Experimental Psychology and its contributions

Experimental Psychology and its contributions

Experimental psychology is a branch of psychology that employs the scientific method to conduct research about mental (cognitive) and behavioral processes, conducting studies on individuals and populations, applies the knowledge obtained to implement intervention strategies and programs; trying to answer and solve questions about behavior.

In the search for "self," the human being has been a reflective entity; since ancient times, psychological phenomena and mental processes have been of interest to him, so he has looked for ways to treat people who had “out of the ordinary” behavior within their socio-cultural context, including for recruitment and social control

Why do some people lack emotional regulation? Why are some violent and do not seem to generate guilt for violating the rights of others? Why could some subjects not learn basic life skills like most members of their community? Why don't people respond equally to the same situations? All these questions and many others have been studied in psychology for many years.


  • 1 Historical background of experimental psychology
  • 2 Protection of animals and rights of study subjects in experimental psychology
  • 3 Blossoming of experimental psychology

Historical background of experimental psychology

In ancient times, neurological problems and psychopathologies were often attributed magical explanations affecting the individual more, since there were not many rights regulated by law for them ... Many were chained, tortured and condemned to misery.

Although it is true that these practices continue in some parts of the world, during the Enlightenment, experimental psychology flourished, providing each patient who received cruel treatments in health institutions: the hope of a dignified and humane treatment, remember that one of the important slogans of the Enlightenment was: "reason will set you free." And so it happened, because psychology in its experimental branch helped break the chains of people with neurological conditions, sometimes even congenital, who were very punished or even deprived of their lives in certain cultures; as well as other individuals with mental disorders, providing an overview that provides greater understanding regarding human behavior

In 1792, Phillipe Pinel, director of the Bisêtre Hospital in Paris, obtained the authorization of the “revolutionary commune to remove the chains of some mentally ill, convinced that, treated with kindness, the sick were easier to handle than when they were treated as criminals or dangerous beasts" (Muñiz De la Fuente, Ramón, 1981), this allowed important reforms in the laws, which soon became extensive in other health institutions in the world.

Protection of animals and rights of study subjects in experimental psychology

“Experimental psychology should ideally respect the immanent rights of the cohabitants of this blue planet, provide greater understanding and awareness about how we can coexist in harmony, as well as encourage and support with scientific support the creation or modification in the regulation of laws to protect the subjects of study, whether people or animals, especially help protect to endangered species ”.

On July 12, 2012, at the University of Cambridge, England and in the presence of the illustrious and remembered Stephen Hawking, it was signed: The Cambridge Declaration of ConscienceI state that, thanks to a renowned group of cognitive and computational neuroscientists, it is based on the neurosciences that: "The privileged state of self-consciousness" is not exclusive to the human being, providing a list of some animals.

Thanks to this manifesto, some animals have been protected in their territories, knowing that some are aware, as the experts on the subject subscribed:

"We decided to reach a consensus and make a statement to the public that it is not scientific. It is obvious to everyone in this room that animals are aware, but it is not obvious to the rest of the world. It is not obvious to the rest of the western world. not even the Far East. It's not obvious to society. " (Philip Low, 2012).

Throughout history, we can observe that since ancient times, attempts have been made to modify the behavior of certain individuals for various reasons. Experimental psychology also has a dark part, which can be made manifest in the present when, when trying to do research, human and animal rights are violated, for example.

It also happens when experiments and treatments are allowed that do not help the mentally ill to be entities self-sufficient and functional as long as your mental illness allows them, or that doesn't help your social reintegration, depending on the degree of severity of each case. Affirmations about the cause and treatment of the behavior should be made based on scientific and solid research (Morrison, 2000), so we can reduce the detriment in the patient's quality of life by applying inappropriate orthodox treatments.

Blossoming of experimental psychology

In the Enlightenment period, medicine and psychotherapy were emancipated from religion and by taking sustenance in Medicine and Physiology, psychology “becomes a not only theoretical but experimental discipline and a science of experience, which study processes, describe them and intend to explain them; in turn, he studies how applied psychology uses this knowledge in social and economic life ”. (Paulis, Richard).

At Harvard University, United States, William James created a psychology laboratory in 1875. However, it is not until 1879 when the birth of experimental psychology is formally registered, based in Leipzig, Germany, and as the founder of it, Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt is recognized for developing the first experimental psychology laboratory, following the scientific method he studied the “observable and quantifiable experience”.

Formally the birth of experimental psychology is framed in the nineteenth century with Wundt, who focused his research mainly on cognitive processes such as sensation and perception. Due to his approaches, he is placed in the structuralist approach; he framed himself more as a volunteer, because he considered the "Volitional activities", a model on which the rest of psychological phenomena should be built.

There was great progress also in psychiatry, when it was in its taxonomic and descriptive stage. The classifications of the psychic disorders of Paul J. Möbius, which influenced the contributions of Emil Kraepelin (1856-1926), were almost universally accepted.

Kraepelin represents an emblematic figure for neurosciences because based on clinical observation, he analyzed thousands of medical records looking for the cause of many psychic conditions and made a compendium with a classification of mental illnesses (1883), being the basis of most of those we use today.

The scientific methodology, which follows experimental psychology, implies objectivity in its process, before accepting assumptions as adequate and valid explanations, test or refute hypotheses about the nature of psychological phenomena, avoiding information bias. In turn, representativeness in the research helps to reflect characteristics of the population and individuals, without the band and labels that appear with biases, thus helping eradicate prejudices and social stigmas.

In Völkerpsychologie (Peoples Psychology, 1900-1920), Wundt tries to understand the collective behaviors, conducts psycho-ethnographic studies, observes with methodology how diversity is transformed into a community and of the latter, he was also interested in their cultural products as: myths, beliefs, language, as well as customs and customs, among others.


Thanks to experimental psychology, you can find answers to many questions you have asked about the behavior of others and even yourself, as well as your interpersonal relationships. You can search the results of innovative research in experimental psychology in journal articles or popular science sites, sometimes, even before a book comes out. The American Psychological Association (APA) and other associations of researchers from around the world, constantly publish the results of interesting studies they carry out. In this digital age, information abounds, however, not everything is useful or recommended. So it is important that you take care of the places where you procure it.

An important part of our health is the search for information about it., but if your thing is not to read all the detailed and long process that the scientific method implies, to find answers to many of your questions about your emotions, feelings and behaviors, you can search for places where Psychology articles are published, in those that endorsed health professionals take as a reference in turn: from research in recent neurosciences from valid sources, through the classical bibliography to the newest.

Voltaire (1694-1778) and Montesquieu (1689-1755), “they believed that reason allowed men to free themselves from ignorance and superstition" They agreed to affirm the innate goodness of man, the possibility of progress and achievement, in this life and happiness for the majority ”, we hope and work so that the contributions of experimental psychology grant us a greater awareness, which allows us to live more in harmony, tolerance and respect with our planet, including those who cohabit on it.

Electronics references


Bibliographic references

De la Fuente Muñiz, Ramón (1981). Medical Psychology Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Económica, S.A. from C.V.

Bonin, Werner., F. (1991). Dictionary of the great psychologists. From the sciences of the spirit to the sciences of behavior. (Die groBen Psylogen. Von der Seelenkunde zur Verhaltenswissenschaft; Forscher, Therapeuten und Ärzte, original title). Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Económica, S.A. from C.V.

Morris, Charles, G. (2001). Introduction to Psychology. Mexico: Pearson Education.

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