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Ebbinghaus, Hermann

EBBINGHAUS, HERMANN

German psychologist, pioneer in the experimental investigation of memory, b. Barmen, Jan. 24, 1850; d. Halle, Feb. 26, 1909. He took his doctorate at Bonn with a dissertation on the philosophy of the unconscious of E. von hartmann in 1873. Later, while studying privately, he chanced upon a copy of the Elemente der Psychophysik of G. T. Fechner and at once began to adapt Fechner's method to the measurement of learning and memory. He first used himself as a subject and 2,300 nonsense syllables of his own invention for material; later he verified his results and published them in Ueber das Gedächtnis (Leipzig 1885). At this time he was at Berlin where, as assistant professor, he founded a psychological laboratory in 1886. Ebbinghaus is memorable also for the construction of a completion test, the type destined for long use in intelligence testing. In 1890, with Arthur König, he founded the Zeitschrift für Psychologie und Physiologie der Sinnesorgane (Leipzig). He wrote two highly successful books, a general text, Die Grundzüge der Psychologie (Leipzig 1902), and a shorter work, Abriss der Pscychologie (Leipzig 1908). His treatise on memory is considered by some as the original impetus for more research in psychology than any other single study.

Bibliography: e.g. boring, A History of Experimental Psychology (New York 1950). r. i. watson, The Great Psychologists (Philadelphia 1963).

[m. g. keckeissen]

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