Born: 1867, Chichester, England Died: 1927, Ithaca, New York, USA Nat: British Ints: Anthropology, experimental, history, numismatics, philosophical and theoretical Educ: AB University of Oxford, 1890; PhD University of Leipzig, 1892 Appts & awards: Head, Psychology Department, Cornell University, 1892-7; Editor, Studies from the Department of Psychology of Cornell University, 1894-1927; American Editor, Mind, 1894-c.1917; Cooperating Editor, American Journal of Psychology, 1895-1920; Contributing Editor, Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia (Psychology), 1909, 1911; Editor, American Journal of Psychology, 1921-5
Edward Bradford Titchener, described as the dean of experimental psychology in America during his lifetime, was influential in bringing the ‘new psychology’, the experimental psychology of Wilhelm Wundt and others, to the United States, thus effecting the transition from mental philosophy to psychology as we know it today. His most important contribution is undoubtedly in establishing the scientific status of psychology. To this end, he published his laboratory manuals, the four-volume Experimental Psychology (1901-5), long used and much imitated; he developed experimental methods and designed apparatus; and he insisted on the rigorous training of experimental psychologists. His new PhDs were always in demand. Titchener never abandoned the introspective, structuralist position. No longer important in psychology today, this owes its demise to the systematic, careful and clear manner in which Titchener explored it, revealing its limitations. Freeing psychology from structuralism must be counted as one of his important contributions.
All his life, Titchener was the focus of controversy. In this role he was important in the major new developments of his time. Functionalism arose as a reaction to the structural emphasis of Titchener (and Wundt); to the concern with the contents, not the functions, of consciousness; and to the exclusion of adaptation, of individual differences, developmental and animal psychology, and applied psychology. Behaviourism came as a protest against Titchener's exclusive concern with consciousness. Gestalt psychology arose in part as a reaction to the atomism of Titchener's counterparts in Germany. As a stimulus for the crystallization of new points of view in psychology, Titchener occupied a unique position. His influence was world-wide, his books being translated into German, French, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Polish.
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