Essay on Experimental Psychology

The field of experimental psychology is based on the scientific method of psychology. It concerns the study of behaviors that can be directly observed. Psychologists who practice in this field use a number of different methods, e.g. observations of the systematic variety (descriptive), observance of correlations, observing relationships of the variable variety, (studies concerning ex-post-facto, and so on.) and/or methods that involve pure experiment.

If you examine any example essays on experimental psychology, you will see that some psychologists dating back to the 18th century, including some in Germany, started studying the psychophysical relationships between physical stimulants and the sensations the subject(s) experienced. These experiments enabled psychology to be measured and were responsible for bringing about the law governing the relationship between an actual change and a perceived change as a result of stimulus – the Weber-Fechner law.

One person who pioneered experimental psychology was Wilhelm Wundt who lived from 1832 to 1920. Wundt endeavored to show the relationship between organic substrates and psychic phenomena, especially in the human brain and human nervous system.  In his 1874 Grundzüge der physiologischen Psychology or the Elements of Biological Psychology, he provided an in-depth description of the structure, functioning, and nature of the human nervous system.

Furthermore, in 1879, Wundt founded the world’s first laboratory for experimental psychology in Leipzig, Germany. It was here that a number of North American and European experimental psychology methods were formulated.

The actual term itself “experimental psychology” was born in Rennes, France in 1896 when Benjamin Bourdon – a psychologist and philosopher – was endeavoring to create an early-day laboratory for “Psychology and Experimental Linguistics.” Theodule Ribot was one of the greatest influences in Bourdon’s life with the latter studying psychology, finishing in October 1886 with the highest diploma available and a 500-francs scholarship. He then went on to study at Wilhelm Wundt’s experimental psychology laboratory in Leipzig, Germany. In 1891, when lecturing at the University of Rennes, he delivered his first experimental psychology course, in which he gave rise to the notion that psychology and philosophy were divorced subjects.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that in 1894 Alfred Binet founded Psychological Years, the first journal of its type focused exclusively on scientific psychology.

By means of experiments psychology can, to a lesser extent than biology, take account of all related factors. In fact, since human beings first began to be studied, analysis is quite complex and takes account of biological, cultural, environmental, social, and other factors.  

In comparison to the laws that determine and underlie the world of the inorganic, in both the fields of chemistry and physics, and the world of the living, the nature of the biological ones by which human beings are guided are more probabilistic. Therefore, their study is harder.

Put another way, it is not possible to recreate identical psychological experiments, both because of the way individuals change with time and because of the way individuals differ from one to another.  

By looking at a few of the free sample essays available on this topic, you will see that experimental psychology uses humans and animals for experimentation purposes in a similar manner to the bio-medical sciences. Obviously, a strong code of ethics must protect these experiments, setting out the researchers’ responsibilities in relation to the subjects or objects they are studying.