Harvard Psychological Studies, Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 757 pages of information about Harvard Psychological Studies, Volume 1.

The apparatus which I used in these first experiments possesses several manifest advantages.  Chief among these was the rapidity with which large numbers of judgments could be gathered and automatically recorded.  Then, in long distances, when the open space was presented first, the subject found no difficulty in striking the first point of the filled space.  Dresslar mentioned this as one reason why in his experiments he could not safely use long distances.  His subjects complained of an anxious straining of the attention in their efforts to meet the first point of the filled space.

There are two defects manifest in this apparatus.  In the first place, the other tactual sensations that arise from contact with the thimble and from the friction with the carrier moving along the sliding rod cannot be disregarded as unimportant factors in the judgments.  Secondly, there is obviously a difference between a judgment that is made by the subject’s stopping when he reaches a point which seems to him to measure off equal spaces, and a judgment that is made by sweeping the finger over a card, as in Dresslar’s experiments, with a uniform motion, and then, after the movement has ceased, pronouncing judgment upon the relative lengths of the two spaces.  In the former case the subject moves his finger uniformly until he approaches the region of equality, and then slackens his speed and slowly comes to a standstill.  This of course changes the character of the judgments.  Both of these defects I remedied in another apparatus which will be described later.  For my present purpose I may disregard these objections, as they affect alike all the judgments.

In making the tests for the first series, the subject removed his finger after each judgment, so that the position of the apparatus could be changed and the subject made to enter upon the new judgment without knowing either the approximate length or the nature of the filling of this new test.  With this apparatus no attempt was made to discover the effects of introducing changes in the rate of speed.  The only requirement was that the motion should be uniform.  This does not mean that I disregarded the factor of speed.  On the contrary, this time element I consider as of the highest consequence in the whole of the present investigation.  But I soon discovered, in these experiments, that the subjects themselves varied the rate of speed from judgment to judgment over a wide range of rates.  There was no difficulty in keeping track of these variations, by recording the judgments under three groups, fast, slow and medium.  But I found that I could do this more conveniently with another apparatus, and will tell at a later place of the results of introducing a time element.  In these first experiments the subject was allowed to use any rate of speed which was convenient to him.


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Harvard Psychological Studies, Volume 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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