Achs Lawsprinciplestheory

The German psychologist Narziss Ach (18711946) was one member of the group of researchers (others included O. Kulpe, H. Watt, K. Marbe, and K. Buhler) at the famous Wurzburg "new" experimental school in Germany during the early 1900s. The Wurzburg group studied thought processes via verbalized introspection and complex cognitive events (as opposed to studying sensations, which was the primary emphasis at the University of Leipzig under Wilhelm Wundt's leadership). Ach's work on systematic experimental introspection, awareness, and determining tendency was germinal to the exodus of experimental psychologists away from the exclusive use of introspection as a research method. Ach's method was systematic in that it clearly delineated the limits of a participant's introspection (i.e., "looking into one's own experience and reporting on it") to the "fore," "mid," and "after" periods for making introspective reports during the conduct of an experiment. Ach also achieved relatively high levels of precision in his studies by using devices such as the "Hipp chronoscope" [an apparatus for measuring time intervals, first constructed by the German inventor/watchmaker Mathias Hipp (1813-1893) in

1843] in his experiments. Ach's principles concerning determining tendencies in experiments contain what are, perhaps, the most important aspects of his work for present-day experimentalists. Ach showed that there were unconscious influences operating on participants' behavior during experiments, including factors such as the instructions given by the experimenter to the participants. The determining tendencies were thought to be known by some means other than the participants' introspections. An example of determining tendency is given by Boring, Langfeld, and Weld (1939, p. 389), who describe an experiment on hypnosis. After the "subject" (the word "participant" seems to be the favored term to use today in experimental contexts) was hypnotized, the suggestion was made that after waking, two cards with two digits on each would be shown. For the first card, the person was to give the sum of the digits, and for the second card, to give the difference between the two digits. Upon waking from the hypnotic state, a card was shown on which the digits 6 and 2 were written; the person immediately said "8." When the second card was shown, containing the digits 4 and 2, the same person said "2." The individual had no memory of the prior suggestion and could give no explanation of what he had said about the cards, nor did it occur to the person that 8 was the sum of 2 and 6 or that 2 was the difference between 4 and 2. According to Ach's principle, the determining tendencies "fix" the course of thought by favoring certain "associations" that spring from the immediate situation and inhibit other associations. In this way, the tendencies give directive order in a situation containing a number of competing possibilities and enable an answer to be given to the question of why a particular possibility is materialized rather than any other one. Other experiments have indicated that determining tendencies function to give completion to already established patterns of thought (cf., Zeigarnik effect; mind/mental set) and may reinforce old associations that the person may have established partially. According to Ach's principle, the directive or determining tendency makes the action of a person more than a rigid mechanical sequence of events such as is found in the movements of a machine. The term determining tendencies is somewhat archaic today and is being replaced by validity- and control-sensitive terms in experimental psychology such as "preparatory set," "demand characteristics of the situation," "ecological validity of the experiment," and "experimenter effect." Such contemporary terms seek to sensitize and motivate the experimenter to control various potentially confounding variables that may exist in the psychological experiment where there is a dynamic interplay between the participant, the experimenter, and the experimental setting or context. See also ASSOCIATION, LAWS AND PRINCIPLES OF; MIND/MENTAL SET, LAW OF; PERCEPTION (I. GENERAL), THEORIES OF; ZEIGNARIK EFFECT/PHENOMENON. REFERENCES

Ach, N. (1905). Uber die willenstatigkeit und das denken, eine experimentalle untersuchung mit einem anhange: Uber das Hippsche chronoskop. Gottingen, West Germany: Vandenhoech & Ruprecht.

(1939). Introduction to psychology. New York: Wiley. Ach, N. (1944). Lehrbuch der psychologie.

Vol. 3. Praktische psychologie. Bamberg: Buchner.

Using Hypnosis To Achieve Mental Mastery

Using Hypnosis To Achieve Mental Mastery

Hypnosis is a capital instrument for relaxation and alleviating stress. It helps calm down both the brain and body, giving a useful rest. All the same it can be rather costly to hire a clinical hypnotherapist, and we might not always want one around when we would like to destress.

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