Herman Ebbinghaus

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Jennifer Weyhenmeyer
Kimberly Maring
Kaplan University

Hermann Ebbinghaus was a German psychologist who is best known for his experimental study of memory. Hermann Ebbinghaus is credited for the forgetting curve, the spacing effect and was the first to describe what a learning curve was. Ebbinghaus began his studies in 1879 in a testing lab in Germany; Wilhelm Wundt was also conducting psychology experiments at the same lab. One thing to keep in mind is that Ebbinghaus had no university backing him and his research, he had no professor to ask questions about his research and he had no lab to work out of. (Schultz & Schultz, 2011) Hermann Ebbinghaus contributed to modern psychology because of his publication “Memory: A contribution to Experimental Psychology, the forgetting curve and the spacing effect.

In 1885 Hermann Ebbinghaus published one of his best known works called “Memory: A contribution to Experimental Psychology. Ebbinghaus’s paper was on serial learning. Serial learning is where the learner is exposed to stimuli to be remembered and later recalls those stimuli in the same order in which they were given to the learner. A good example of serial learning would be a child who is just learning the alphabet. The same stimuli are given, the letter A and that sets off the rest of the alphabet. In this publication Ebbinghaus used nonsense syllables; usually three syllables a consonant, a verb, and a consonant. Although, Ebbinghaus did not always use just three syllables he sometimes used up to six syllables. Ebbinghaus used himself in this study which took up five years to complete. (Schultz & Schultz, 2011) Ebbinghaus’s goal during this experiment was after the first syllable in the list was given the remainder of the list was to be repeated on the very first try. Ebbinghaus measured his data by his speed, the number of times before the list was retained, and the speed at how fast the list would be forgotten. Ebbinghaus also made...
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