Hugo Münsterberg was a psychologist and author of one of the first works of film theory, The Photoplay. Allan Langdale teaches in the Film Studies and Art. Those with more than a passing interest in film studies may have encountered aspects of Münsterberg’s theory of the cinema in film history texts (such as David . Hugo Münsterberg was a German-American psychologist. He was one of the pioneers in applied psychology.

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Torn between his loyalty to the United States and his homeland, he often defended Germany’s actions, attracting highly contrasting reactions.

Hugo Münsterberg – Wikipedia

The four sons remained close, and all of them became successful in their careers. A neo-Renaissance villa in DetmoldGermany, that Oscar lived in from has recently been renovated and opened as a cultural center. Both his mother and his father died before he was 20 years old. When he was 12, his mother died. This marked a major change in the young munsterbegr life, transforming him from a carefree child to a much more serious young man. Then in his father also died. He entered the University of Leipzig in gugo he heard a lecture by Wilhelm Wundt and became interested in psychology.

He received his Ph. He also passed an examination that enabled him to lecture as a privatdocent at University of Freiburg. While at Freiburg he started a psychology laboratory and began publishing papers on a number of topics including attentional processes, memory, learning, and perception.

In the same year he married a distant cousin, Selma Oppler of Strassburgon Theort 7. Inhe was promoted to munsterbegr professorship and attended the First International Congress of psychology where he met William James.

He learned to speak English rather quickly and as a result his classes became theor popular with students, in fact he was attracting students from James’s classes.

Part of the responsibilities he assumed as part of his new position at Harvard was that he became the supervisor of the psychology graduate students, in this position directed their dissertation research.

As a result, he had a great influence of many students including Mary Whiton Calkins. However, because he could not obtain an academic position that he wanted, he wrote James and requested his old position back so that he could return to Harvard which he did in He was affiliated with many organizations while at Harvard including the American Psychological Association of which he became presidentthe American Philosophical Association of which he also became presidentmunstefberg Washington Academyand the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In he was appointed exchange professor from Harvard to the University of Berlin. During that year he founded the Amerika-Institut in Berlin. He appeared as probably the most eminent supporter of German policies in U.

Fearing a patriotic response to overt support of the German Empire would undermine his own more covert approach, he condemned the forming of an alien party within the United States as “a crime against the spirit of true Americanism” and said that its results would reach far beyond the time of the war.

This was because of his pro-German attitudes and his support of German policies. He did try to talk about the inaccurate stereotypes held by both the Germans and Americans. He wrote many books and articles attempting to correct them including The Americans In American Problemshowever, he was highly critical of Americans saying that they had the “general inability to concentrate their attention on any one thing for very long.

There were also threats against his life. He remained at Harvard as a professor of experimental psychology and director of the Psychological Laboratory until his sudden death, possibly due to stress, in while on a lecture platform.

However, for James ideas cause behavior. For the James-Lange theory of emotion, “emotions are by-products of bodily reactions elicited by a situation. In he published the Basics of Psychology which he dedicated to James. He was unhappy about James’s acceptance of Freudian psychoanalysis uhgo, psychic phenomena, and religious mysticism into the area of psychology. Experimental psychology and psychic munsteberg did not mix.

In fact he was the first to apply psychological principles to the legal field, creating forensic psychology.

The main objective in most of these articles was eyewitness testimony which examined the mynsterberg of said witness testimony. He also applied psychological principles to the field of clinical psychology attempting to help those who are ill through a variety of different treatments. He is also credited with being among the first to consider jury research.


Years of Film Theory: Münsterberg and Beyond | UCLA Film & Television Archive

He says “The lawyer alone is obdurate. The theoey and the judge and the juryman are sure that they do not need the experimental psychologist. They go on thinking that their legal instinct and their common sense supplies them with all that is needed and somewhat more.

Just in the line of the law it therefore seems necessary not to rely simply on the technical statements of scholarly treatises, but to carry the discussion in the most popular form mynsterberg before the wider tribunal of the general reader” cementing his position that while the lawyer, judge, and the jurymen are confident in their abilities, that with the use of experimental psychology he can show just how flawed their thinking can really be. Filn describes how eye witness testimony is inherently susceptible to what he calls “illusions” where a subject’s perceptions could be affected by the circumstances, making their memory of the events that transpired or testimony inaccurate.

He states that with regularity the testimony between two different individuals in the same circumstances can be radically different, even when neither of whom had the slightest interest in changing the facts as remembered. Because one’s memory is affected by the associations, judgments, and suggestions that penetrate into every one of one’s tjeory and munsyerberg out memory and our recollection of events.

Less well known but highly prescient, Munsterberg wrote about “Untrue Confessions. He asked them, “without any theoretical introduction, at the beginning of an ordinary lecture, to write down tgeory answers theorg a number of questions referring to that which they would see or munserberg, and urged them “to do it as conscientiously and carefully as possible.

First he would show them a large sheet of white cardboard with a certain number of black dots munsterbedg it spread in an irregular order. He exposed it for the students to view for only five munsterber, and then asked them how many black dots that they thought were on the sheet.

The results were surprising in that even with “highly trained, careful observers, munstedberg attention was concentrated on the material, and who had full time for quiet scrutiny Based on the results of his experiments, he “warned against the munsternerg confidence in the observations of the average normal man” and concluded that one cannot rely on the accuracy of a normal person’s memory.

In a portion of the book which he calls “The Detection of Crime” he discusses the many factors that can influence testimony, gain confessions, and force a confession from those who are innocent.

At all times, innocent men have been accused by the tortured ones, crimes which were never committed have been confessed, infamous lies have been invented, to satisfy the demands of the torturers. Theorh believed that certain mental neurological munsterbwrg have a cellular-metabolic causation and diagnosed based on his behavioristic observations of the hugp reactions to interviews of them by him.

Psychotherapythe book he authored in regard to his investigations of matters of the mind. He defined psychotherapy as “the practice of treating the sick by influencing the mental life When trying to understand the causes of abnormal behavior, he saw many mentally ill people. Because he was seeing them for scientific reasons, he chose not to charge them for his services and attempted to understand the causes of abnormal behavior.

His treatment, which he applied mainly to cases of alcoholism, drug addiction, phobia, and munsterbeerg dysfunction, was basically instilling in his patients the idea that they could expect to improve as a result of their efforts.

He also employed reciprocal antagonism which is when you strengthen thoughts opposite of the behavior that is causing the problems. His books dealt with many topics including hiring workers who had personalities and mental abilities best suited to certain types of vocations as the best way to increase motivation, performance, and retention, methods of increasing work efficiency, and marketing and advertising techniques.

His objective was “to sketch the outlines of a new science which is to intermediate between the modern laboratory psychology and the problems of economics: These three questions include “how we can find the men whose munsterberh qualities make them best fitted for the work which they have to do; secondly, under what psychological conditions we can secure the greatest and most satisfactory output of theeory from every man; and finally, how we can produce most completely the influences on human minds which are desired in the interest of business.


Fi,m variations of will and feeling, of perception and thought, of attention and emotion, of memory and imagination. In the first place, young people know very little about themselves and their abilities.

When the day comes on which they discover their real strong points and their weaknesses, it is often too late. They have usually been drawn into the current of a particular vocation, and have given too much energy to the preparation for a specific achievement to change the whole life-plan once more. The entire scheme of education gives to the individual little chance to find himself.

A mere interest for one or another subject in school is influenced by many accidental circumstances, by the personality of the teacher or the methods of instruction, by suggestions hugk the surroundings and by home traditions, and accordingly theeory such a preference gives rather a slight final indication of the individual mental qualities.

Moreover, such mere inclinations and interests cannot determine the true psychological fitness for a vocation. He describes how two such systems have come to rise in America that attempt to guide young students as they leave school to their chosen vocation, and a newer system marked by a movement toward scientific management in commerce and industry.

This second newer system started in Boston and is essentially a form of career guidance for children. A member of the community would call a meeting of all the neighborhood boys who were to leave elementary school at the end of the year and discuss with them whether they had any reasonable plans for the future. It was clear that the boys knew little of what they wanted to do or what would be expected of them in the real world, and the leader was able to give them, especially in one-one-one conversations, valuable advice.

They knew too little of the characteristic features of the vocations to which they wanted to devote themselves, and they had given hardly any attention to the question whether they had the necessary qualifications for the hhugo work. There is hardly any doubt that the remarkable success of this modest beginning was dependent upon the admirable personality of the late organizer, who recognized the individual features with unusual tact and acumen.

Hugo Münsterberg

But he himself had no doubt that such a merely munstfrberg method could not satisfy the demands. Second, that the schools would have to be interested in the question of vocational choice so that observations of an individual child could be made about their abilities and interests.

Theroy finally, what he believed to be the most important point, “the methods had to be elaborated in such a way that the personal traits and dispositions might be discovered with much greater exactitude and with much richer detail than was possible through what a mere call on the vocational counselor could unveil.

Finally investigating how a company can secure the thelry possible effects in terms of sales. Though he firmly believed that women should receive where possible, a higher education, he felt that thepry studies were too difficult and demanding for them.

As well as suggesting that women should not be allowed to serve on juries because they were ” A Psychological Study as one of the early examples of film theory. He had a “great record of exposing mediums and other psychic charlatans”.

A notable episode in this facet of his theoory involved his exposure of the fraudulent spiritualist medium Eusapia Palladino. Her tricks had been exposed many times before, yet she had prospered. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

DanzigKingdom of Prussia. Cambridge, MassachusettsU.

An introduction to the history of psychology. HeinzeJews and the American Soul: Muunsterberg from the original on William James in the development of American psychology. Columbia University Press Essays on Psychology and Crime. On the witness stand: Essays on psychology and crime. Psychology and Industrial Efficiency. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company,