Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

Experimental Psychology: A Manual of Laboratory Practice, Vol. I: Qualitative Experiments, part 2: Instructor's Manual
Titchener, Edward B.
Attention and Action 
tion holds fast to something already given more easily than it finds something 
that has to be looked for”). See Stumpf,Tonps., i., 244 {., 386, 391 ; ii., 318, 
358 ; Fechner, Abh. d. kgl. sächs. Ges. d. Wiss., vii., 395 ; Revision d. Haupt- 
puncte d. Psychophysik, 1882, 283. 
Question (8) The fourth law is borne out by the verdict of 
introspection in all cases of attentive observation. When one 
has found the puzzle-figure or the overtone, and is attending-to 
it, the rest of the puzzle-picture and the rest of the clang do not 
stand out in a middle degree of clearness above the sights, 
sounds, etc., of one’s surroundings ; they are as indistinct and 
obscure as these surroundings. If one has singled out two 
overtones, by the attention, these two tones stand with equal 
clearness in the foreground of consciousness : one cgnnot hear 
the one more clearly than the other, and sense both more clearly 
than the remaining processes in consciousness. Hold the two 
hands to the ears, and rub together the forefinger and thumb of 
each hand. You can divide the attention equally (though not 
for any length of time) between the two noises ; you cannot dis¬ 
tribute it more to the one than to the other, and to both more 
than to what is, e.g., before your eyes. The rule holds in every 
case: while “we are compelled by certain facts of the mental 
life to speak of at least two different states of consciousness, 
which may vary in degree ” (Kiilpe), introspection never reveals 
to us more than two states in a given consciousness, no matter 
what the degrees of clearness or obscurity may be. Pass be¬ 
yond the second state, and you come to the unconscious, i.e., 
psychologically, to nothing. 
Great care must be taken, in observations of the kind here described, to 
avoid an oscillation of the attention from contents to contents. Such oscilla¬ 
tion is, as we shall see (in the meantime, cf. Stumpf, ii., 317), characteristic 
of attention in general ; it may escape an untrained introspection, and thus 
give rise to the illusion of three grades of conscious clearness. 
Experiment (3). Fifth Law. — In its classical form (Urbant- 
schitsch), this experiment is performed with the ticking of a 
watch as stimulus. O is seated sidewise to the length of a cor¬ 
ridor or large room. He may, if he desire, plug the ear which 
is not to be used for observation. E draws a chalk line upon 
the floor, from a point immediately below O's ear to a point


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