A History of Psychology
Chapter 5:
Structuralism
Introduction
Wundt:
(experimental psychology)
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1. organization of elements
2. through Apperception
3. Mind has the power to
organize mental elements
voluntarily
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Titchener:
(structuralism)
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1. focused on elements
2. through Association
3. Analyze consciousness
into its component parts
and determine its
structure.
Structuralism---Edward Bradford Titchener(1867-1927)
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A. His life:
1. Born in England
2. Attended at Oxford U.
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a. philosophy and the classics
b. research assistant in physiology
c. interested in Wundt’s
psychology
Structuralism---Edward Bradford Titchener(1867-1927)
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2. 1892, studied with Wundt and earned Ph.D
at Leipzig
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3. Back to Oxford U. and wished to become
the English pioneer of Wundt’s psychology.
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4. However, his colleagues were skeptical of
scientific approach to philosophical issues.
Thus, he left England to Cornell U.
Structuralism---Edward Bradford Titchener(1867-1927)
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5. Cornell University (1893-1927)
 a. 1893-1900 established lab, did research, and
wrote articles.
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b. supervised more than 50 doctoral candidates
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c. directed students’ research topics
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d. built his system of structuralism
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e. translated Wundt’s books such as Principles of
Physiological Psychology
Structuralism---Edward Bradford Titchener(1867-1927)
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B. His work
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1. His books
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a. 1896: An Outline of Psychology
b. 1898: Primer of Psychology
c. 1901-1905: Experimental Psychology: A Manual of Lab
Practice
 1) stimulated growth of lab work in US
 2) influenced a generation of experimental psychology
 3) popular text, translated in to 5 languages
Structuralism---Edward Bradford Titchener(1867-1927)
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2. 1904: Titchener Experimentalists organized; men only.
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3. Accepted women in psychology graduate programs
 a. one-third of his doctoral students were women
 b. Margaret F. Washburn
 1) first woman Ph.D in psychology
 2) wrote important book on comparative
psychology (The Animal Mind, 1908)
 3) first woman psychologist elected to National
Academy of Sciences
 4) president of the APA
Structuralism---Edward Bradford Titchener(1867-1927)
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C. the content of conscious experience
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1. Subject matter of psychology
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a. conscious experience
b. as that experience is dependent on the person
who is actually experiencing it.
2. Dependent on the experiencing individual
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Other sciences: independent of experiencing
persons (e.g., temperature)
Structuralism---Edward Bradford Titchener(1867-1927)
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3. Consider phenomena in terms of how human
observe and experience these phenomena, e.g.,
light and sound.
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4. Stimulus error:
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Confusing the mental process with the object we are
observing.
See an apple and describe that object as an apple
instead of reporting the elements of color, brightness,
and shape they are experiencing.
Structuralism---Edward Bradford Titchener(1867-1927)
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5. Immediate versus mediate experience
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Color, brightness, or shape (immediate
experience)
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Other than color, brightness, or shape
(mediate experience: interpreting the
object)
Structuralism---Edward Bradford Titchener(1867-1927)
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6. Consciousness: the sum of our
experiences as they exist at a given time
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7. Mind: the sum of our experiences
accumulated over a lifetime
Structuralism---Edward Bradford Titchener(1867-1927)
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8. Pure science
 a. only legitimate purpose: to discover the
facts (structure) of the mind
 b. no applied aspects
 c. only normal adult humans
Structuralism---Edward Bradford Titchener(1867-1927)
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D. Introspection
1. Self-observation
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2. Relied on trained observers
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reporting the elements of their conscious state
3. Adopted Kulpe’s label, “systematic
experimental introspection”
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Used detailed, qualitative, subjective report of mental
activities during the act of introspecting
Structuralism---Edward Bradford Titchener(1867-1927)
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4. Opposed Wundt’s approach
 Wundt: synthesis (Whole)
 Titchener: component parts (Parts)
5. Goal: analysis; to discover the atoms of the
mind
Structuralism---Edward Bradford Titchener(1867-1927)
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6. Mechanist:
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subjects were “reagents” and were like mechanical
recording instruments
7. Proposed an experimental approach to
introspective observation in psychology:
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an experiment is an observations that can be
repeated, isolated, and varied
Structuralism---Edward Bradford Titchener(1867-1927)
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E. Elements of consciousness
1. Defined three essential problems for psychology
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a. reduce conscious processes to simplest components
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b. determine laws by which elements were associated
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c. connect the elements with their physiological
conditions
Structuralism---Edward Bradford Titchener(1867-1927)
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2. Aims: the same as those of the natural sciences
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3. Proposed three elementary states of consciousness
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a. sensations
 basic element of perception, e.g., sound or smell
b. images
 the element of idea, e.g., memory of past experiences
c. affective states
 the element of emotion, e.g., love, hate, and sadness
Structuralism---Edward Bradford Titchener(1867-1927)
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4. Discovered 44,500 basic elements of
sensation
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a. each is conscious
b. each is distinct from all others
c. each could combine with others to form
perceptions and ideas
Structuralism---Edward Bradford Titchener(1867-1927)
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5. characteristics of mental elements
 A. quality
 B. intensity
 C. duration
 D. clearness
6. Rejected Wundt’s tridimensional theory,
suggested only pleasure/displeasure
Structuralism---Edward Bradford Titchener(1867-1927)
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7. 1918:
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a. dropped concept of mental elements
b. suggested study of dimensions instead of basic elements
8. Early 1920s
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a. questioned term structural psychology
b. called his approach as “existential psychology”
c. considered replacement of introspection with
phenomenological approach (i.e., examining experience
just as it occurs, without trying to break it down into
elements)
Structuralism---Edward Bradford Titchener(1867-1927)
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III. Criticisms of Structuralism
A. Introspection
1. Method of introspection
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If the mind were capable of observing its own
activities, it needs to have two parts.
2. Definition of introspection
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Difficulty defining exactly what he meant
Structuralism---Edward Bradford Titchener(1867-1927)
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3. Definition of psychology
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Animal psychology and child psychology (not
psychology)
4. Precise task of trained observer is
unclear/unknown
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a. unreliability within and between subjects
b. special vocabulary
Structuralism---Edward Bradford Titchener(1867-1927)
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5. Introspection is retrospection
 Artificial
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6. Could not explore the unconscious mind
Structuralism---Edward Bradford Titchener (1867-1927)
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IV. Contributions of Structuralism
1. Subject matter clearly defined
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2. Research methods: good science
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Observation, experimentation, or measurement
The most appropriate method for studying
conscious experience was self-observation
Structuralism---Edward Bradford Titchener (1867-1927)
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3. Introspection method is still used in many areas
of psychology
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4. Impact on cognitive psychology
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Clinical reports from patients on personality tests are
introspective in nature
Introspective reports involving cognitive processes such
as reasoning
5. Strong base against which others could rebel
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Chapter 5 Structuralism