Classics in the History of Psychology

An internet resource developed by
Christopher D. Green
York University, Toronto, Ontario

ISSN 1492-3713

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The American Psychological Association

[Anonymous] (1896)[*]
First published in American Journal of Psychology, 7, 448-449.

Posted October 2000

In the first number of the present volume of the JOURNAL, attention was called to the large proportion of papers, in the programme of the 1894 meeting of the American Psychological Association at Princeton, which dealt with feeling and emotion. The programme of the fourth meeting, held at Philadelphia last December, shows a still greater lack of experimental items. Of the fourteen communications (p. 307) only three were taken from the field of experimental psychology, in the strict sense of the term. One of the others was anthropometrical; four pathological, and one gave the results of a research in comparative psychology. The rest dealt with problems of what is ordinarily called "general" psychology, i.e., with questions of system.

The retirement of the experimentalists, -- emphasized further by the proposal to devote a certain amount of the time of each meeting to philosophical enquiries, -- cannot but he regretted. At the same time, it is probably inevitable. The understanding of an experimental investigation, and the appraising of its results, demand careful and repeated reading; it is hardly possible to follow intelligently, or to offer intelligent criticism, when method and results are thrown into lecture form and the lecture reduced to a compass of twenty minutes. Unless the meetings are allowed to take the form of a conversazione, the apparatus employed shown in their working, and the results made to speak for themselves in charts and diagrams arranged near the apparatus, it would seem thee the drift of the Association must continue In the non-experimental direction. It is not that the systematic psychologists are [p. 449] forcing their way unduly to the front, but rather that the plan and restrictions of the meetings are of a kind to favor them, and to debar their experimentally inclined colleagues from playing any large part in the session.


[*] No author is explicitly named. This short editorial appeared in the "Notes and News" section of the journal, which was customarily, though not exclusively, written by Editor G. Stanley Hall himself. Michael Sokal (1992, p. 119), however, has argued that the piece "was almost surely written by [E. B.] Titchener" ("Origins and Early Years of the American Psychological Association, 1890-1906," American Psychologist, 47, 111-122).