Sigrid Leyssen (guest researcher 2012)
Sigrid Leyssen studies the history of experimental psychology by looking at the images that psychologists have worked with. In her dissertation project she investigates a case in the history of psychological stimuli images used in perception experiments. The project, which is situated in between Media Studies and the History and Philosophy of Science, is entitled ‘Stimuli Images and Image Perception in Albert Michotte’s Experimental Phenomenology of Perception`. The experimental psychologist Albert Michotte (1881-1965), in his experiments on the perception of causality, used big paper discs with coloured lines on them. These discs, when rotated and looked at through a slit in a covering screen, could present his observers with small coloured rectangles in different kinds of interactions. The focus of the present project is on this disc method as a medium for presenting moving images to observers in the psychological laboratory. This instrumental method, however, has a long and rich history. At the Adolf-Würth-Center for the History of Psychology (AWZ), with the help of their extensive apparatus and image collection, Sigrid Leyssen will further explore this disc method and its history. This will include contributing to the making of a replica of the Banc Michotte, exploring the insights an experimental approach to the history of science can bring.
For studying the work of Albert Michotte, the Adolf-Würth-Center for the History of Psychology at Würzburg University is, moreover, an especially felicitous place. At the beginning of his career, Albert Michotte spent two semesters, in 1907 and 1908, at the psychology institute of Wurzburg. About this research stay he wrote in his autobiography that he was perfectly happy there and that this stay had been especially important for his career as an experimental psychologist: ‘J'y fus parfaitement heureux et ce fut une véritable révélation, car c'est à Külpe que je dois ma véritable formation psychologique’. (Michotte, 1954, p.3)
Sigrid Leyssen studied Philosophy and Film Studies in Leuven and Cambridge, UK, with a master dissertation on Sartre´s L‘imaginaire and his theory of images. She did research stays at the FUBerlin and Harvard University. Before coming to the Adolf-Würth-Center for the History of Psychology, she was part of the eikones Graduiertenkolleg Bild und Zeit, eikones NFS Bildkritik in Basel. This stay at the AWZ was funded by the Adolf Würth GmbH & Co. KG, the Werner and Rosemarie Traxel-Stiftung, and some further donations.
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