Wilhelm Wundt


Wilhelm WundtWilhelm Wundt was a German physiologist and psychologist, generally acknowledged as the founder of experimental psychology. He graduated with a medical degree from the University of Heidelberg in 1856. He studied briefly with Johannes Müller, before joining the University of Heidelberg faculty, where he became an assistant to the physicist and physiologist Hermann von Helmholtz in 1858. It was during this period that Wundt offered his course in scientific psychology. Until then, psychology had been regarded as a branch of philosophy to be conducted primarily by rational analysis. Wundt instead stressed the use of experimental methods drawn from the natural sciences. His lectures on psychology were published as Lectures on the Mind of Humans and Animals (1863). He was promoted to Assistant Professor of Physiology in 1864.

In his book Principles of Psychology, Wundt promoted a system of psychology for investigating the immediate experiences of consciousness, including sensations, feelings, volitions, apperception and ideas. He used his own and his colleagues introspections as a source of his data.

In 1871, Wundt began publication of a scientific journal of psychology, Philosophical Studies. In 1875 he accepted a teaching and research position at the University of Leipzig where, in 1879, he established the first psychological laboratory. His idea was to give his student hands on experiences with collecting data.

See Wundt's 1896 Outlines of Psychology.

Wundt may be best known in America for his progeny-students who used his methods to found a new, laboratory-based, experimental psychology. Among the best known of his students to have an impact on the new psychology in the United States were:

Wundt also influenced well known European psychologists including: Emil Kraepelin (1856-1926) and Oswald Külpe (1862-1915).