Wilhelm Wundt, one of the giants in psychology, was known as the father of experimental psychology, although Blumentha l credits him with a wider role in both experimental and human psychology, calling him the “founding father we never knew”.
Wundt is the founding father of psychology due to the following achievements:
- He founded the first experimental laboratory which greatly influenced the field of psychology, especially in the United States.
- In 1867, he taught the first course in physiological psychology and in 1873, published the first book on psychology, thus identifying psychology as its own branch of science, formulating its own questions and developing its unique methods.
- The first scientist in history to be called a “psychologist” and defined Structuralism as psychology’s first paradigm.
Philosophy and Wilhelm Wundt
Philosophy and its views, especially on the mind and the soul, have influenced psychology from its inception. Wundt’s physiological psychology has been of interest to both disciplines to this day. Disagreeing with those of his time who argued that the inner workings of the mind could not be exposed to study, Wundt used new methods in studying sensation and perception to determine what the human physiology, and so the mind, was about. His influential ten-volume Volkerpsychologie outlined his perspectivism as an alternative to experimental psychology. Wundt helped formulate the discipline of psychology that not only studied the behavior of the human, but gave psychologists the tools to help individuals develop their lives.
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Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) is a German psychologist, physiologist, and philosopher who is credited for being the founder of modern psychology. He was born in Neckaran, Baden to Maximilian and Marie Wundt. From 1851-1856, He attended the University of Tübingen, University of Heidelberg, and University of Berlin. He graduated from the University of Heideberg with a degree in medicine. He studied under Johannes Peter Müller. He then became the assistant to Herman von Helmholtz. In 1865, he wrote a textbook on physiology and a few years later he became a professor.
In 1879, Wundt founded the first psychological lab, The Institute for Experimental Psychology at the University of Leipzig. Using this laboratory he was able to study religious beliefs, mental disorders, sensory processes, and human behavior. Many students came to the University to be in his class and learn in the lab setting. Students were encouraged to conduct experiments and publish their results. In 1881, he founded the first psychology journal. Wundt continued teaching while also focusing on writing. Wundt is credited with writing an estimated 53,000 pages. One of his most popular writings was Principles of Physiological Psychology, which he wrote in 1874.
Wundt retired from teaching in 1917 and was replaced by one of his former students. He died in 1920 in Grossbothen at the age of 88.