Dr. Wilhelm Max Wundt

  • Privatdozent in the Physiological (1857-1864)
  • Professor of Inductive Philosophy at Zurich University (1874)
  • Professor of Inductive Philosophy at Leipzig University (1875-1917)
  • Established the world’s first experimental laboratory in psychology
  • Referred as the “Father of Experimental Psychology” and “Founder of Modern Psychology”

Wundt established the first laboratory in the world dedicated to experimental psychology. This laboratory became a focus for those with a serious interest in psychology, first for German philosophers and psychology students, then for American and British students as well. All subsequent psychological laboratories were closely modeled in their early years on the Wundt model.

Wundt’s revolutionary approach to psychological experimentation moved psychological study from the domain of philosophy and the natural sciences and began to utilize physiological experimental techniques in the laboratory. To Wundt, the essence of all total adjustments of the organism was a psychophysical process, an organic response mediated by both the physiological and the psychological.  He pioneered the concept of stating mental events in relation to objectively knowable and measurable stimuli and reactions. Wundt perceived psychology as part of an elaborate philosophy where mind is seen as an activity, not a substance. The basic mental activity was designated by Wundt as “apperception.”

In Wundt’s 1893 edition of Physiological Psychology, he published the “tridimensional theory of feeling”: feelings were classified as pleasant or unpleasant, tense or relaxed, excited or depressed. A given feeling might be at the same time a combination of one of each of the categories.

Wundt’s greatest contribution was to show that psychology could be a valid experimental science. His influence in promoting psychology as a science was enormous. Despite poor eyesight, Wundt published 53,000 pages, enough to stock a complete library. His major publications include:

  • Lectures on Human and Animal Psychology, 1896
  • Principles of Physiological Psychology, 1904
  • Philosophische Studien, first journal of psychology, 1871
  • Volkerpsychologie (Social Psychology), 1911-1920