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Hermann Ebbinghaus

By | July 2012
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Hermann Ebbinghaus
Helen Farel
Kaplan University

Hermann Ebbinghause was a German Philosopher and Psychologist who devoted several years of his life to the science of psychology. He established a number of experimental studies of memory and is best known for his discovery of the “forgetting curve,” which shows the loss of memory retention over time. He was the first psychologist to study human learning and memory.

Hermann Ebbinghaus established the experimental study of memory, and is best known for his discovery of the forgetting curve. He was the first person to explain the learning curve.
He started his memory studies in 1879 after he created the 3rd psychological testing lab in “Germany and he also published his work, Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology that year. In his published work he described experiments that he did on himself to describe the methods of learning and forgetting.

The forgetting curve shows that we tend to lose half the memory of recently earned information in as little as a couple of days unless we continuously review the information. Most students show retention of 90% after a few days, contingent on the material, meaning during this time, the forgetting curve falls by 10%. Ebbinghaus observed that the rate of forgetting is dependent upon several causes, such as how important the information is to the individual, the difficulty of the learned information and other matters including stress and sleep. He found that the basic forgetting rate differed somewhat between each person.

Ebbinghaus wanted to prove that the higher mental processes could be studied using experimentation. He invented nonsense syllables and was the first person to use them in his learning and memory research. His invention of nonsense syllables revolutionized the study of learning.

“E.B. Titchener noted...
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