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L'introspection en psychologie expérimentale

Jérôme SACKUR
Revue d'histoire des sciences
Vol. 62, No. 2 (juillet-décembre 2009), pp. 349-372
Published by: Armand Colin
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23634397
Page Count: 24
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Abstract

L'introspection fait l'objet, depuis les origines de la psychologie expérimentale, d'une polémique intense. On a retenu de cette polémique quelques idées simples : la psychologie aurait commencé par être une discipline d'introspection, puis les béhavioristes auraient mis fin à cette pratique, enfin elle aurait définitivement disparu des laboratoires — qu'on s'en réjouisse ou désole. Je souhaite ici montrer que cette conception minore l'ambivalence du rapport à l'introspection qu'eurent les premiers psychologues expérimentaux; qu'elle manque l'intention philosophique du béhaviorisme; et enfin qu'elle ignore l'usage continu et déterminant de l'introspection en psychologie expérimentale, tout au long du XXe siècle. Introspection has been at the heart of an intense ideologi cal struggle since the beginnings of experimental psychology. Some simple ideas were retained in the history of the field : first, psychology was originally driven by introspection; second, behaviorism put an end to its use; and third, as a consequence, introspection was in effect banned from the psychological laboratories. In this paper, I try to show that such a view not only oversimplifies the ambivalence toward introspection of early experimentalists; it also misconstrues the intents of behaviorism; and lastly it ignores the fact that introspection has been used without any real interruption during the 20th century, and that it was often instrumental in the progress of experimental psychology.

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