Tag Archives: Wolfgang Köhler

New HHS: Psych & Ethnology, Mental Tests in Russia, & More!

The October 2014 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online. Among the articles included in this issue are ones exploring the relationship between psychology and ethnology, the role of mental tests in Russian child science, and the Psychological Institute of the Republic of South Africa by Wahbie Long (right). Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“On relations between ethnology and psychology in historical context,” by Gustav Jahoda. The abstract reads,

Ever since records began, accounts of other peoples and their institutions and customs have included comments about their mental characteristics. The present article traces this feature from the 18th century to roughly the First World War, with a brief sketch of more recent developments. For most of this period two contrasting positions prevailed: the dominant one attributed human differences to ‘race’, while the other one explained them in terms of psychological, environmental and historical factors. The present account focuses on the latter, among them those who asserted ‘the psychic unity of mankind’. Generally it is shown that from the early period when writings were based almost entirely on secondary sources, to the beginnings of empirical studies, ethnological theories were indissolubly linked to psychological concerns.

“The mental test as a boundary object in early-20th-century Russian child science,” by Andy Byford. The abstract reads, Continue reading New HHS: Psych & Ethnology, Mental Tests in Russia, & More!

CfP: Symposium de la Sociedad Española de Historia de la Psicología


The Sociedad Española de Historia de la Psicología (SEHP) has issued a call for papers for their XXVIII Symposium. To be held in Tenerife, Spain May 7th-9th 2015, the meeting marks the centennial of Gestalt psychologist Wolfgang Köhler‘s experiments at the Prussian Academy of Sciences anthropoid research station in Tenerife. Organizer Justo Hernandez notes the meeting welcomes contributions on all topics in the history of psychology, but papers dealing with the history of Gestalt psychology and the history of comparative psychology are particularly welcome. More information is coming soon to the conference website.

Köhler’s Anthropoid Research Station, Circa 2011

In 1913, Gestalt psychologist Wolfgang Köhler moved from Germany to the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands. In Puerto de la Cruz on the island of Tenerife, Köhler assumed the directorship of the Prussian Academy of Science Anthropoid Research Station where he conducted important early work on tool use in apes. Famous images from Köhler’s ape research include that of apes stacking wooden crates to reach bananas hanging out of research. His research with apes led him to argue that it was insight rather than trial-and-error that allowed apes to problem solve. In 1917 he published his findings as the book, The Mentality of Apes.

Today the Tenerife research station still exists, but in a state of disrepair. The station has been classified as a cultural interest site by the Spanish government and the Wolfgang Köhler Association is working toward the site’s restoration. The videos above show the site as it exists today, interspersed with film clips from Köhler’s original research and is it part of an ongoing documentary project, INSIGHT. Though the film’s audio is in Spanish, the images are striking.

Tip ‘o the hat to Gabriel Ruiz for bringing these videos to AHP’s attention during a recent discussion on the Cheiron (the International Society for the History of the Behavioral and Social Sciences) and Society for the History of Psychology (Division 26 of the American Psychological Association) listserves.