his PhD students. The purpose of this article is to make psychologists more aware of the prominent role Titchener played in the education of early women psychologists and to reconcile this contribution with his position that the Experimentalists should be restricted to men.
Occasional AHP contributor, and York University History and Theory of Psychology doctoral candidate Jennifer Bazar, has just released three short videos on the history of psychology on YouTube. The videos, each approximately 5 minutes long, explore the psychology exhibit at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair (above), the history of the psychology laboratory at Wellesley College (below), and introspection (bottom), respectively. While great on their own, the videos are also fantastic resources for those teaching the history of psychology!