Wundt, Wilhelm Maximilian (1832–1920) By Dosso, Jill; Boudreau, Jean-Paul
Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt, born in Neckarau (now Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg), was a German scientist who pioneered the field of experimental psychology. His best-known work, Grundzüge der physiologischen Psychologie [Principles of Physiological Psychology], published in two volumes (volume one in 1873 and volume two in 1874), is the first work to introduce the study of mental processes—psychology—as a new and distinct science. Moreover, Wundt was the first to build a laboratory for psychological research, launched at the University of Leipzig in 1879. Emphasizing the study of conscious experiences through a system of rigorous introspection—what he called “internal perception” [innere Wahrnehmung]—Wundt broke with early 19th-century means of understanding mental processes through his focus on experimental study and the individual, parallel to modernist considerations of individual subjectivities and radical experimentation. A prolific writer, with an estimated 53,000 pages of published work, Wundt moved psychology from its traditional alignment with philosophy into a separate and empirical field of study with its own distinctly modern methods of investigating mental processes.