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A little History. Psychology 3717. History is almost the coolest discipline around. Well besides psychology…. 19 th century Wilhelm Wundt Didn’t really study memory But he started experimental psychology Sensation / perception Elemental processes. Ebbinghaus.

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A little history

A little History

Psychology 3717

History is almost the coolest discipline around
History is almost the coolest discipline around

  • Well besides psychology….

  • 19th century

  • Wilhelm Wundt

  • Didn’t really study memory

  • But he started experimental psychology

  • Sensation / perception

  • Elemental processes


  • Well, these were all great ideas, but had not been tested.

  • Cue Hermann Ebbinghaus

  • Strangely, both the behaviourists and the cognitive types claim him as their own

  • Nonsense syllables


  • Studied himself

  • Found savings

  • Repetition was key

  • Classic forgetting curve

  • Contiguity

  • Reversal was detrimental, so it was not just contiguity but also contingency

More on ebby
More on ebby

  • Also found interference

  • Found the magic 7

  • Figured out that chunking would happen

  • Massed vs. distributed practice

  • Not bad for a career eh!

  • But some dispute his importance

  • They are idiots….

William james
William James

  • Stream of consciousness

  • Thought is personal

  • Thought is changing

  • Thought is continuous

  • Thought deals with objects independent of itself

  • It is interested in some things and not others

Bill was smart
Bill was smart

  • Talked about primary and secondary memory

  • Talked about memory without awareness

  • Got lots of stuff wrong but again, not bad eh

Alfred binet
Alfred Binet

  • Developed the first real intelligence test

  • Was interested in application in a classroom context so he used more naturalistic stimuli

  • Free recall

  • Found serial position effect

  • Looked at errors, early, acoustic, later, semantic

Another smarty pants
Another smarty pants

  • Found the importance effect with prose memory

  • Found that phrases remembered better than single words

  • First to find the importance of gist

  • See again, not so bad eh

Early 20 th century
Early 20th century

  • The eclipse of cognition (at least in North America)

  • Introspection if fine done Wundt’s way

  • Trained observers

  • Very simple events

  • People working with Titchener too it too far

  • You can’t prove or disprove data from my introspections, you are not me


  • Watson

  • Interested only in the observable

  • Consciousness cannot be observed

  • Then, neither can memory

  • S-R

  • Basically became all of what psychology was for a long time, well into the 1950s

Some resisted
Some resisted

  • The Gestalt psychologists

  • Didn’t like the reductionism of the behaviourists

  • Bartlett was a Brit that fought the good fight

  • Talked about construction

Cognitive revolution
Cognitive Revolution

  • Psychology started started to outgrow behaviourism

  • Personality (style)

  • Motivation (dissonance)

  • Linguistics

  • Information theory

The revolutionaries become the establishment
The revolutionaries become the establishment

  • Atkinson Shiffrin model

  • Brenda Milner and HM

  • So there was a model and there was physiological evidence too, pretty much all sewn up


  • By the 1970s memory was studied all over the world

  • Tulving

  • Craik

  • Lockhart

  • Slamecka

  • MacLeod

  • Moscovitz

  • Schacter

  • Jacoby

  • Roediger

  • Squire

  • Loftus