Wilhelm Wundt

Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt is considered the father of psychology because he was the founder of the first laboratory label “psychology lab” (Clandrum, 2012). Wundt was born on August 16th, 1832 in Germany and he died in 1920 (Kim, 2008).
Wundt studied medicine, but decided to earn his doctoral degree in physiology (Kim, 2008). Wundt acquired much experience working with Helmholtz when he was young. After gaining so much experience with Helmholtz, Wundt replaced him in his position at a university. With Wundt’s founding laboratory, the field of psychology was marked as its formal beginning (Kim, 2008).
Wundt’s interest in psychology was developed after working with Helmholtz, who was a a physicist, physiologists, and psychologist (Kim, 2008). Psychology as a field was not established at that time, so Wundt studied it in philosophical terms (Clandrum, 2012). Some time later, Wundt published his book called “The Principles of physiological Psychology” in which he made connections between the fields of psychology and physiology. Wundt also founded the first journal of psychology called “Philosophical Studies”.


Wundt’s background was a reflection of his interests in physiology because he was very interested in immediate experience which is based on reflection; he called this technique experimental introspection. When Wundt studied experimental introspection, he was not interested in the interpretation of his participants, but on the raw data. For instance, When Wundt was studying “stomachache”, he did not want his participants to interpret their stomachache as say the word “stomachache”, he was interested in the description of the feeling or the raw data of what it feels like to have a stomachache (Clandrum, 2012). Wundt himself extensively trained his participants in this technique; therefore, he was regarded as a contributor of the control condition and labeling him as an experimental scientist (Clandrum, 2012).
Many behaviorists, after seeing Wundt’s contribution and this experimental technique, began to follow him (McLeod, 2008).
Wundt’s importance to the field of cognitive psychology relies in his interest on the basis of this field. He studied the areas of thoughts, images,learning, and feelings, thus making him the father of cognitive psychology for encouraging research in this area among his fellow scientists (McLeod, 2008).
Wundt had his own philosophical approach called anti-metaphysic, defined as inside human sense perception (Clandrum, 2012). With this approach he stated that it was important to study the data that could be observed, in other words, only to study observable data and not what could be inferred.
Another approach he used was his mental chronometry approach, defined as: the complicated reaction times are the sum of the times of the individual acts (Clandrum, 2012). With this, it can be inferred that he was a very mechanical and experimental man. This mental chronometry approach had three stages:
apprehension- the stage when we receive input or we perceive the stimuli; apperception- the stage when we focus our attention in the stimuli we are receiving; and voluntarism, which is when we decide to organize this stimuli (Clandrum, 2012).


Wundt empiricism was excluded from philosophy departments due to its controversial conception of psychology. He was especially controversial in Germany because there was debate about the meaning of consciousness.
Another criticism was the lack of reliability of the methods used by him such as introversion. This method was labeled as too subjective leading to possible inaccuracies of the results. Yet another criticism was that Wundt was very much concerned with internal behavior for which other scientists argue it could not be served directly and therefore could not be accurately measured.

-Andrea Russo (creator)