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.

   [3] Meumaun, E.:  ‘Beitraege zur Psychologie des Zeitsinns,’ II.,
   Phil.  Studien, IX., S. 264.

The stimulations employed were light blows from the cork tip of a hammer actuated by an electric current.  These instruments, of which there were two, exactly alike in construction, were similar in principle to the acoustical hammers employed by Estel and Mehner.  Each consisted essentially of a lever about ten inches in length, pivoted near one extremity, and having fastened to it near the pivot an armature so acted upon by an electromagnet as to depress the lever during the passage of an electric current.  The lever was returned to its original position by a spring as soon as the current through the electromagnet ceased.  A clamp at the farther extremity held a small wooden rod with a cork tip, at right angles to the pivot, and the depression of the lever brought this tip into contact with the dermal surface in proximity with which it had been placed.  The rod was easily removable, so that one bearing a different tip could be substituted when desired.  The whole instrument was mounted on a compact base attached to a short rod, by which it could be fastened in any desired position in an ordinary laboratory clamp.

During the course of most of the experiments the current was controlled by a pendulum beating half seconds and making a mercury contact at the lowest point of its arc.  A condenser in parallel with the contact obviated the spark and consequent noise of the current interruption.  A key, inserted in the circuit through the mercury cup and tapping instrument, allowed it to be opened or closed as desired, so that an interval of any number of half seconds could be interposed between successive stimulations.

In the first work, a modification of the method of right and wrong cases was followed, and found satisfactory.  A series of intervals, ranging from one which was on the whole distinctly perceptible as longer than the standard to one on the whole distinctly shorter, was represented by a series of cards.  Two such series were shuffled together, and the intervals given in the order so determined.  Thus, when the pile of cards had been gone through, two complete series had been given, but in an order which the subject was confident was perfectly irregular.  As he also knew that in a given series there were more than one occurrence of each compared interval (he was not informed that there were exactly two of each), every possible influence favored the formation each time of a perfectly fresh judgment without reference to preceding judgments.  The only fear was lest certain sequences of compared intervals (e.g., a long compared interval in one test followed by a short one in the next), might produce unreliable results; but careful examination of the data, in which the order of the interval was always noted, fails to show any influence of such a factor.

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