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Psychopharmacology: Drugs, the Brain, and Behavior. Sinauer Associates

Gustav Fechner[edit]

Main article: Gustav Fechner

Fechner published in 1860 what is considered to be the first work of experimental psychology, “Elemente der Psychophysik.”[4] Some historians date the beginning of experimental psychology from the publication of “Elemente.” Weber was not a psychologist, and it was Fechner who realized the importance of Weber’s research to psychology. Fechner was profoundly interested in establishing a scientific study of the mind-body relationship, which became known as psychophysics. Much of Fechner’s research focused on the measurement of psychophysical thresholds and just-noticeable differences, and he invented the psychophysical method of limits, the method of constant stimuli, and the method of adjustment, which are still in use.

Oswald Külpe[edit]

Main article: Oswald Külpe

Oswald Külpe is the main founder of the Würzburg School in Germany. He was a pupil of Wilhelm Wundt for about twelve years. Unlike Wundt, Külpe believed experiments were possible to test higher mental processes. In 1883 he wrote Grundriss der Psychologie, which had strictly scientific facts and no mention of thought.[4] The lack of thought in his book is odd because the Würzburg School put a lot of emphasis on mental set and imageless thought.

Würzburg School[edit]

The work of the Würzburg School was a milestone in the development of experimental psychology. The School was founded by a group of psychologists led by Oswald Külpe, and it provided an alternative to the structuralism of Edward Titchener and Wilhelm Wundt. Those in the School focused mainly on mental operations such as mental set (Einstellung) and imageless thought. Mental set affects perception and problem solving without the awareness of the individual; it can be triggered by instructions or by experience. Similarly, according to Külpe, imageless thought consists of pure mental acts that do not involve mental images. An example of mental set was provided by William Bryan, an American student working in Külpe’s laboratory. Bryan presented subjects with cards that had nonsense syllables written on them in various colors. The subjects were told to attend to the syllables, and in consequence they did not remember the colors of the nonsense syllables. Such results made people question the validity of introspection as a research tool, and led to a decline of voluntarism and structuralism. The work of the Würzburg School later influenced many Gestalt psychologists, including Max Wertheimer.