Graziano and Raulin (8th ed)Graziano & Raulin
Research Methods (8th edition)

Edward Bradford Titchener (1867-1927) was an English-born, American psychologist, who founded American structuralism. He studied philosophy and physiology at Oxford and spent two years studying with Wundt in Leipzig before accepting a position at Cornell University. At Cornell, he introduced Wundt’s study of consciousness and stimulated the development of psychology in the United States. His influential psychological laboratory attracted many top students. He not only translated Wundt’s books into English, but also made his own contributions in research and writing.

Titchener focused on the psychology of conscious experience, much as had his former mentor, Wundt, had done. However, whereas Wundt was interested in studying the elements of consciousness in order to understand the higher organization of consciousness, Titchener saw the task of psychology as studying the mental elements in order to determine the very structure of consciousness. He wanted to identify the basic components of consciousness, and to determine how those components are connected physiologically.

Titchener remained at Cornell for 35 years, and mentored some 50 doctoral students. He influenced psychology dramatically through his teaching and his prolific research contributions.

Thus, the early psychology in the United States, dominated by Titchener into the 1920s, was a laboratory-based experimental study of the elements of consciousness. It was very much in the “pure science” tradition of the Germans, with no interest in the practical application of laboratory findings to everyday life. Titchener’s psychology was a purely scientific study, and he held no value in the newer thinking of that time that psychology might have some practical implications. Titchener named his variation of Wundt’s  psychology, structuralism, and it dominated American psychology for two decades before other approaches, primarily functionalism, challenged and displaced it. 

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