Fifty Volumes of the Psychological Review

Herbert S. Langfeld

In 1894 the PSYCHOLOGICAL REVIEW was born. Seven years earlier G. Stanley Hall had founded the American Journal of Psychology. William James' Principles appeared in 1890; also C. von Ehrenfels' Über Gestaltqualitäten. J. McK. Cattell and G. S. Fullerton published their monograph `On the Perception of Small Differences' in 1892. In the same year Wundt revised his Vorlesungen über die Menschen- und Thierseele and the young Titchener published his first piece of research `Zur Chronometrie des Erkennungsactes.' In 1893 Charcot died; Külpe, then 31, finished his Grundriss der Psychologie.

During the first year of the new journal—1894—Helmholtz and Romanes died, and M. F. Washburn became a doctor of philosophy. Stumpf went as professor of philosophy to the University of Berlin and took Schumann with him as assistant. Dewey went to Chicago. Münsterberg, who had published his Beiträge zur experimentellen Psychologie between 1889 and 1892, was in the middle of his three-year trial period at Harvard; and Lillian J. Martin began the work with G. E. Müller which culminated in their study `Zur Analyse der Unterschiedsempfindlichkeit.' Hall, who was in his sixth year as president of Clark University, was considered by an enthusiastic group of young psychologists as the prime ,mover of the new psychology in America, while Hall himself was complaining that G. T. Ladd had already published too many books. Lloyd Morgan published his Introduction to comparative psychology. G. F. Stout was beginning his lectures on moral science at St. John's College, Cambridge, and William McDougall was finishing his fourth year of study at Cambridge. T. A. Ribot's Psychologie de

( 144) l'attention (1889) appeared in a second edition. Alfred Binet's Psychologie des grands calculateurs et jouers d'échecs gave evidence of the author's budding interest in the study of intellectual capacity.

With this brief outline we have a glimpse of the psychological environment of the new journal which Cattell and J. Mark Baldwin founded. They were evidently impressed with the development of scientific psychology and wanted to see the American Journal of Psychology representative of the science rather than primarily the organ of Hall and Clark University. To this end they proposed to Hall that either they would buy the journal or he should continue to own it with a board of editors representing the leading universities. When Hall refused to consent to either proposal, Cattell and Baldwin started the PSYCHOLOGICAL REVIEW.[1]

According to Baldwin the Review, which appeared bi-monthly, was a great success from the start. It was published by the Macmillan Company and edited on alternate years by Cattell and Baldwin, with Cattell leading off. Both names appear on the title page, the name of the acting editor for the year coming first. The distinguished list of coopera-

( 145) -tive psychologists consisted of A. Binet, John Dewey, H. H. Donaldson, G. S. Fullerton, William James, Hugo Münsterberg, M. Allen Starr, Carl Stumpf and J. Sully.

At the same time as the Review, the Psychological Index was started by the editors with Howard C. Warren and Livingston Farrand as compilers. The Index was an adjunct of the Review. The first real offspring of the Review was the Psychological Monographs, which was started in 1895 with Baldwin and Cattell as editors. In 1901 Warren's name was added to the PSYCHOLOGICAL REVIEW as associate editor and business manager.

It would be hard to find two men who differed more in temperament than Cattell and Baldwin. They were alike, however, in being men of strong and decided opinions, and unfortunately they did not agree in their views on psychology. Baldwin was interested in theoretical discussion whereas Cattell wished chiefly to encourage quantitative studies. In addition there were matters of a personal nature which made for difficulties. It is not surprising, therefore, that the co-operative venture did not work out too well. That they got along at all was because, as Baldwin remarked, "each of us let the other alone during the alternate year." 2

Finally in 1903, when Baldwin went to Johns Hopkins, Cattell suggested that one of them should buy the other's half interest and control the Review. A private auction was therefore arranged in Cattell's office with the two editors as the only bidders. When the sum reached $3400, Baldwin added $5. Cattell went to $3500 and when Baldwin again added $5, Cattell gave up as he had promised himself not to go higher. So the Review went to Baltimore with Baldwin, and in 1904 Warren, who had obtained a substantial interest in the publication, became co-editor. In the same year the second offspring appeared in the form of the Psychological Bulletin, with Warren and Baldwin as editors. In 1910 Baldwin, who had gone to Paris, decided to dispose of his share of the assets of the Psychological Review Publication Company, and Warren bought it, thus becoming the sole

( 146) owner of the journals. Watson became editor of the Review, with Warren going over to the Index. In 1916 the Journal of Experimental Psychology was started, with J. B. Watson as editor. Warren went back to the Review.

In 1925 Warren offered the Psychological Review Publication Company to the American Psychological Association at the original cost price. The offer was accepted and when two-thirds of the amount had been paid, Warren cancelled the balance. Warren remained editor of the Review until his death in 1934 when Langfeld became editor.

There were 1434 articles in the first 49 volumes. This number does not include `Discussions and Literature [re-views]' and `Proceedings' which appeared in the Review until 1904 when they were transferred to the Bulletin. An important change occurred in 1916 with the appearance of the Journal of Experimental Psychology. From that time papers which were predominantly experimental appeared with decreasing frequency until the present policy of accepting only theoretical articles, or at least those with theory as the main theme, became firmly established.

The Review had an auspicious start, to judge from the list of distinguished contributors to the first volume. The contents are clear proof that psychology fifty years ago had already come of age. Ladd's presidential address to the American Psychological Association was the first paper published. His main thesis seems very familiar to us today. He defended psychology as a science, but believed the term should not be restricted to statistical and experimental treatment, that the science should help to improve the character of men and should contribute to their practical welfare. "Let the plain man," he wrote, "read carefully through the biggest of all these books on psychology and the astonishing thing is that so large a part of his daily experience is not simply left unexplained to his satisfaction, but is not treated at all." [3]

( 147) Francis Galton published his note `Arithmetic by Smell' in which he described how he trained himself to do sums by means of imagined scents as symbols for the digits. John Dewey treated the Darwinian principles in relation to emotional attitude and the James-Lange theory of emotion. Josiah Royce, who in those days considered himself a student of psychology, analyzed a morbid insistent mentality in `The Case of John Bunyan.' Hugo Münsterberg had two lengthy contributions from the Harvard Laboratory. One of them, by himself, is a minor paper related to his motor theory of attention. Another by Edgar Pierce is an account of an experiment with `simple forms,' which has influenced aesthetic inquiry. George Stuart Fullerton made a plea for experimental psychology. He wrote, "The excellence of Professor James' book [Principles] . . . lies . . . in the fact that he does, in spite of himself, usually treat psychology as a natural science." Cattell, with C. S. Dolley, discussed the question, which was prominent in those days, of the possibility of measuring the velocity of the nervous impulse by means of reaction times. Their conclusion was negative but they made the insightful prophecy that "the nerve can only be measured when we are able to record its progress perhaps by electrical or chemical changes." Joseph Jastrow reported a statistical study of association of ideas in which sex differences were determined. E. W. Scripture, in a short contribution, advocated the use of the median in psychological measurement. Binet presented a number of reports from persons who had had the sudden illusion of reversed orientation. Lightner Witmer discussed the means of controlling the Hipp chronoscope, a problem which troubled psychologists for several decades. E. A. Kirkpatrick presented the results of research into the function of various forms of imagery in retention' and stressed the importance of such data for education.

Some of these problems are now dead; some are still very much alive. It is of more consequence, however, that the standard of quality set by this first volume has been for the most part sustained throughout the years. Important writ-

( 148) -ings of most of the outstanding American psychologists have appeared from time to time, with the prominent exceptions of Hall and Titchener (two short notes only) whose loyalty to the American Journal of Psychology dictated their choice of publication.

Throughout the years the Review has reflected the chief psychological interest of the time, and the articles published seem to have played a role in stimulating debate and further research, both theoretical and experimental.

Several papers of major importance appeared in the early days. John Dewey's `The Reflex Arc Concept in Psychology' in 1896, which was vigorously attacked by Titchener in defense of structuralism, is accepted as the origin of functional-ism. In his criticism of elementarism—in which, however, he was preceded by James—he helped point the way toward a Gestalt psychology. W. L. Bryan and N. Harter's two papers (1897 and 1899) on the learning of telegraphy, with their typical learning curves which are still textbook favorites, are considered a cornerstone in the experimental study of the learning process. William James' presidential address, 1895, on `The Knowing of Things Together,' though not one of his most important papers, is significant. He here criticized the extreme associationists' view of a string of ideas whose mere contiguity is sufficient cause of their synthesis into a `belonging together' relationship. Thorndike and Woodworth were among the early investigators of the transfer of learning. The title of their paper was `The Influence of Improvement in One Mental Function upon the Efficiency of Other Functions.' The influence of these outstanding papers has been so great that it would be an almost impossible task to trace it through succeeding volumes.

The emotions have been one of the most popular subjects for discussion. In 1894 James, in his discussion of `The Physical Basis of Emotion,' answered several of his critics. Of importance is the point stressed that as soon as an object has become familiar, it is the `total situation' and not the object's `own naked presence' from which a theory of emotion must start. We have already mentioned Dewey's 1896 study.

( 149) A. M. Feleky published her suggestive paper on the expression of emotions in 1914. In 1919 Watson outlined a treatment of the emotions. The most vigorous controversy, however, was waged around the James-Lange theory and the theories of Cannon and Bard. In 1911 J. R. Angell discussed the bearing of contemporary criticism on the James-Lange theory. In 1931 Cannon explained the advantages of his theory over the James-Lange theory. Bard gave further evidence for his and Cannon's theory in 1934. Cannon came again to the defense of his theory in 1936. In 1938 K. S. Lashley criticized the Cannon and Bard theory of the function of the thalamus in emotion.

In the same year (1913) that E. L. Thorndike made a slashing attack on the ideo-motor theory and Angell discussed `behavior as a category of psychology,' the latter's pupil, Watson, finally persuaded by the reassuring encouragement of Warren, published his `Psychology as the Behaviorist Sees It.' The far-reaching effect of this paper is well-known. Many papers in regard to behaviorism began to appear—some in its favor, others against it. Among the Review authors A. P. Weiss seems to have been the most strongly influenced. Be-ginning with his paper in 1917 on the relation of structuralism to behavioral psychology, he published a long list of articles on this subject.

Just how much Watson's behaviorism has influenced theories of learning is difficult to judge, but many papers on the subject of learning have appeared in the Review since Watson's time. E. C. Tolman could not be called a disciple of 'Watson, but undoubtedly a desire for objective treatment impelled him to find a place for McDougall's purpose in a scientific psychology. He became a `purposive' behaviorist and we may follow him through the volumes of the Review from his first paper on `Instinct and Purpose' in 1920 to his work on `sign-Gestalt' in 1933, and the last of the schematic sow-bug papers in 1941. In close relation to Tolman's work is I. Krechevsky's `hypothesis' concept dating from 1932. Clark Hull's theory of learning, including conditioning and goal-gradient hypothesis, may be found developed in the Review

( 150) from his paper on trial-and-error learning in 1930 to his paper on stimulus equivalents in 1939. E. R. Guthrie, somewhat critical, of Tolman and with a different slant from Hull regarding the use of the mechanism of conditioning as a principle of learning, has appeared occasionally since 1930.

Raymond Dodge's series of far-reaching studies in the Review on eye-movements began in 1899. E. B. Holt's paper on eye-movement during rotation appeared in 1909. Related papers have appeared occasionally since, as for example, Walter Miles' work in 1931 on eye-movement during profound sleepiness.

The instinct controversy might be said to have begun in the Review with E. L. Thorndike's paper in 1899 on the instinct of chicks. The most provocative discussions on instincts are those of Z. Y. Kuo, which began in 1922 with an inquiry into the origin of instincts. Kuo was influenced rather by Watson than by Thorndike, but he has gone even beyond Watson in his rigid mechanistic interpretation.

Psychometrics had its beginning in the Review in 1896 with Cattell and Farrand's paper on the measurement of physical and mental traits. C. Spearman's theory of two factors appeared in 1914, although his theory of a general intelligence appeared elsewhere ten years earlier. It was followed in 1920 by G. H. Thompson's paper on `General Vectors of Mind' in 1934. In his `intelligence Tests of Immigrant Groups' (1930) C. C. Brigham with scientific honesty reversed his previously published view of racial differences in intelligence.

The controversy over mass vs. specific activity started in the Review in 1932 with O. C. Irwin's paper `The Organismic Hypothesis and Differentiation of Behavior.' It was followed in the same year by a paper by W. Dennis on mass activity in the infant and by one in 1934 by K. C. Pratt on the same specific subject as that of Dennis. Operationism appeared in the Review in 1935 with Stevens' paper `The Operational Definition of Psychological Concepts,' which was followed by Crissman's `An Operational Definition of Concepts' in 1939, C. Bergmann and K. W. Spence's `Operationism and Theory

( 151) in Psychology' in 1941, and E. G. Boring's "An Operational Restatement of G. E. Müller's `Psychophysical Axioms,'" also in 1941.

G. M. Stratton's fascinating experiment on `Vision With-out Inversion of the Retinal Image' was published in 1897 and is still the basis of discussion and research. For example, in 1937 H. Ewert published `Factors in Space Localization During Inverted Vision,' and P. T. Young's `Reversal of Auditory Localization' which appeared in the same year evidently has Stratton's work as a background.

L. Carmichael's research `The Development of Behavior in Vertebrates Experimentally Removed from the Influence of External Stimulation' in 1926 and his revaluation of the problem ten years later have figured prominently in discussion of the importance of environment.

Lashley's presidential address `Basic Neural Mechanisms in Behavior' was a refutation on the basis of extensive experimentation of the reflex arc concept, and its main contentions fitted into the prevailing Gestalt theory. The out-standing Gestalt psychologists published elsewhere but frequently discussions and criticisms have appeared. in the Review, as for example, R. M. Ogden's `The Gestalt-Hypothesis' in 1928, H. Helson's `The Fundamental Propositions of Gestalt Psychology' in 1933, and Boring's `Psychophysiological Systems and Isomorphic Relations' in 1936. A statement similar to that on Gestalt applies to imageless thought, which is represented in the Review by Angell's `Imageless Thought' in 1911 and R. S. Woodworth's `A Revision of Imageless Thought' in 1915.

E. G. Wever and C. W. Bray presented their `Present Possibilities for Auditory Theory' in 1930. The theoretical treatment based upon the findings of their well-known research on the auditory nerve impulse aroused considerable discussion and led to much further experimentation.

There are many more stimulating papers but space is limited. A selection by any one person obviously must suffer from a certain bias. It seemed of interest, therefore, to obtain

( 152) a more reliable estimate of the outstanding papers which have appeared in the Review.

From the 48 completed volumes of the Review a list of 100 titles was selected by the editor, with advice from some of his colleagues.[4] This list was sent to 70 prominent psychologists, 35 of whom had received the Ph.D. degree before 1916 and 35 after 1924—in other words to a psychologically older group and a psychologically younger group. They were asked to check the 25 titles which they thought most important and to number the first five in order of preference. Replies were received from 52 men, 27 from the older group and.25 from the younger group. The rank order of the first ten places is shown in Table I.

Table 1

The breakdown between older and younger groups is seen in Table II. There are several noticeable differences between the two groups. The younger men reverse the ranking of Watson and Spearman; they place Spearman above

( 153)

Table 2

Watson but they list a second title of Watson's. They place James much higher and Dewey lower than do the older men. The older men were probably influenced by the minor importance of the particular article of James, the younger by a general halo effect. As to Dewey it may be that for the younger men there was a negative halo effect from the fact that during recent years Dewey has been primarily interested in philosophy. The older men put the younger authors—Carmichael, and Wever and Bray—higher than did the younger men. The younger authors, Thurstone, Tolman, Kuo and Hilgard, appear, however, only in the list of the younger men;

( 154) and the older authors, Cattell and Farrand, Dodge, and Washburn, appear only in the list of the older men. It will be observed that the combined vote followed closely the rank order by the older men.

The preferential vote on the first five titles is seen in Table III.[5] The combined rank order is similar to that in

Table 3

Table I. The difference between the older and younger groups is slight; the only significant difference is that the older group put Bryan and Harter much higher than did the younger group.

It is obvious that this statistical survey has limited significance. It merely indicates what Review papers seem the most important. Many psychologists have either not published in the Review, or have not published their best papers there. There is also the question of reliability as it is very probable that different criteria were used in the choices. In spite of reservations, however, may we not call these rankings the Honor Roll of the Review in its fiftieth year?

This anniversary unfortunately comes at a time when our country is at war. It seems, therefore, a fitting conclusion to quote from an appeal to psychologists by Joseph Jastrow in the July number of the Review of 1917 on the occasion of the

( 155) Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the American Psychological Association, as follows:

And we of today are witnessing the largest and most appalling issues of estrangement in ideals, sentiments, allegiances, that the world has faced; the psychology of war must be considered in the establishment of enduring human relations. The world is going to be wisely ruled, the endeavors of organized men more sanely directed, the errors of the past less disastrously repeated, if a body of men find participation in the direction of affairs possessed of a psycho-logical discernment; for this insight is as indispensable to modern conditions in certain relations as is an economical, a political, or a business sense in others.

And from Gardner Murphy, who wrote in the Review in July,1942:

. . . the bitter experience of the last few decades has shown ever more clearly that reconstruction on an economic and military basis alone is not practical, that a reconstruction based on a . . . deeper study of human needs, the basis of human interrelations, is the only thing that is practical at all. Psychology has its supreme opportunity to relate itself organically to the needs of the civilization for which it has arisen, and perhaps to stabilize, strengthen, humanize that civilization.


  1. "The American Journal of Psychology edited by G. Stanley Hall has always left much to be desired. Its field is very narrow and much of its work ill-done. During the past year Professors Baldwin, Cattell and Münsterberg have been negotiating with Hall to see if some arrangement might not be made for improving the Journal, but everything has failed; and the result is that a new journal is to be started under the title (probably) of The Psychological Review with Baldwin and Cattell as chief editors and all the professors of psychology in the American universities (except Jastrow and Hall) as coöperating editors. . . . I cannot but hope that the new Review will prove good. . . . The Editorial Committee now request you (through my hand) to permit your name to be placed on the title page as cooperating editor. Binet has already allowed his name to be so used for France. I feel quite sure that the character of the Review will be such that you need have no mistrust about your name being connected with it. On the other hand, what the editors particularly desire is that your name figuring on the title should be a guarantee to other Germans of your own confidence in the capacity of the other editors. We do not expect that you should take your duties very seriously, but should be exceedingly grateful for anything you may be able to send. . . . I will undertake either myself to translate or to guarantee a good translation of any manuscript, long or short, which you may send for publication. Pray think favorably of this. We all, including Münsterberg, think that there is no German psychologist whose name would so honor and adorn the new journal as yours." (James to Stumpf, The Thought and Character of William James, by R. B. Perry. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1935, Vol. 2, p. 186. Reprinted with permission of Little, Brown & Co. and the Atlantic Monthly Press.)
  2. Between two wars (1861-1921), Boston: The Stratford Co., 1926, I, p. 65.
  3. Cattell came the following year with his presidential address in which he defended the results of the physiological and psychological laboratories against James' statement that "curious phenomena of the dissociation of consciousness throw more light on human nature than the work of all psychophysical laboratories put together." Here we have the same controversy that has appeared in recent presidential addresses.
  4. Again a certain arbitrariness appears which could not very well be avoided. One would not care to ask a large number of psychologists to go through the entire list of titles in the Review.
    I am particularly indebted to Mr. A. J. Sprow for his assistance in listing, grouping, and selecting the titles.
  5. This is not the usual type of preferential vote, as the men did not necessarily vote on the same five articles.

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