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William James The Later Years William James introduced experimental psychology to America He began giving laboratory demonstrations to students at least as early as Wundt and he and his students started performing laboratory experiments about the same time as Wundt and his students Ironically while James made much of the value of experimentation he himself found it boring He usually spent no more than two hours a day in the laboratory Yet he believed in it and had his students perform a broad array of experiments Although James hated to do experiments he forced himself to when it was the best way to prove or disprove a theory But Jamess own experiments were only one source of his ideas about psychology He came up with many of his major insights and hypotheses from another and very different source introspection of a kind quite unlike that practiced by Wundt and his students In Jamess opinion any effort to seize and isolate individual elements of a thought process by means of Wundtian introspection would fail But he felt that a naturalistic kind of introspection to observe our own thoughts and feelings as they actually seem to us could tell us alot about our mental life This was for him the most important of the investigative methods Introspection required both concentration and practice because inner states follow each other rapidly and often are blended and difficult to distinguish from one another Just as with practice one can notice observe name and classify objects outside oneself one can do so with inner events Introspection is in reality immediate retrospection the conscious mind looks back and reports what it has just experienced James admitted that introspection is difficult and prone to error Who could be sure of the exact order of feelings when they were excessively rapid Etc But he said that the validity of some kinds of introspective reports could be tested and verified by
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