Harvard Psychological Studies, Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 678 pages of information about Harvard Psychological Studies, Volume 1.

A stanza of the form of A (Table I.) was clicked out by the instrument, but the subject had no clue as to the regularity or irregularity of any verse.  The stanza was repeated as often as the subject wished, but not without a pause of a few moments between each repetition.

TABLE I.

THE INFLUENCE OF A LAG IN THE FIRST VERSE ON THE JUDGMENT OF IDENTICAL
LAGS IN LATER VERSES.

A. Stanza given:    I. 34  34  35  34   p. 7-9
II.  "   "   "   "      "
III.  "   "   "   "      "

In 14 cases the following was reported: 

I. Lag noted. 
II. " not noted. 
III. " " "

In 9 cases the following was reported: 

I. Lag noted. 
II.  "    "   but shorter than first. 
III.  "    "    "     "      "    "

In 6 cases the following was reported: 

I. Lag noted. 
II.  "    "   and equal to first. 
III.  "    "    "    "    "   "
B. Stanza given:    I. 35  34  34  34   p. 7-9
II.  "   "   "   "      "
III.  "   "   "   "      "

Any pause large enough to be noted in I. was noted in II. and
III. (This table contains the judgments made on all trials.)

Most of the judgments of the third set are due to the fact that the subject first attended to the series on the second or third verse.  The large number of cases (83 per cent.) in which the lags in the second and third verses were concealed by the equal lag in the first verse, makes it very probable that the type of a verse is somehow altered by the impression left by the preceding verse.

The method of determining the maximal lags (as previously described) gave interesting evidence on the point at which the unity of the verse is actually felt.  In the form

I.    5 (34)
II.    34 lag 34  34  34  34-34

as the lag increases, a point is reached at which the unity may be made to include the first foot or to ignore it.  Which of these is done depends on the subject’s attitude, or on the point at which the verse is brought to a close. In either case the unity, the ’pentameter feeling,’ is not experienced until the end of the series unified is reached. This is the case with all the subjects.

This development of the feeling of the particular verse form only at the end of the verse, and the fact that the subject may be uncertain which form he will hear until the series has actually ceased, shows that the verse-form movement is not of such a character that the close of it may not be considerably modified.  A form which may fit the pentameter can be broken off early, and become a satisfactory tetrameter.  The feeling seems to depend on some total effect of the verse at the close.  This effect is probably a blending of the mass-effect of the impressions received thus far, which have a definite character and feeling significance, and which form the motor disposition for the next verse.  The essential thing in the determination of verse unity seems to be the dying out of the automatism, the cessation of the cooerdination of the cyclic movement.  The rhyme, it would seem, emphasizes the close of the automatic cycle.  But it is probable that satisfactory phrasing has other characteristics, and a definite form as a movement whole.

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