Hermann Ebbinghaus and His Contributions to Psychology

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Hermann Ebbinghaus
Michelle Logan
Kaplan University

Professor Jennifer Robertson
November 15, 2011

Hermann Ebbinghaus

In this paper, I will discuss Hermann Ebbinghaus and his contributions to psychology. I will then evaluate his contributions and explain their importance in the field of psychology today. Ebbinghaus is probably most notably known for his discovery of the “forgetting curve”. However, Ebbinghaus made many other significant contributions to the field of psychology. For example: he also developed the first scientific approach to the study of a higher psychological process (memory); and he was the first person to use nonsense syllables in learning and memory research. I will explain the significance of each throughout this paper. Hermann Ebbinghaus was born on January 24, 1850 to a family of Lutheran merchants in Barmen, Germany. He received a Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Bonn in 1873. Then in 1878, he went off to conduct his first set of memory experiments. In 1885, he published his groundbreaking Über das Gedchtnis (On Memory), in which he described experiments he conducted on himself to describe the process of forgetting. (New World Encyclopedia, 2011) Today it is considered to be one of the most influential psychology texts in print. Ebbinghaus set out to prove Wilhelm Wundt wrong, who claimed human memory to be incapable of experimental study. (New World Encyclopedia, 2011) This was of importance for many reasons. First, this was important because before this, it was not believed that the memory could be studied. Ebbinghaus showed that it could, in fact, be studied. Where would psychology be without the study of the human memory? Ebbinghaus thought outside of the box. He thought beyond physical observation; he thought beyond introspection; he thought into the past. For the first time, someone looked at how things were remembered—opening the door to how recall influences the present. All decisions are a culmination...
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