History of Psychological Assessment

Different historical events on the development of psychological testing have impacted the field of psychology. Each event has had its individual impact to the area of psychological testing. With these findings and impacts, we are now able to evaluate test results using normal distribution and are able to classify data using diverse scales of measurement. Key events have developed the field such as the development of the MMPI and alpha and beta testing. The development and creation of Wundt’s laboratory was one of the most significant events in psychological testing and in the field.

Wilhelm Wundt created the first laboratory created for the use of psychology. When Wundt was a student, he wanted to know and study the human mind. Many of his theories and works were created while he was a student. This was the start to one of the greatest contributions. His background was in physiology and believed that our consciousness could be broken down without sacrificing anything (Boring, 1929). Many of his theories and works were created while he was a student. Wundt wanted to separate psychology from physiology and was able to have an emphasis on measurement and control of the mind. He analyzed the mind and its workings in a way that was more structured (McLeod, 2008).

The Institute for Experimental Psychology was opened in 1879 at the University of Leipzig in Germany. Wundt dedicated this solely to the study of psychology (Cohen & Swerdlik, 2010). The laboratory was offered to philosophy and psychology German students and all others student second. Most of the laboratories that were created after Wundt have followed the same model. Wundt founded the voluntarism school of psychology and his goals were to record senses and feelings and then analyze them (McLeod, 2008).  He also focused on images, feelings, thoughts and mental functions. One of his studies was based on the reaction times and sensory processes and responsiveness. He purposely set out to create a new science and has since been called the Father of Psychology (McLeod, 2008).  According to a History of Experimental Psychology, “The mind is a creative, dynamic, and volitional force that must be understood through an analysis of its activity in which it processes” (Boring, 1929. p7).  This is what Wundt believed and it helped him create the laboratory.

The creation of the laboratory changed the field forever because it was a recognized lab that the mind was studied. For so many years, many believed that it was a folk-science or mythological. For Wundt to create this lab, meant that psychology was going in the right direction towards becoming a recognized and trustworthy science. His research included many studies in which introspection was used to see how the stimulus made someone think or feel (Blumenthal & Rieber, 1980).

The lab made such a significant impact on the development of psychological testing because many followed in Wundt’s footsteps.  Many followed how he carefully controlled conditions. Eventually, behaviorists followed the same experimental approach as they saw that Wundt was going somewhere. With Wundt creating the lab, he has contributed to the study of experimental psychology and the studies of perceptual processes (Cohen & Swerdlik, 2010).   The beginning of scientific psychology started with this lab, and accelerated the used of psychology. Some professionals and researchers believe that we are able to test results using the normal distribution and classify data using the scales of measurement because of the lab. Many are unsure if we would be using standard deviation, t-scores, z-scores, and correlations if it were not for Wundt and his laboratory (Serge & Ludovic, August, 1999).

According to the Journal, American Psychologist, “Wundt’s lab and research stimulated interest in the 21st century to study cognitive psychology” (Corwin, 1968, p. 456). Not only did the lab provide the scientific nature the field needed but caused a ripple effect within experimental and cognitive psychology. The Institute for Experimental Psychology has had a significant impact on the field in which the date it was opened is now considered the founding day of psychology. Diverse historical proceedings on the development of psychological testing have impacted the field of psychology. Each event has had its distinct impact to the area of psychological testing. With these findings and impacts, we are now able to evaluate test results using normal distribution and are able to classify data using diverse scales of measurement. The development and creation of Wundt’s laboratory was one of the most significant events in psychological testing and within psychological assessment  (Serge & Ludovic,1999).

References

Blumenthal, A., & Rieber, R. W. (1980). Wilhelm Wundt and the Making of a Scientific Psychology. New York, NY: Columbia Univesity.

Boring, E. (1929). A History of Experimental Psychology. New York, NY: The Century Company.

Cohen, R. J., & Swerdlik, M. E. (2010). Psychological Testing and Assessment: An Introduction to Tests and Measurement (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Company.

Corwin, B. A. (1968). International Psychological Decade. American Psychologist, 23(6), 456-457. doi:10.1037/h0020801

McLeod, S. A. (2008). Wilhelm Wundt- Father of Psychology. Simply Psychology, 1(1), 1-2.

Serge, N., & Ludovic, F. (August, 1999). Wundt’s laboratory at Leipzig in 1891. History of Psychology, 2(3), 194-203. doi:10.1037/1093-4510.2.3.194

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