The first psychology laboratory

History Psychology

1902 - The First Psychology Lab in Florida

This lab was very well equipped for an institution of this size, and it joined the other laboratories located on the second floor of the College Hall building. The 1902 Catalogue asserts that the lab established here by H. Elmer Bierly was also the first psychological laboratory established in the State of Florida. Undoubtedly, this initiative was supported by President Murphree.

Where did we stand in the establishment of psychology laboratories in the national perspective? The 1st psychology lab in the U.S.A. was established in 1883 at Johns Hopkins University by G. Stanley Hall. By 1893, it is said that there were 20 psychology laboratories in American colleges and Universities (twice as many as in Europe), and by 1904 that number had increased to 49. Although we have not found our institution listed in rosters of early psychology labs in the U.S.A., it is clear that ours was established about 20 years after the first American lab.

From the 1902-03 Catalogue of the 46th Annual Session of the
Florida State College
The Psychological Laboratory

There has been established a psychological laboratory, the first one in Florida, which, with its apparatus and accessories, affords almost every opportunity for studying the different senses, memory, illusions, time relations, and the nervous system. The following is a partial list of the apparatus: On hearing: model of the ear, microscopic slides of the ear, sonometer, resonance boxes, set of tuning forks, Quincke tubes, Galton whistle, tone tester, siren, metronome, sound pendulum, Appunn's reed. For sight: model of the eye, histological slides of the eye, opthalmoscope, test cards for astigmatism, test for acuity of vision, binocular and monocular apparatus, photometer, pseudoptics, color disks, spectrum chart, perimeter, instruments for testing color blindness, stereoscope, blind-spot cards, prisms, projection lantern, zoetrope. On haptics and organic sensations: pressure balance, algesimeter, pressure pencils, temperature tubes, thermometers, aesthesiometers, tilt-board. On taste and smell: histological slides of the tongue and nose, oliactometer, solutions for tasting fruit flavors, oils, etc. On affective processes: weight, ergograph, sphymograph, dynamograph, hand dynamometer, automatograph, photographs illustrating expression of emotion, chronometer, kymograph, tambours, timemarkers. On action: chromoscopes, lip-key, rheocords. On general supplies: galvanometer, induction coils, multiple key, reaction key, voltmeter, ammeter, batteries, switches, bells, glassware, carpenter's tools, gas, water, acids, stop-watch, models of the brain, five hundred microscopic slides of the brain, colored wall diagrams of brain and sense organs, psychological portraits, psychological books, journals, etc.

The photos and captions below are from the 1903-04 Florida State College Catalogue


Testing Lung Capacity

Physiological and Psychological Laboratory


Top: Testing Hearing
Bottom: Study of fatigue

Top: Test of Sight
Bottom: Child Study Apparatus


Studying the Spectrum

Experimenting with X-ray

Theory of Sound


Establishment of the First Psychology Laboratory – Every mind and day

Wilhelm Wundt and his assistants (University of Leipzig, n. d.).

The Event:

In 1879, Wilhelm Wundt (1832 – 1920) established the first laboratory dedicated to psychology research, at the University of Leipzig in Germany. This event marked the official birth of psychology as an independent field of study, transitioning psychology from philosophy to science and led to the launch of a new discipline that would become international in scope (Woody & Viney, 2017).

Background to the Event:

Several factors contributed to this event.

By the end of the 19th Century, the experiment became the method of discerning truth, and the laboratory, the place where truth, through experimentation was discovered. Physiologists such as Flourens and Johannes Muller supported the argument for experimental, laboratory-based investigation. This opened a line of research in physiology, leading directly to Herman von Helmholtz and Wilhelm Wundt and helping make a physiologically based psychology possible (Pickren & Rutherford, 2010).

Wundt was a product of the open German intellectual tradition. For Germans, science was not determined by its subject matter, but rather a way of looking at things, or Wissenchaft. It was thought that any topic could be approached in a scientific manner (Pickren & Rutherford, 2010).

Wundt acknowledged the earlier contributions from disciplines such as physics, physiology and philosophy. Having obtained a degree in medicine, Wundt followed up his interest in research by doing post-doctoral work under Johannes Muller and Emil Du Bois-Reymond and also working as Helmholtz’s assistant in his physiological laboratory. Wundt’s research interests shifted from physiology to psychology and he secured an appointment at the University of Leipzig due to his growing reputation in psychology (Woody & Viney, 2017).

Wundt proposed a new field, experimental psychology, aimed at bringing together physiology and psychology by combining the methods of experimental physiology with psychological introspection to study the processes of sensation and voluntary movement (Pickren & Rutherford, 2010). Wundt’s method of study, also used in his laboratory, came to be known as experimental introspection, distinguished through the introduction of the laboratory apparatus, standardising presentations of stimuli for subjects to respond to.

Wundt stated that experimental introspection was less useful for complex processes such as thought and language. He saw the limitations of experimentation and placed a large and important segment of psychology in human or cultural science rather than natural science (Pickren & Rutherford, 2010).

The event’s contribution to Psychology:

In Wundt’s laboratory, psychology was first practiced as the organised and self-conscious activity of a community of investigators, collaborating in pursuit of scientific explanations of mind. This contrasted with the solitary investigations of Wundt’s predecessors and contemporaries including Helmholtz, Fechner and Hermann Ebbinghaus (Benjamin, 2000).

The fame of Wundt’s laboratory spread in the United States, attracting many American students, particularly G. Stanley Hall. Hall spent some time with Wundt but worked principally in the physiological laboratory of Carl Ludwig. In 1883, Hall founded what is recognised as the first psychology laboratory in America at Johns Hopkins University.

Today, the psychology laboratory still exists in most academic and non-academic settings, although, the computer has replaced the diverse brass instruments and specimen jars originally used. Psychology faculty and students continue to be involved in laboratory training, and laboratory investigators remain plentiful in psychology (Benjamin, 2000).




Benjamin, L. T. (2000). The psychology laboratory at the turn of the 20th century. American Psychologist, 53, 318-321.

Pickren, W. & Rutherford, A. (2010). A History of Modern Psychology in Context: Incorporating Social, Political, and Economic Factors into the Story. New Jersey, USA: John Wiley & Sons.

University of Leipzig, Department of Psychology. (n.d.). History of Psychology in Leipzig, Germany. Retrieved from

Woody, W. D. & Viney, W. (2017). A History of Psychology: The Emergence of Science and Applications. (6th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.



Like this:

Like Loading...


Father of experimental psychology - Nauka - Kommersant

7K 1 minute. ...

Wilhelm Wundt is known as the founder of experimental psychology as a science, and also as one of the pioneers of cognitive and social psychology (the psychology of peoples). They opened the first psychological laboratory. Being an encyclopedically educated person, Wundt had the broadest erudition and scope of scientific interests. In psychology, however, his research approach was extremely rigorous: in his vision, the human psyche is a mechanism consisting of individual parts that can be disassembled and whose components can be considered separately.

Photo: Wikipedia

The scientific community of Wundt's time was very skeptical about the very possibility of an experimental approach in psychology. Indeed, how can one give a deep psychological interpretation of an external reaction to an external stimulus, and what can this reaction generally say about the structure of the human psyche? From the point of view of the experimental science of that time, the response to a stimulus is something one way or another observable, physiological (muscle contraction, nerve excitation), but not internal, subjective “feelings” of the subject (which Wundt considered the most important indicator, the point of contact between the physical and mental).

Wundt managed to combine in his method the empirical solidity of a physiological experiment with a purely psychological set of experimental procedures. The key to this was Wundt's famous method of "introspection" or self-knowledge.

In the scientific community, this method had many opponents, because it seemed to imply that the student and the student are the same person, and the human consciousness, being imperfect, cannot equally successfully cope with two tasks at the same time: to experience a sensation and interpret it . Wundt easily resolved this paradox: during introspection, one should first of all consider unexpected, unintentional mental reactions, and then describe them, without trying to give a psychophysical explanation and justify such a reaction physiologically. In Wundt's method, the conditions obligatory for any experiment were observed: there was a controlled variable (external factors, stimulus), and an uncontrolled, investigated factor - a mental reaction, displayed by three variables: quality, intensity and "tone of sensation" (Gefuehlston).

Peru Wundt owns countless articles on the physiology of humans and animals, hypnosis, history, politics, philosophy, linguistics and much more. Despite the breadth of his interests, Wundt did not consider himself a "multi-disciplinary" researcher; on the contrary, his main aspiration was the creation of a comprehensive scientific and philosophical system.

Gennady Lichinsky

Picture of the day

Whole tape

10. The first experimental psychology laboratories in Russia. Psychodiagnostics

10. The first experimental psychology laboratories in Russia. Psychodiagnostics


Luchinin Alexey Sergeevich


10. The first experimental psychology laboratories in Russia

The first in Russia experimental psychological laboratory was opened in 1885 at the Clinic of Nervous and Mental Diseases of Kharkov University; Experimental psychology laboratories were set up in St. Petersburg and Dorpat. At 1895, on the initiative of the largest Russian psychiatrist S. S. Korsakov , a psychological laboratory was created at the psychiatric clinic of Moscow University. Korsakov's closest assistant, A. A. Tokarsky, became in charge of it. The Psychological Laboratory at Novorossiysk University (in Odessa) was established at the Faculty of History and Philology by Professor of Philosophy N. N. Lange.

In the second half of the XIX century. 9 was introduced into domestic psychology0036 experiment. The first domestic work on psychological diagnostics was carried out in the first decades of the 20th century.

One of the first significant pre-revolutionary domestic works on psychological testing was carried out by GI Rossolimo in 1909 at Moscow University. He created a methodology for an individual psychological profile, which boiled down to the definition of 11 mental processes, which were evaluated on a ten-point system. A. F. Lazursky created a new direction in differential psychology - scientific characterology. He stood for the creation of a scientific theory of individual differences. He considered the main goal of differential psychology to be "the construction of a person from his inclinations", as well as the development of the most complete natural classification of characters.

He advocates a natural experiment in which the intentional intervention of the researcher in human life is combined with the natural and relatively simple setting of experience.

Important in Lazursky's theory was the proposition about the closest connection of character traits with nervous processes. This was an explanation of personality properties by the neurodynamics of cortical processes. The scientific characterology of Lazursky was built as an experimental science based on the study of the neurodynamics of cortical processes. At first, not attaching any importance to quantitative methods for assessing mental processes, using only qualitative methods, he later felt the insufficiency of the latter and tried to use graphic diagrams to determine the child's abilities. But the work in this direction was not completed by him, the death of the researcher interfered (1917).

This text is an introductory fragment.

9. Materialistic basis in Russian experimental psychology. Proceedings of I. M. Sechenov and I. P. Pavlov. "Reflexology" V. M. Bekhterev

9. Materialistic basis in Russian experimental psychology. Proceedings of I. M. Sechenov and I. P. Pavlov. "Reflexology" by V. M. Bekhterev A feature of the development of psychology in the last quarter of the XIX century. was the introduction of experimental research methods into it. Usually at

Origins of experimental psychology

Origins of experimental psychology For the first time, experimental methods for studying thinking, which, in fact, is the subject of research in psychology, were used by four scientists: Hermann von Helmholtz, Ernst Weber, Gustav Theodor Fechner and Wilhelm Wundt. All of them are

Classification of Set Phenomena in Experimental Psychology by James Gibson

"A Classification of Set Phenomena in Experimental Psychology" by James Gibson In psychology, the concept of "probabilistic forecasting" appeared relatively recently. It is both young and old. He is a little over ten years old, if you focus on the first

1.2. Study of the psychology of peoples in Germany and Russia

1.2. Studying the psychology of peoples in Germany and Russia The development of a number of sciences, primarily ethnography, psychology and linguistics, led in the middle of the 19th century to the emergence of ethnopsychology as an independent science. It is generally accepted that this happened in Germany, in which on that

3.1. First Empirical Research in General Psychology

3.1. First empirical research in general psychology The first serious comparative cultural studies in psychology, more precisely in general psychology, which by this time had received significant development, date back to the very end of the 19th century. Founder of


44 DEVELOPMENT OF EXPERIMENTAL AND APPLIED FIELDS OF PSYCHOLOGY The attitude of traditional psychology to applied psychology still remains the same as to semi-precise science.

Learn more