Wilhelm Wundt's Theory, Structural Psychology and...

Wilhelm Wundt's Theory

Another approach to the study of the psyche was practiced by F. Galton's contemporary Wilhelm Wundt. His conviction that consciousness can be studied, carefully controlling stimuli and monitoring the intensity of reactions, has given rise to a fundamentally different methodology for studying psychic phenomena. In his laboratory, introspection was used to study mental processes such as perception, verbal associations, and feelings and emotions.

Wilhelm Wundt was born in Mannheim in the family of a pastor, graduating from high school, he studied at the medical faculty first in Tübingen, and then in Heidelberg. After graduation from the university, he refused the career of a doctor, defended his doctoral dissertation and took the post of professor of physiology. It happened in 1856. His job was to assist Professor Helmholtz.

In the years 1873-1874. his book "Fundamentals of Physiological Psychology", which actually initiated a new science, is published.

The researchers taught the subject to talk about their immediate impressions during the observation of various objects. Wundt and his colleagues were interested in the sensory experience of this man, so the interpretation of this experiment was not allowed to the subjects themselves. This research approach was in line with the tradition of empirical research in the natural sciences.

For example, describing his direct perception of the table, the subject had to characterize its hardness, color and size. According to Wundt, if a subject avoids such labels as the "table", he is able to more scientifically convey the basic elements of his consciousness.

Studies of the learning process of Hermann Ebbinghaus. The studies of another well-known psychologist Herman Ebbinghaus focused on the study of memory, attention and other cognitive functions. A hundred scientific studies are also characterized by the methodology adopted by then in the natural sciences. For example, by studying the technique of memorizing meaningless syllables that do not cause any semantic associations (for example: rok, gef , etc.), he came to the conclusion that it is possible to control the learning that has taken place in the past. He also believed that this would make possible an objective study of the processes of learning and memorizing as functions of the simplest ideas from which empiricists were repulsed.

Sometimes Ebbinghaus used himself as a test subject. This is not welcome in modern psychological research, but in this case it was this circumstance that enabled G. Ebbingauz to obtain interesting data.

Having compiled a list of 12 meaningless syllables, H. Ebbinghaus conducted a series of attempts to memorize them. At the same time, he looked at the list, remembered, and then wrote as many syllables as possible in the order that he remembered. Then I checked the results and repeated the attempts until I could reproduce the entire list in the correct order. Then he noted how many attempts it took to memorize the entire list.

In the course of these experiments, G. Ebbinghaus noticed that the longer the list of meaningless syllables, the more time it takes to memorize them. In addition, the more often he repeated attempts to memorize the list, the better the results were. He also noticed that the memorized lists were eventually forgotten, but for the subsequent restoration of them in memory it took less time than with a new memorization. This difference in the number of attempts to memorize was called preservation.

The results of his teaching and preservation of the memorized syllables G. Ebbingauz presented in the form of a graph. Thus, the first learning curve appeared (Figure 3.1).

The Curriculum of Learning by G. Ebbinghaus

Fig. 3.1. The learning curve of G. Ebbinghaus

F. Ebbingauz also drew attention to the fact that forgetting was minimized if he continued to memorize the list after the first time he could accurately reproduce it. This phenomenon, known as memorization, confirms the benefit of repeating the acquired material, even after it, apparently, is learned. In the XX century. the recurrence of the learned material will be adopted by all methods of training, its effectiveness in the consolidation of the acquired is not disputed. But at the end of the XX century. in a number of training systems, a negative attitude toward repetition in learning will also form.

An example is the Early Learning Techniques Nikolay Aleksandrovich Zaitsev (Russia), Glen Doman (USA) and other specialists. These authors proposed, as one of the principles of building their educational programs for teaching children of early ages, not to "repeat with them what was done in previous occupations." It was observed that such repetitions significantly reduce the motivation of the teaching.

It's not surprising to see this, it's enough to turn to your own life experience. Remember the teacher of music that makes the student "endlessly" repeat already annoying scales, teachers of physical education, requiring repetition of long-bored exercises, or a teacher of mathematics, who insists on repeating the long-learned theorem. All this, maybe, promotes effective assimilation, but is often perceived by students as a mockery.

In the study of the memory of G. Abbyigauz, it was found, in particular, that the verses are remembered faster than meaningless syllables, even though the lists of syllables included considerably fewer elements. Being developed in subsequent studies of other scientists, this idea will lead to the assertion that the meaningfulness of the memorized material is an important mnemic variable.

F. Ebbingauz is rightfully considered one of the first psychologists to study the learning and memory processes by analyzing the behavior available to observation. The results obtained by him were subsequently repeatedly confirmed in the studies of other scientists.

Structural psychology and functionalism about the mechanisms of learning

Student W. Wundt - American psychologist Edward Bradford Titchener (1867-1927) became the creator of the direction, which in psychology received the name "structuralism". The basic idea of ​​structuralists was that any entities, even such complex ones as human consciousness, can be reduced to simpler elements, thus revealing their structure. The idea was considered as the simplest element of consciousness. It was believed that the complication arises from the association of ideas with each other. When studying the process of association of ideas, representatives of structural psychology relied on the method of interpretation.

But at the end of the XIX century. in psychology an alternative to structuralism ripens. A number of researchers argue that consciousness can not be reduced to individual elements. It is necessary to study not what the consciousness consists of, but how it functions. This point of view was most definitely presented in the work of the American psychologist William James (1842-1910) "Fundamentals of Psychology". He argued that a person adapts to his environment rather than depends on her. Unlike structuralists, W. James considers the subject of psychology to be not individual elements of consciousness, but his flow as a holistic phenomenon.

The newly created theory was called "functionalism". It is noteworthy that the views of the functionalists are closely related to the evolutionary doctrine of Charles Darwin. This recognition by the psychology of the fact that all living things are subordinated to a single evolutionary process entitles psychologists to use the results of experiments with animals in creating models of human learning. It is also important that, if for the preceding concepts the environment had only the value of a stimulus, then the environment in the teachings of functionalists proves to be a force capable of not only provoking, but also changing life activity. Functionalists proceed from the notion that mental processes can not be viewed in isolation from the environment in which they take place. Psychologists, according to W. James, should study how people adapt to the environment, and what processes affect this adaptation.

In the field of vision of functionalists, first of all, it is how mental processes proceed, what they lead to and how they change depending on environmental conditions. Such processes as motivation, productive thinking, influence of emotions on behavior are studied.

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