chapter  3
14 Pages

Experimental approaches to the study of the archetype

ByMilena Sotirova-Kohli

The theory of the archetypes and the hypothesis of the collective unconscious are two of the central characteristics of Analytical Psychology. Empirical studies which test these hypotheses are rare. Rosen, Smith, and Gonzalez (1991) proposed a cognitive psychological experimental paradigm to investigate the nature of archetypes and the collective unconscious as collective unconscious (archetypal) memory. This chapter gives an overview of experimental studies and a report of the results of a cross-cultural replication of the experimental paradigm of Rosen et al. conducted in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. In short, this experiment replicated the results of Rosen et al. (1991) and demonstrated that archetypal symbols are significantly associated to their meanings. The fact that these results were observed in two different cultures and two different languages makes it less likely that they are brought forth by a cultural or linguistic context. The implications and methodological constraints of this kind of research for the archetype concept are discussed.