chapter  10
23 Pages

Psychophysics and the Formal Founding of Psychology

ByWilliam Douglas Woody, Wayne Viney

This chapter reviews selected scientific projects in physiology that led to the founding of the new discipline of psychology. It examines the formal founding of psychology and the first systematic approach to the discipline. Early psychophysics challenged naive realism because it demonstrated measurable stimulus values below or above the threshold of awareness, and psychophysics, as a field, figured prominently in early psychology, even in the earliest plans for the first international congress. In 1860, Gustav Theodor Fechner published his Elements of Psychophysics, a book widely recognized as the first major publication to demonstrate that experimental methods could fruitfully be applied to psychological phenomena and destined to become a classic in psychology. Fechner's investigation of thresholds produced important methodological contributions, becoming an integral part of experimental psychology. Psychology owes an immense intellectual debt to Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz, one of the most celebrated scientists and inventors of the nineteenth century.