William Preyer


William Preyer was a professor of physiology at the University of Jena. His research helped to establish the field of developmental psychology, particularly in the areas of language development and language pathology. His most recognized work, The Mind of the Child (1882), stimulated many studies on infant development, in both Europe and America. Preyer introduced careful, systematic methods of observation of developing children. His methods offered new approaches for study of children (Bronfenbrenner, 1985) that eventually led to the emergence of the field of developmental psychology (Rieber, 1975; Rieber & Vetter, 1980). In his book he offered the results of his studies of his son’s language development in which he postulated about the relationships between the children’s brain and language. Pryer’s work was readily acknowledged by those in American child study movement (Dennis, 2009, p. 309).

Preyer and those he influenced, arranged chronologically

Sanford, E. C. (1891). Notes on studies of the language of children. Pedagogical Seminary,1, 257-260.

Baldwin, J. M. (1893). A new method of child study. Science, 21, 213-21

Stevenson, A. (1893). The speech of children. Science, 21, 118-120

Lukens, H. T. (1894). Preliminary report on the learning of language. Pedagogical Seminary, 3, 424-460.

Dewey, J. (1894). The psychology of infant language. Psychological Review, 1, 63-66.

Raymond, E. H. (1907). The psychological experiences connected with the different parts of speech. Psychological Review, Monograph Supplement, 8, 1-42.

Shinn, M. W. (1908). Notes on the development of a child (Vol.I, University of California Publications in Education). Berkeley: The University Press.

Cooley, C. H. (1908). A study of the early use of self-words by a child. Psychological Review, 15, 339-357.

Shinn, M.W. (1909). Notes on the development of a child.Volume II.The development of the senses in the first three years of childhood. Lancaster, P A: New Era Printing.

Heilig, M. R. (1913). A child's vocabulary. Pedagogical Seminary, 20, 1-16.

Boyd, W. (1913). The beginnings of syntactical speech. II: A study in child linguistics. Child Study, 6, 47-51.

Bateman, W. G. (1914). A child's progress in speech, with detailed vocabularies. TheJournal of Educational Psychology, 5, 307-320.

Foulke, K., & Stinchfield, S. M. (1929). The speech development of four infants under two years of age. Journal of Genetic Psychology,36, 140-171.

Smith, L. (1930). An experimental investigation of young children's interest and expressive behavior responses to single statement, verbal repetition, and ideational repetition of content in animal stories. Child Development, 1, 232-247.

Adams, S. (1932). A study of the growth of language between two and four years. The Journal of Juvenile Research, 16, 269-277.

Rieber, R. W. (1975).The role of language and thought in developmental psycholinguistics: An historical review. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 263,7-11.

Rieber, R. W., & Vetter, H. (1980). Theoretical and historical roots of psycholinguistic research. In R. W. Rieber (Ed.), Psychology of language and thought (pp. 3-49). New York: Plenum.

Jaeger, S. (1982). Origins of child psychology: William Preyer. In W. Woodward & M. Ash (Eds.), The problematic science: Psychology in nineteenth-century thought (pp. 300-321). Praeger.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1985). Foreward. In G. Eckardt, W. G. Bringmann, & L. Sprung (Eds.), Contributions to a history of developmental psychology (pp. 1-3). Berlin: Mouton.

Dennis, M. (2009). William Preyer (1841-1897) and his neuropsychology of language acquisition. Developmental Neuropsychology, 1:4, 287-315, DOI: 10.1080/87565648509540317