Psychology's Founding Father The Life and Work of Wilhelm Wundt

Wilhelm Wundt was a German physician, physiologist, and philosopher who is widely known as the father of psychology. He established the first psychology laboratory in 1879 at the University of Leipzig. Wundt’s approach to psychology was experimental and relied on introspection, or self-examination, as a method of studying consciousness. His work was influential in the development of different schools of thought within psychology, including structuralism and functionalism.

Psychology’s founding father: The incredible life of Wilhelm Wundt

Wilhelm Wundt is known as the father of scientific psychology. Because he pioneered the introduction of mental processes into a laboratory. Producing changes in certain variables and analyzing the results. All of his findings may have been updated. But to a large extent our desire to investigate is inherited from the line he started.

Perhaps less known than others, the figure of Wilhelm Wundt marks the history of our knowledge of the mind. We are talking about the father of scientific psychology. An honorary title that a good number of psychologists say he deserves.

The psychological origin as such should be sought perhaps centuries ago. Scientific psychology, however, has a strong root in this era. Wundt, in the middle of the 19th century, created the first experimental laboratory.

Let’s move on to the background. Today, psychology has its own academic path. Any student can pursue a university degree, do a master’s degree. Choose their specialization, take advantage of unregulated courses and training to complete their knowledge, etc.

However, if we go back a few centuries, psychology as such was not regulated. Thus, anyone who wanted to study it had to be formed, to some extent, by associated branches, such as medicine or philosophy. At the origin of knowledge, it was located in philosophical readings, such as those of Plato or Aristotle. Starting from this context, we tell you about Wilhelm Wundt and his contribution to changing this course.

Now we understand psychology as a part of our life. It’s as if she had always been by our side. In 1832, the year Wilhelm Wundt was born, not only did such a perception not exist. Nor could one imagine that human behavior deserved a science and/or a field of study in itself.

The Importance of Wilhelm Wundt in Modern Psychology

In this way, it is considered that psychology itself was born in 1879. What happened at this time in history? This is the year that Wundt inaugurates the first experimental psychology laboratory in history. The event took place in the city of Leipzig. Until then, we found philosophers like Hume or Descartes. Who worked from a philosophical point of view on the nature of ideas. The human perception of the environment, etc.

But the basics necessary for the study of the brain and the statistical matter began with Wundt. In this way, it was easier to understand human behavior, since the first measuring instruments were designed.

It can be said that the era in which Wundt lived was revolutionary in the current field. With him, other important researchers appeared, such as Francis Galton. Who devoted part of his efforts to the experimental study of memory. With them, Gustav Fechner was already studying the physical stimulation produced by stimuli of different intensity and nature.

“Our mind is so equipped, fortunately, that it leads us to the most important bases of our thoughts without our having the slightest knowledge of this work of elaboration. The results of it remain unconscious. »

-Wilhelm Wundt-

The laboratory

It was in the 50s of the 19th century that Wilhelm Wundt decided to go further in the scientific study of the mind. He decided to combine the experimental method. With statistics to generate reproducible strategies that would allow us to better understand how our brain works.

Wundt took a very important step when he dropped out of his physiology classes at the University of Heidelberg. He left his comfortable teaching job and went to Leipzig. Where he introduced mental processes in a controlled environment, the laboratory. The idea was to produce certain oscillations in different variables to analyze the effect of this change. Keeping the rest of the unstudied parameters constant.

To do this, Fechner’s methodology was used to study perceptions and sensations. For example, exposing volunteers to different stimuli. Then, once he had used the models, he analyzed the results he had obtained for associations or differences. In this way, he obtained data by eliminating the external factors such as noise, position, etc.

So, although today most of Wilhelm Wundt’s theories have been dismissed. There is no doubt that his way of trying to answer questions involved questions that somehow had always been there. By taking advantage of speculation more than data to solve them.

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