Edward B. Titchener

Born in Chichester, England (with a well known family name and no money), Edward B. Titchener attended college (Malvern College and then Oxford) on scholarships. He studied in Wundt’s lab, then moved to Cornell where he stayed for the rest of his life.

Titchener translated Wundt’s work into English, and in the process stripped it of all but its elementalism. Titchener reinterpreted Wundt as being interested only in the structure of the mind, and in how elements are combined together. Under Titchener, structuralism became a major school of thought in psychology.

Titchener proposed that there are 3 elements of consciousness: sensations, images and affections. He rejected Wundt’s tridimensional theory of emotion in favor of a single dimension of pleasure-unpleasure.

For Titchener, the basic elements of experience included quality (its distinguishing characteristics), intensity (amount), and duration (length of sensation). In addition, he held that a sensation could be judged on its clearness. Titchener proposed that there are 3 general stages of attention: involuntary (e.g., sudden noise), secondary (direct, voluntary attention to an object), and derived (i.e., a habit is formed by the repetition of a stimulus).


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