Psychology in Germany History

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Psychology is an old field in German society, dating back to the 1800s. However, significant changes in the field's development happened in Germany between the years 1800 and 2000. During this period, psychology in Germany progressed through what are known as Methodological Stages, which defined the schools of thought in different periods on the subject of psychology. The stages are as follows: the consensus stage, the transfer stage, and the disagreement stage.

The methods and theories in the realm of science dominated the transfer stage. This was the point at which existing scientific approaches were applied to how problems were seen in society (Schönpflug, 2015). This stage of the 19th century was popular with psychologists such as Gustav Theodor Fechner (1801-1887). The transfer stage was supplanted by the dissent stage towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. This stage is characterized by the formation of popular schools of psychology such the Wurzburg School, the Gottingen School. The stage lasted up to the 1950s. At this stage, the institutionalization of modern psychology began and the field professionalized into applied psychology.

In the 1930s up until the 1940s, the stage of consensus was attained in the German psychology. The stage lasts until today. The major characteristic of the stage is the creation of a norm of empirical methodology. More structural features of psychology were also described such as preceding of the genesis of the discipline and the merging of the major schools of psychology into an overall psychological system. World war one accelerated the development of psychology into the human application form (Schönpflug, 2015). For example, military pilots were taken through aptitude tests and radio operators were also psychologically tested to improve their efficiency in their fields of operation. Professionalization of psychology resulted to institutionalization in both practical and academic texts.

The development of psychology in Germany was as a result of the effort put by the German psychologists over various historical periods. Some of these psychologists include: Georg Elias Muller (1850-1934).George was a psychologist and director at the University of Gottingen, a major psychological research institution. He was responsible in the psychological advancement in the knowledge of memory, learning and color vision and how the aspects affected the psychology of human beings.

Wilhelm Wundt, another notable figure in the development of psychology in Germany. Was responsible for the development of the Structuralism school of thought of psychology. Wilhelm opened the first of psychological laboratories in Germany. With the help of Edward B. Titchener, the Structuralism approach to psychology was developed (Schönpflug, 2015). In the approach, introspection is used in the identification of psychological experiences. Hermann Ebbinghaus, a German psychologist also contributed immensely towards psychology development in the country. He studied the impact of psychological conditions on the ability of individuals remembering non-important syllables.

Another famous German psychologist was Erich Fromm. Born in 1900, he was one of the major proponents of the humanistic approach to psychology. Erich focused on the socio-psychology in the German society. In his theory, Fromm argued that individuals are social beings, and that interactions between people is at all times restricted by the social requirements and taboos in that society. He considered individuals as relational in nature.

Conclusively, the field of psychology has undergone great strides in Germany into the modern error of field of psychology. Passing through the three stages mentioned above, the historical development of psychology in Germany has enabled psychologists to have a better understanding of the human behavior. The various schools of thought of psychology such as the Gottingen School contributed immensely to the development of psychology in the German society.


Schönpflug, W. (2015). HISTORY OF PSYCHOLOGY IN GERMANY. Ceskoslovenska Psychologie, 59(2), 187.

April 26, 2023

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