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Title: Psychology and Industrial Efficiency
Author: Münsterberg, Hugo, 1863-1916
Language: English
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PSYCHOLOGY AND
INDUSTRIAL EFFICIENCY


BY

HUGO MÜNSTERBERG


BOSTON AND NEW YORK
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
The Riverside Press Cambridge
1913



TO
HAROLD F. McCORMICK



PREFATORY NOTE

This book corresponds to a German book, which I published a few months
ago, under the title _Psychologie und Wirlschaftsleben: Ein Beitrag
zur angewandten Experimental-Psychologie_ (Leipzig: J.A. Barth). It is
not a translation, as some parts of the German volume have been
abbreviated or entirely omitted and other parts have been enlarged and
supplemented. Yet the essential substance of the two books is
identical.



CONTENTS


INTRODUCTION

  I. APPLIED PSYCHOLOGY

  II. THE DEMANDS OF PRACTICAL LIFE

  III. MEANS AND ENDS


I. THE BEST POSSIBLE MAN

  IV. VOCATION AND FITNESS

  V. SCIENTIFIC VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE

  VI. SCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT

  VII. THE METHODS OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY

  VIII. EXPERIMENTS IN THE INTEREST OF ELECTRIC RAILWAY SERVICE

  IX. EXPERIMENTS IN THE INTEREST OF SHIP SERVICE

  X. EXPERIMENTS IN THE INTEREST OF TELEPHONE SERVICE

  XI. CONTRIBUTIONS FROM MEN OF AFFAIRS

  XII. INDIVIDUALS AND GROUPS


II. THE BEST POSSIBLE WORK

  XIII. LEARNING AND TRAINING

  XIV. THE ADJUSTMENT OF TECHNICAL TO PSYCHICAL CONDITIONS

  XV. THE ECONOMY OF MOVEMENT

  XVI. EXPERIMENTS ON THE PROBLEM OF MONOTONY

  XVII. ATTENTION AND FATIGUE

  XVIII. PHYSICAL AND SOCIAL INFLUENCES ON THE WORKING POWER


III. THE BEST POSSIBLE EFFECT

  XIX. THE SATISFACTION OF ECONOMIC DEMANDS

  XX. EXPERIMENTS ON THE EFFECTS OF ADVERTISEMENTS

  XXI. THE EFFECT OF DISPLAY

  XXII. EXPERIMENTS WITH REFERENCE TO ILLEGAL IMITATION

  XXIII. BUYING AND SELLING

  XXIV. THE FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF ECONOMIC PSYCHOLOGY


NOTES

INDEX



PSYCHOLOGY AND INDUSTRIAL EFFICIENCY



INTRODUCTION



I

APPLIED PSYCHOLOGY


Our aim is to sketch the outlines of a new science which is to
intermediate between the modern laboratory psychology and the problems
of economics: the psychological experiment is systematically to be
placed at the service of commerce and industry. So far we have only
scattered beginnings of the new doctrine, only tentative efforts and
disconnected attempts which have started, sometimes in economic, and
sometimes in psychological, quarters. The time when an exact
psychology of business life will be presented as a closed and
perfected system lies very far distant. But the earlier the attention
of wider circles is directed to its beginnings and to the importance
and bearings of its tasks, the quicker and the more sound will be the
development of this young science. What is most needed to-day at the
beginning of the new movement are clear, concrete illustrations which
demonstrate the possibilities of the new method. In the following
pages, accordingly, it will be my aim to analyze the results of
experiments which have actually been carried out, experiments
belonging to many different spheres of economic life. But these
detached experiments ought always at least to point to a connected
whole; the single experiments will, therefore, always need a general
discussion of the principles as a background. In the interest of such
a wider perspective we may at first enter into some preparatory
questions of theory. They may serve as an introduction which is to
lead us to the actual economic life and the present achievements of
experimental psychology.

It is well known that the modern psychologists only slowly and very
reluctantly approached the apparently natural task of rendering useful
service to practical life. As long as the study of the mind was
entirely dependent upon philosophical or theological speculation, no
help could be expected from such endeavors to assist in the daily
walks of life. But half a century has passed since the study of
consciousness was switched into the tracks of exact scientific
investigation. Five decades ago the psychologists began to devote
themselves to the most minute description of the mental experiences
and to explain the mental life in a way which was modeled after the
pattern of exact natural sciences. Their aim was no longer to
speculate about the soul, but to find the psychical elements and the
constant laws which control their connections. Psychology became
experimental and physiological. For more than thirty years the
psychologists have also had their workshops. Laboratories for
experimental psychology have grown up in all civilized countries, and
the new method has been applied to one group of mental traits after
another. And yet we stand before the surprising fact that all the
manifold results of the new science have remained book knowledge,
detached from any practical interests. Only in the last ten years do
we find systematic efforts to apply the experimental results of
psychology to the needs of society.

It is clear that the reason for this late beginning is not an
unwillingness of the last century to make theoretical knowledge
serviceable to the demands of life. Every one knows, on the contrary,
that the glorious advance of the natural sciences became at the same
time a triumphal march of technique. Whatever was brought to light in
the laboratories of the physicists and chemists, of the physiologists
and pathologists, was quickly transformed into achievements of
physical and chemical industry, of medicine and hygiene, of
agriculture and mining and transportation. No realm of the external
social life remained untouched. The scientists, on the other hand,
felt that the far-reaching practical effect which came from their
discoveries exerted a stimulating influence on the theoretical
researches themselves. The pure search for truth and knowledge was not
lowered when the electrical waves were harnessed for wireless
telegraphy, or the Roentgen rays were forced into the service of
surgery. The knowledge of nature and the mastery of nature have always
belonged together.

The persistent hesitation of the psychologists to make similar
practical use of their experimental results has therefore come from
different causes. The students of mental life evidently had the
feeling that quiet, undisturbed research was needed for the new
science of psychology in order that a certain maturity might be
reached before a contact with the turmoil of practical life would be
advisable. The sciences themselves cannot escape injury if their
results are forced into the rush of the day before the fundamental
ideas have been cleared up, the methods of investigation really tried,
and an ample supply of facts collected. But this very justified
reluctance becomes a real danger if it grows into an instinctive fear
of coming into contact at all with practical life. To be sure, in any
single case there may be a difference of opinion as to when the right
time has come and when the inner consolidation of a new science is
sufficiently advanced for the technical service, but it ought to be
clear that it is not wise to wait until the scientists have settled
all the theoretical problems involved. True progress in every
scientific field means that the problems become multiplied and that
ever new questions keep coming to the surface. If the psychologists
were to refrain from practical application until the theoretical
results of their laboratories need no supplement, the time for applied
psychology would never come. Whoever looks without prejudice on the
development of modern psychology ought to acknowledge that the
hesitancy which was justified in the beginning would to-day be
inexcusable lack of initiative. For the sciences of the mind too, the
time has come when theory and practice must support each other. An
exceedingly large mass of facts has been gathered, the methods have
become refined and differentiated, and however much may still be under
discussion, the ground common to all is ample enough to build upon.

Another important reason for the slowness of practical progress was
probably this. When the psychologists began to work with the new
experimental methods, their most immediate concern was to get rid of
mere speculation and to take hold of actual facts. Hence they regarded
the natural sciences as their model, and, together with the
experimental method which distinguishes scientific work, the
characteristic goal of the sciences was accepted too. This scientific
goal is always the attainment of general laws; and so it happened that
in the first decades after the foundation of psychological
laboratories the general laws of the mind absorbed the entire
attention and interest of the investigators. The result of such an
attitude was, that we learned to understand the working of the typical
mind, but that all the individual variations were almost neglected.
When the various individuals differed in their mental behavior, these
differences appeared almost as disturbances which the psychologists
had to eliminate in order to find the general laws which hold for
every mind. The studies were accordingly confined to the general
averages of mental experience, while the variations from such averages
were hardly included in the scientific account. In earlier centuries,
to be sure, the interest of the psychological observers had been given
almost entirely to the rich manifoldness of human characters and
intelligences and talents. In the new period of experimental work,
this interest was taken as an indication of the unscientific fancies
of the earlier age, in which the curious and the anecdotal attracted
the view. The new science which was to seek the laws was to overcome
such popular curiosity. In this sign experimental psychology has
conquered. The fundamental laws of the ideas and of the attention, of
the memory and of the will, of the feeling and of the emotions, have
been elaborated. Yet it slowly became evident that such one-sidedness,
however necessary it may have been at the beginning, would make any
practical application impossible. In practical life we never have to
do with what is common to all human beings, even when we are to
influence large masses; we have to deal with personalities whose
mental life is characterized by particular traits of nationality, or
race, or vocation, or sex, or age, or special interests, or other
features by which they differ from the average mind which the
theoretical psychologist may construct as a type. Still more
frequently we have to act with reference to smaller groups or to
single individuals whose mental physiognomy demands careful
consideration. As long as experimental psychology remained essentially
a science of the mental laws, common to all human beings, an
adjustment to the practical demands of daily life could hardly come in
question. With such general laws we could never have mastered the
concrete situations of society, because we should have had to leave
out of view the fact that there are gifted and ungifted, intelligent
and stupid, sensitive and obtuse, quick and slow, energetic and weak
individuals.

But in recent years a complete change can be traced in our science.
Experiments which refer to these individual differences themselves
have been carried on by means of the psychological laboratory, at
first reluctantly and in tentative forms, but within the last ten
years the movement has made rapid progress. To-day we have a
psychology of individual variations from the point of view of the
psychological laboratory.[1] This development of schemes to compare
the differences between the individuals by the methods of experimental
science was after all the most important advance toward the practical
application of psychology. The study of the individual differences
itself is not applied psychology, but it is the presupposition without
which applied psychology would have remained a phantom.



II

THE DEMANDS OF PRACTICAL LIFE


While in this way the progress of psychology itself and the
development of the psychology of individual differences favored the
growth of applied psychology, there arose at the same time an
increasing demand in the midst of practical life. Especially the
teachers and the physicians, later the lawyers as well, looked for
help from exact psychology. The science of education and instruction
had always had some contact with the science of the mind, as the
pedagogues could never forget that the mental development of the child
has to stand in the centre of educational thought. For a long while
pedagogy was still leaning on a philosophical psychology, after that
old-fashioned study of the soul had been given up in psychological
quarters. At last, in the days of progressive experimental psychology,
the time came when the teachers under the pressure of their new needs
began to inquire how far the modern laboratory could aid them in the
classroom. The pedagogical psychology of memory, of attention, of
will, and of intellect was systematically worked up by men with
practical school interests. We may notice in the movement a slow but
most important shifting. At first the results of theoretical
psychology were simply transplanted into the pedagogical field.
Experiments which were carried on in the interest of pure theoretical
science were made practical use of, but their application remained a
mere chance by-product. Only slowly did the pedagogical problems
themselves begin to determine the experimental investigation. The
methods of laboratory psychology were applied for the solving of those
problems which originated in the school experience, and only when this
point was reached could a truly experimental pedagogy be built on a
psychological foundation. We stand in the midst of this vigorous and
healthy movement, which has had a stimulating effect on theoretical
psychology itself.

We find a similar situation in the sphere of the physician. He could
not pass by the new science of the mind without instinctively feeling
that his medical diagnosis and therapy could be furthered in many
directions by the experimental method. Not only the psychiatrist and
nerve specialist, but in a certain sense every physician had made use
of a certain amount of psychology in his professional work. He had
always had to make clear to himself the mental experiences of the
patient, to study his pain sensations and his feelings of comfort,
his fears and his hopes, his perceptions and his volitions, and to a
certain degree he had always tried to influence the mental life of the
patient, to work on him by suggestion and to help him by stimulating
his mind. But as far as a real description and explanation of such
mental experiences came in question, all remained a dilettantic
semi-psychology which worked with the most trivial conceptions of
popular thinking. The medical men recognized the disproportion between
the exactitude of their anatomical, physiological, and pathological
observation and the superficiality of their self-made psychology. Thus
the desire arose in their own medical circle to harmonize their
psychological means of diagnosis and therapy with the schemes of
modern scientific psychology. The physician who examines the
sensations in a nervous disease, or the intelligence in a mental
disease, or heals by suggestion or hypnotism, tries to apply the
latest discoveries of the psychological laboratory. But here, too, the
same development as in pedagogy can be traced. The physicians at first
made use only of results which had been secured under entirely
different points of view, but later the experiments were subordinated
to the special medical problems. Then the physician was no longer
obliged simply to use what he happened to find among the results of
the theoretical psychologist, but carried on the experiments in the
service of medical problems. The independent status of experimental
medical psychology could be secured only by this development.

In somewhat narrower limits the same may be said as to the problems of
law. A kind of popular psychology was naturally involved whenever
judges or lawyers analyzed the experience on the witness stand or
discussed the motives of crime or the confessions of the criminal or
the social conditions of criminality. But when every day brought new
discoveries in the psychological laboratory, it seemed natural to make
use of the new methods and of the new results in the interest of the
courtroom. The power of observation in the witness, the exactitude of
his memory, the character of his illusions and imagination, his
suggestibility and his feeling, appeared in a new light in view of the
experimental investigations, and the emotions and volitions of the
criminal were understood with a new insight. Here, too, the last step
was taken. Instead of being satisfied with experiments which the
psychologist had made for his own purposes, the students of legal
psychology adjusted experiments to the particular needs of the
courtroom. Investigations were carried on to determine, the fidelity
of testimony or to find methods for the detection of hidden thoughts
and so on. Efforts toward the application of psychology have
accordingly grown up in the fields of pedagogy, medicine, and
jurisprudence, but as these studies naturally do not remain
independent of one another, they all together form the one unified
science of applied psychology.[2]

As soon as the independence of this new science was felt, it was
natural that new demands and new problems should continue to originate
within its own limits. There must be applied psychology wherever the
investigation of mental life can be made serviceable to the tasks of
civilization. Criminal law, education, medicine, certainly do not
constitute the totality of civilized life. It is therefore the duty of
the practical psychologist systematically to examine how far other
purposes of modern society can be advanced by the new methods of
experimental psychology. There is, for instance, already, far-reaching
agreement that the problems of artistic creation, of scientific
observation, of social reform, and many similar endeavors must be
acknowledged as organic parts of applied psychology. Only one group of
purposes is so far surprisingly neglected in the realm of the
psychological laboratory: the purposes of the economic life, the
purposes of commerce and industry, of business and the market in the
widest sense of the word. The question how far applied psychology can
be extended in this direction is the topic of the following
discussions.



III

MEANS AND ENDS


Applied psychology is evidently to be classed with the technical
sciences. It may be considered as psychotechnics, since we must
recognize any science as technical if it teaches us to apply
theoretical knowledge for the furtherance of human purposes. Like all
technical sciences, applied psychology tells us what we ought to do if
we want to reach certain ends; but we ought to realize at the
threshold where the limits of such a technical science lie, as they
are easily overlooked, with resulting confusion. We must understand
that every technical science says only: you must make use of this
means, if you wish to reach this or that particular end. But no
technical science can decide within its limits whether the end itself
is really a desirable one. The technical specialist knows how he ought
to build a bridge or how he ought to pierce a tunnel, presupposing
that the bridge or the tunnel is desired. But whether they are
desirable or not is a question which does not concern the technical
scientist, but which must be considered from economic or political or
other points, of view. Everywhere the engineer must know how to reach
an end, and must leave it to others to settle whether the end in
itself is desirable. Often the end may be a matter of course for every
reasonable being. The extreme case is presented by the applied science
of medicine, where the physician subordinates all his technique to the
end of curing the patient. Yet if we are consistent we must
acknowledge that all his medical knowledge can prescribe to him only
that he proceed in a certain way if the long life of the patient is
acknowledged as a desirable end. The application of anatomy,
physiology, and pathology may just as well be used for the opposite
end of killing a man. Whether it is wise to work toward long life, or
whether it is better to kill people, is again a problem which lies
outside the sphere of the applied sciences. Ethics or social
philosophy or religion have to solve these preliminary' questions. The
physician as such has only to deal with the means which lead toward
that goal.

We must make the same discrimination in the psychotechnical field. The
psychologist may point out the methods by which an involuntary
confession can be secured from a defendant, but whether it is
justifiable to extort involuntary confessions is a problem which does
not concern the psychologist. The lawyers or the legislators must
decide as to the right or wrong, the legality or illegality, of
forcing a man to show his bidden ideas. If such an end is desirable,
the psychotechnical student can determine the right means, and that is
the limit of his office. We ought to keep in mind that the same holds
true for the application of psychology in economic life. Economic
psychotechnics may serve certain ends of commerce and industry, but
whether these ends are the best ones is not a care with which the
psychologist has to be burdened. For instance, the end may be the
selection of the most efficient laborers for particular industries.
The psychologist may develop methods in his laboratory by which this
purpose can be fulfilled. But if some mills prefer another goal,--for
instance, to have not the most efficient but the cheapest possible
laborers,--entirely different means for the selection are necessary.
The psychologist is, therefore, not entangled in the economic
discussions of the day; it is not his concern to decide whether the
policy of the trusts or the policy of the trade-unions or any other
policy for the selection of laborers is the ideal one. He is confined
to the statement; if you wish this end, then you must proceed in this
way; but it is left to you to express your preference among the ends.
Applied psychology can, therefore, speak the language of an exact
science in its own field, independent of economic opinions and
debatable partisan interests. This is necessary limitation, but in
this limitation lies the strength of the new science. The psychologist
may show how a special commodity can be advertised; but whether from a
social point of view it is desirable to reinforce the sale of these
goods is no problem for psychotechnics. If a sociologist insists that
it would be better if not so many useless goods were bought, and that
the aim ought rather to be to protect the buyer than to help the
seller, the psychologist would not object. His interest would only be
to find the right psychological means to lead to this other social
end. He is partisan neither of the salesman nor of the customer,
neither of the capitalist nor of the laborer, he is neither Socialist
nor anti-Socialist, neither high-tariff man nor free-trader. Here,
too, of course, there are certain goals which are acknowledged on all
sides, and which therefore hardly need any discussion, just as in the
case of the physician, where the prolongation of life is practically
acknowledged as a desirable end by every one. But everywhere where the
aim is not perfectly a matter of course, the psychotechnical
specialist fulfills his task only when he is satisfied with
demonstrating that certain psychical means serve a certain end, and
that they ought to be applied as soon as that end is accepted.

The whole system of psychotechnical knowledge might be subdivided
under either of the two aspects. Either we might start from the
various mental processes and ask for what end each mental factor can
be practically useful and important, or we can begin with studying
what significant ends are acknowledged in our society and then we can
seek the various psychological facts which are needed as means for the
realization of these ends. The first way offers many conveniences.
There we should begin with the mental states of attention, memory,
feeling, and so on, and should study how the psychological knowledge
of every one of these mental states can render service in many
different practical fields. The attention, for instance, is important
in the classroom when the teacher tries to secure the attention of the
pupils, but the judge expects the same attention from the jurymen in
the courtroom, the artist seeks to stir up the attention of the
spectator, the advertiser demands the attention of the newspaper
readers. Whoever studies the characteristics of the mental process of
attention may then be able to indicate how in every one of these
unlike cases the attention can be stimulated and retained.
Nevertheless the opposite way which starts from the tasks to be
fulfilled seems more helpful and more fundamentally significant. The
question, then, is what mental processes become important for the
tasks of education, what for the purposes of the courtroom, what for
the hospital, what for the church, what for politics, and so on.

As this whole essay is to be devoted exclusively to the economic
problems, we are obliged to choose the second way; that is, to arrange
applied psychology with reference to its chief ends and not with
reference to the various means. But the same question comes up in the
further subdivision of the material. In the field of economic
psychology, too, we might ask how far the study of attention, or of
perception, or of feeling, or of will, or of memory, and so on, can be
useful for the purposes of the business man. Or here, too, we might
begin with the consideration of the various ends and purposes. The
ends of commerce are different from those of industry, those of
publishing different from those of transportation, those of
agriculture different from those of mining; or, in the field of
commerce, the purposes of the retailer are different from those of the
wholesale merchant. There can be no limit to such subdivisions; each
particular industry has its own aims, and in the same industry a large
variety of tasks are united. We should accordingly be led to an ample
classification of special economic ends with pigeonholes for every
possible kind of business and of labor. The psychologist would have to
find for every one of these ends the right mental means. This would be
the ideal system of economic psychology.

But we are still endlessly far from such a perfect system. Modern
educational psychology and medical psychology have reached a stage at
which an effort for such a complete system might be realized, but
economic psychology is still at too early a stage of development. It
would be entirely artificial to-day to aim at such ideal completeness.
If we were to construct such a complete system of questions, we should
have no answers. In the present stage nothing can be seriously
proposed but the selection of a few central purposes which occur in
every department of business life, and a study of the means to reach
these special ends by the discussion of some typical cases which may
clearly illustrate the methods involved.

From this point of view we select three chief purposes of business
life, purposes which are important in commerce and industry and every
economic endeavor. We ask how we can find the men whose mental
qualities make them best fitted for the work which they have to do;
secondly, under what psychological conditions we can secure the
greatest and most satisfactory output of work from every man; and
finally, how we can produce most completely the influences on human
minds which are desired in the interest of business. In other words,
we ask how to find the best possible man, how to produce the best
possible work, and how to secure the best possible effects.



PART I

THE BEST POSSIBLE MAN



IV

VOCATION AND FITNESS


Instead of lingering over theoretical discussions, we will move
straight on toward our first practical problem. The economic task,
with reference to which we want to demonstrate the new psychotechnic
method, is the selection of those personalities which by their mental
qualities are especially fit for a particular kind of economic work.
This problem is especially useful to show what the new method can do
and what it cannot do. Whether the method is sufficiently developed to
secure full results to-day, or whether they will come to-morrow, is
unimportant. It is clear that the success of to-morrow is to be hoped
for, only if understanding and interest in the problem is already
alive to-day.

When we inquire into the qualities of men, we use the word here in its
widest meaning. It covers, on the one side, the mental dispositions
which may still be quite undeveloped and which may unfold only under
the influence of special conditions in the surroundings; but, on the
other side, it covers the habitual traits of the personality, the
features of the individual temperament and character, of the
intelligence and of the ability, of the collected knowledge and of the
acquired experience. All variations of will and feeling, of perception
and thought, of attention and emotion, of memory and imagination, are
included here. From a purely psychological standpoint, quite
incomparable contents and functions and dispositions of the
personality are thus thrown together, but in practical life we are
accustomed to proceed after this fashion: if a man applies for a
position, he is considered with regard to the totality of his
qualities, and at first nobody cares whether the particular feature is
inherited or acquired, whether it is an individual chance variation or
whether it is common to a larger group, perhaps to all members of a
certain nationality or race. We simply start from the clear fact that
the personalities which enter into the world of affairs present an
unlimited manifoldness of talents and abilities and functions of the
mind. From this manifoldness, it necessarily follows that some are
more, some less, fit for the particular economic task. In view of the
far-reaching division of labor in our modern economic life, it is
impossible to avoid the question how we can select the fit
personalities and reject the unfit ones.

How has modern society prepared itself to settle this social demand?
In case that certain knowledge is indispensable for the work or that
technical abilities must have been acquired, the vocation is
surrounded by examinations. This is true of the lower as well as of
the higher activities. The direct examination is everywhere
supplemented by testimonials covering the previous achievements, by
certificates referring to the previous education, and in frequent
cases by the endeavor to gain a personal impression from the
applicant. But if we take all this together, the total result remains
a social machinery by which perhaps the elimination of the entirely
unfit can be secured. But no one could speak of a really satisfactory
adaptation of the manifold personalities to the economic vocational
tasks. All those examinations and tests and certificates refer
essentially to what can be learned from without, and not to the true
qualities of the mind and the deeper traits. The so-called
impressions, too, are determined by the most secondary and external
factors. Society relies instinctively on the hope that the natural
wishes and interests will push every one to the place for which his
dispositions, talents, and psychophysical gifts prepare him.

In reality this confidence is entirely unfounded. A threefold
difficulty exists. In the first place, young people know very little
about themselves and their abilities. When the day comes on which they
discover their real strong points and their weaknesses, it is often
too late. They have usually been drawn into the current of a
particular vocation, and have given too much energy to the preparation
for a specific achievement to change the whole life-plan once more.
The entire scheme of education gives to the individual little chance
to find himself. A mere interest for one or another subject in school
is influenced by many accidental circumstances, by the personality of
the teacher or the methods of instruction, by suggestions of the
surroundings and by home traditions, and accordingly even such a
preference gives rather a slight final indication of the individual
mental qualities. Moreover, such mere inclinations and interests
cannot determine the true psychological fitness for a vocation. To
choose a crude illustration, a boy may think with passion of the
vocation of a sailor, and yet may be entirely unfit for it, because
his mind lacks the ability to discriminate red and green. He himself
may never have discovered that he is color-blind, but when he is ready
to turn to the sailor's calling, the examination of his
color-sensitiveness which is demanded may have shown the disturbing
mental deficiency. Similar defects may exist in a boy's attention or
memory, judgment or feeling, thought or imagination, suggestibility or
emotion, and they may remain just as undiscovered as the defect of
color-blindness, which is characteristic of four per cent of the male
population. All such deficiencies may be dangerous in particular
callings. But while the vocation of the ship officer is fortunately
protected nowadays by such a special psychological examination, most
other vocations are unguarded against the entrance of the mentally
unfit individuals.

As the boys and girls grow up without recognizing their psychical
weaknesses, the exceptional strength of one or another mental function
too often remains unnoticed by them as well. They may find out when
they are favored with a special talent for art or music or
scholarship, but they hardly ever know that their attention, or their
memory, or their will, or their intellectual apprehension, or their
sensory perceptions, are unusually developed in a particular
direction; yet such an exceptional mental disposition might be the
cause of special success in certain vocations. But we may abstract
from the extremes of abnormal deficiency and abnormal overdevelopment
in particular functions. Between them we find the broad region of the
average minds with their numberless variations, and these variations
are usually quite unknown to their possessors. It is often surprising
to see how the most manifest differences of psychical organization
remain unnoticed by the individuals themselves. Men with a pronounced
visual type of memory and men with a marked acoustical type may live
together without the slightest idea that their contents of
consciousness are fundamentally different from each other. Neither the
children nor their parents nor their teachers burden themselves with
the careful analysis of such actual mental qualities when the choice
of a vocation is before them. They know that a boy who is completely
unmusical must not become a musician, and that the child who cannot
draw at all must not become a painter, just as on physical grounds a
boy with very weak muscles is not fit to become a blacksmith. But as
soon as the subtler differentiation is needed, the judgment of all
concerned seems helpless and the physical characteristics remain
disregarded.

A further reason for the lack of adaptation, and surely a most
important one, lies in the fact that the individual usually knows only
the most external conditions of the vocations from which he chooses.
The most essential requisite for a truly perfect adaptation, namely, a
real analysis of the vocational demands with reference to the
desirable personal qualities, is so far not in existence. The young
people generally see some superficial traits of the careers which seem
to stand open, and, besides, perhaps they notice the great rewards of
the most successful. The inner labor, the inner values, and the inner
difficulties and frictions are too often unknown to those who decide
for a vocation, and they are unable to correlate those essential
factors of the life-calling with all that nature by inheritance, and
society by surroundings and training, have planted and developed in
their minds.

In addition to this ignorance as to one's own mental disposition and
to the lack of understanding of the true mental requirements of the
various social tasks comes finally the abundance of trivial chances
which become decisive in the choice of a vocation. Vocation and
marriage are the two most consequential decisions in life. In the
selection of a husband or a wife, too, the decision is very frequently
made dependent upon the most superficial and trivial motives. Yet the
social philosopher may content himself with the belief that even in
the fugitive love desire a deeper instinct of nature is expressed,
which may at least serve the biological tasks of married life. In the
choice of a vocation, even such a belief in a biological instinct is
impossible. The choice of a vocation, determined by fugitive whims and
chance fancies, by mere imitation, by a hope for quick earnings, by
irresponsible recommendation, or by mere laziness, has no internal
reason or excuse. Illusory ideas as to the prospects of a career,
moreover, often falsify the whole vista; and if we consider all this,
we can hardly be surprised that our total result is in many respects
hardly better than if everything were left entirely to accident. Even
on the height of a mental training to the end of adolescence, we see
how the college graduates are too often led by accidental motives to
the decision whether they shall become lawyers or physicians or
business men, but this superficiality of choice of course appears much
more strongly where the lifework is to be built upon the basis of a
mere elementary or high school education.

The final result corresponds exactly to these conditions. Everywhere,
in all countries and in all vocations, but especially in the economic
careers, we hear the complaint that there is lack of really good men.
Everywhere places are waiting for the right man, while at the same
time we find everywhere an oversupply of mediocre aspirants. This,
however, does not in the least imply that there really are not enough
personalities who might be perfectly fit even for the highest demands
of the vocations; it means only that as a matter of course the result
in the filling of positions cannot be satisfactory, if the placing of
the individuals is carried on without serious regard for the personal
mental qualities. The complaint that there is lack of fit human
material would probably never entirely disappear, as with a better
adjustment of the material, the demands would steadily increase; but
it could at least be predicted with high probability that this lack of
really fit material would not be felt so keenly everywhere if the
really decisive factor for the adjustment of personality and vocation,
namely, the dispositions of the mind, were not so carelessly ignored.

Society, to be sure, has a convenient means of correction. The
individual tries, and when he is doing his work too badly, he loses
his job, he is pushed out from the career which be has chosen, with
the great probability that he will be crushed by the wheels of social
life. It is a rare occurrence for the man who is a failure in his
chosen vocation, and who has been thrown out of it, to happen to come
into the career in which he can make a success. Social statistics show
with an appalling clearness what a burden and what a danger to the
social body is growing from the masses of those who do not succeed and
who by their lack of success become discouraged and embittered. The
social psychologist cannot resist the conviction that every single
one could have found a place in which he could have achieved something
of value for the commonwealth. The laborer, who in spite of his best
efforts shows himself useless and clumsy before one machine, might
perhaps have done satisfactory work in the next mill where the
machines demand another type of mental reaction. His psychical rhythm
and his inner functions would be able to adjust themselves to the
requirements of the one kind of labor and not to those of the other.
Truly the whole social body has had to pay a heavy penalty for not
making even the faintest effort to settle systematically the
fundamental problem of vocational choice, the problem of the psychical
adaptation of the individuality. An improvement would lie equally in
the interest of those who seek positions and those who have positions
to offer. The employers can hope that in all departments better work
will be done as soon as better adapted individuals can be obtained;
and, on the other hand, those who are anxious to make their working
energies effective may expect that the careful selection of individual
mental characters for the various tasks of the world will insure not
only greater success and gain, but above all greater joy in the work,
deeper satisfaction, and more harmonious unfolding of the personality.



V

SCIENTIFIC VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE


Observations of this kind, which refer to the borderland region
between psychology and social politics, are valid for all modern
nations. Yet it is hardly a chance that the first efforts toward a
systematic overcoming of some of these difficulties have been made
with us in America. The barriers between the classes lie lower; here
the choice of a vocation is less determined by tradition; and it
belongs to the creed of political democracy that just as everybody can
be called to the highest elective offices, so everybody ought to be
fit for any vocation in any sphere of life. The wandering from calling
to calling is more frequent in America than anywhere else. To be sure,
this has the advantage that a failure in one vocation does not bring
with it such a serious injury as in Europe, but it contributes much to
the greater danger that any one may jump recklessly and without
preparation into any vocational stream.

It is fresh in every one's mind how during the last decade the
economic conscience of the whole American nation became aroused. Up to
the end of the last century the people had lived with the secure
feeling of possessing a country with inexhaustible treasures. The last
few years brought the reaction, and it became increasingly clear how
irresponsible the national attitude had been, how the richness of the
forests and the mines and the rivers had been recklessly squandered
without any thought of the future. Conservation of the national
possessions suddenly became the battle-cry, and this turned the eye
also to that limitless waste of human material, a waste going on
everywhere in the world, but nowhere more widely than in the United
States. The feeling grew that no waste of valuable possessions is so
reckless as that which results from the distributing of living force
by chance methods instead of examining carefully how work and workmen
can fit one another. While this was the emotional background, two
significant social movements originated in our midst. The two
movements were entirely independent of each other, but from two
different starting-points they worked in one respect toward the same
goal. They are social and economic movements, neither of which at
first had anything directly to do with psychological questions; but
both led to a point where the psychological turn of the problem seemed
unavoidable. Here begins the obligation of the psychologist, and the
possibility of fulfilling this obligation will be the topic of our
discussion concerning the selection of the best man.

These two American movements which we have in mind are the effort to
furnish to pupils leaving the school guidance in their choice of a
vocation, and the nowadays still better known movement toward
scientific management in commerce and industry. The movement toward
vocational guidance is externally still rather modest and confined to
very narrow circles, but it is rapidly spreading and is not without
significant achievements. It started in Boston. There the late Mr.
Parsons once called a meeting of all the boys of his neighborhood who
were to leave the elementary schools at the end of the year. He wanted
to consider with them whether they had reasonable plans for their
future. At the well-attended meeting it became clear that the boys
knew little concerning what they had to expect in practical life, and
Parsons was able to give them, especially in individual discussions,
much helpful information. They knew too little of the characteristic
features of the vocations to which they wanted to devote themselves,
and they had given hardly any attention to the question whether they
had the necessary qualifications for the special work. From this germ
grew a little office which was opened in 1908, in which all Boston
boys and girls at the time when they left school were to receive
individual suggestions with reference to the most reasonable and best
adjusted selection of a calling. There is hardly any doubt that the
remarkable success of this modest beginning was dependent upon the
admirable personality of the late organizer, who recognized the
individual features with unusual tact and acumen. But he himself had
no doubt that such a merely impressionistic method could not satisfy
the demands. He saw that a threefold advance would become necessary.
First, it was essential to analyze the objective relations of the many
hundred kinds of accessible vocations. Their economic, hygienic,
technical, and social elements ought to be examined so that every boy
and girl could receive reliable information as to the demands of the
vocation and as to the prospects and opportunities in it. Secondly, it
would become essential to interest the schools in all these complex
questions of vocational choice, so that, by observation of individual
tendencies and abilities of the pupils, the teachers might furnish
preparatory material for the work of the institute for vocational
guidance. Thirdly,--and this is for us the most important point,--he
saw that the methods had to be elaborated in such a way that the
personal traits and dispositions might be discovered with much
greater exactitude and with much richer detail than was possible
through what a mere call on the vocational counselor could unveil.[3]

It is well known how this Boston bureau has stimulated a number of
American cities to come forward with similar beginnings. The
pedagogical circles have been especially aroused by the movement,
municipal and philanthropic boards have at least approached this group
of problems, two important conferences for vocational guidance have
met in New York, and at various places the question has been discussed
whether or not a vocational counselor might be attached to the schools
in a position similar to that of the school physician. The chief
progress has been made in the direction of collecting reliable data
with reference to the economic and hygienic conditions of the various
vocations, the demand and supply and the scale of wages. In short,
everything connected with the externalities of the vocations has been
carefully analyzed, and sufficient reliable material has been gained,
at least regarding certain local conditions. In the place of
individual advice, we have thus to a certain degree obtained general
economic investigations from which each can gather what he needs. It
seems that sometimes the danger of letting such offices degenerate
into mere agencies for employment has not been avoided, but that is
one of the perils of the first development. The mother institute in
Boston, too, under its new direction emphasizes more the economic and
hygienic side, and has set its centre of gravity in a systematic
effort to propagate understanding of the problems of vocational
guidance and to train professional vocational counselors in systematic
courses, who are then to carry the interest over the land.[4]

The real psychological analysis with which the movement began has,
therefore, been somewhat pushed aside for a while, and the officers of
those institutes declare frankly that they want to return to the
mental problem only after professional psychologists have sufficiently
worked out the specific methods for its mastery. Most counselors seem
to feel instinctively that the core of the whole matter lies in the
psychological examination, but they all agree that for this they must
wait until the psychological laboratories can furnish them with really
reliable means and schemes. Certainly it is very important, for
instance, that boys with weak lungs be kept away from such industrial
vocations as have been shown by the statistics to be dangerous for the
lungs, or that the onrush to vocations be stopped where the statistics
allow it to be foreseen that there will soon be an oversupply of
workers. But, after all, it remains much more decisive for the welfare
of the community, and for the future life happiness of those who leave
the school, that every one turn to those forms of work to which his
psychological traits are adjusted, or at least that he be kept away
from those in which his mental qualities and dispositions would make a
truly successful advance improbable.

The problem accordingly has been handed over from the vocational
counselors to the experimental psychologists, and it is certainly in
the spirit of the modern tendency toward applied psychology that the
psychological laboratories undertake the investigation and withdraw it
from the dilettantic discussion of amateur psychologists or the mere
impressionism of the school-teachers. Even those early beginnings
indicate clearly that the goal can be reached only through exact,
scientific, experimental research, and that the mere naïve
methods--for instance, the filling-out of questionnaires which may be
quite useful in the first approach--cannot be sufficient for a real,
persistent furtherance of economic life and of the masses who seek
their vocations. In order to gain an analysis of the individual,
Parsons made every applicant answer in writing a long series of
questions which referred to his habits and his emotions, his
inclinations and his expectations, his traits and his experiences. The
psychologist, however, can hardly be in doubt that just the mental
qualities which ought to be most important for the vocational
counselor can scarcely be found out by such methods. We have
emphasized before that the ordinary individual knows very little of
his own mental functions: on the whole, he knows them as little as he
knows the muscles which be uses when he talks or walks. Among his
questions Parsons included such ones as: "Are your manners quiet,
noisy, boisterous, deferential, or self-assertive? Are you thoughtful
of the comfort of others? Do you smile naturally and easily, or is
your face ordinarily expressionless? Are you frank, kindly, cordial,
respectful, courteous in word and actions? Do you look people frankly
in the eye? Are your inflections natural, courteous, modest, musical,
or aggressive, conceited, pessimistic, repellent? What are your powers
of attention, observation, memory, reason, imagination, inventiveness,
thoughtfulness, receptiveness, quickness, analytical power,
constructiveness, breadth, grasp? Can you manage people well? Do you
know a fine picture when you see it? Is your will weak, yielding,
vacillating, or firm, strong, stubborn? Do you like to be with people
and do they like to be with you?"--and so on. It is clear that the
replies to questions of this kind can be of psychological value only
when the questioner knows beforehand the mind of the youth, and can
accordingly judge with what degree of understanding, sincerity, and
ability the circular blanks have been filled out. But as the questions
are put for the very purpose of revealing the personality, the entire
effort tends to move in a circle.

To break this circle, it indeed becomes necessary to emancipate one's
self from the method of ordinary self-observation and to replace it by
objective experiment in the psychological laboratory. Experimentation
in such a laboratory stands in no contrast to the method of
introspection. A contrast does exist between self-observation and
observation on children or patients or primitive peoples or animals.
In their case the psychologist observes his material from without. But
in the case of the typical laboratory experiment, everything is
ultimately based on self-observation; only we have to do with the
self-observation under exact conditions which the experimenter is able
to control and to vary at will. Even Parsons sometimes turned to
little experimental inquiries in which he simplified some well-known
methods of the laboratory in order to secure with the most elementary
means a certain objective foundation for his mental analysis. For
instance, he sometimes examined the memory by reading to the boys
graded sentences containing from ten to fifty words and having them
repeat what they remembered, or he measured with a watch the rapidity
of reading and writing, or he determined the sensitiveness for the
discrimination of differences by asking them to make a point with a
pencil in the centres of circles of various sizes. But if such
experimental schemes, even of the simplest form, are in question, it
seems a matter of course that the plan ought to be prescribed by real
scientists who specialize in the psychological field. The
psychologist, for instance, surely cannot agree to a method which
measures the memory by such a method of having spoken sentences
repeated and the quality of the memory faculty naïvely graded
according to the results. He knows too well that there are many
different kinds of memory, and would always determine first which type
of memory functions is to be examined if memory achievements are
needed for a particular calling.

But even with a more exact method of experimenting, such a procedure
would not be sufficient to solve the true problem. A second step would
still be necessary: namely, the adaptation of the experimental result
to the special psychological requirements of the economic activity;
and this again presupposes an independent psychological analysis. Most
of the previous efforts have suffered from the carelessness with which
this second step was ignored, and the special mental requirements were
treated as a matter of course upon which any layman could judge. In
reality they need the most careful psychological analysis, and only if
this is carried out with the means of scientific psychology, can a
study of the abilities of the individual become serviceable to the
demands of the market. Such a psychological disentangling of the
requirements of the callings, in the interest of guidance, is
attempted in the material which the various vocational institutes have
prepared, but it seldom goes beyond commonplaces. We read there, for
instance,[5] for the confectioner: "Boys in this industry must be
clean, quick, and strong. The most important qualities desired are
neatness and adaptability to routine"; or, for the future baker, the
boy "ought to know how to conduct himself and to meet the public"; or
for the future architectural designer, "he must have creative ability,
artistic feeling, and power to sketch"; or for the dressmaker, she
"should have good eyesight and good sense of color, and an ability to
use her hands readily; she should be able to apply herself steadily
and be fairly quick in her movements; neatness of person is also
essential"; or for the stenographer, she must be "possessed of
intelligence, good judgment, and common sense; must have good
eyesight, good hearing, and a good memory; must have quick perception,
and be able to concentrate her attention completely on any matter in
hand." It is evident that all this is extremely far from any
psychological analysis in the terms of science. All taken together, we
may, therefore, say that in the movement for vocational guidance
practically nothing has been done to make modern experimental
psychology serviceable to the new task. But on the one side, it has
shown that this work of the experimental psychologist is the next step
necessary. On the other side, it has become evident that in the
vocation bureaus appropriate social agencies are existing which are
ready to take up the results of such work, and to apply them for the
good of the American youth and of commerce and industry, as soon as
the experimental psychologist has developed the significant methods.



VI

SCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT


Before we discuss some cases of such experimental investigations, we
may glance at that other American movement, the well-known systematic
effort toward scientific management which has often been interpreted
in an expansive literature.[6] Enthusiastic followers have declared it
to be the greatest advance in industry since the introduction of the
mill system and of machinery. Opponents have hastily denounced it as a
mistake, and have insisted that it proved a failure in the factories
in which it has been introduced. A sober examination of the facts soon
demonstrates that the truth lies in the middle. Those followers of
Frederick W. Taylor who have made almost a religion out of his ideas
have certainly often exaggerated the practical applicability of the
new theories, and their actual reforms in the mills have not seldom
shown that the system is still too topheavy; that is, there are too
many higher employees necessary in order to keep the works running on
principles of scientific management. On the other hand, the opposition
which comes from certain quarters,--for instance, from some
trade-unions,--may be disregarded, as it is not directed against the
claim that the efficiency can be heightened, but only against some
social features of the scheme, such as the resulting temporary
reduction of the number of workmen. But nobody can deny that this
revolutionary movement has introduced most valuable suggestions which
the industrial world cannot afford to ignore, and that as soon as
exaggerations are avoided and experience has created a broader
foundation, the principles of the new theory will prove of lasting
value. We shall have to discuss, at a later point, various special
features of the system, especially the highly interesting motion
study. Here we have to deal only with those tendencies of the movement
and with those interests which point toward our present problem, the
mental analysis of the individual employees in order to avoid misfits.

The approach to this problem, indeed, seems unavoidable for the
students of scientific management, as its goal is an organization of
economic work by which the waste of energy will be avoided and the
greatest increase in the efficiency of the industrial enterprise will
be reached. The recognition that this can never be effected by a mere
excessive driving of the workingmen belongs to its very
presuppositions. The illusory means of prolongation of the
working-time and similar devices by which the situation of the
individual deteriorates would be out of the question; on the contrary,
the heightening of the individual's joy in the work and of the
personal satisfaction in one's total life development belongs among
the most important, indirect agencies of the new scheme. This end is
reached by many characteristic changes in the division of labor; also
by a new division between supervisors and workers, by transformations
of the work itself and of the tools and vehicles. But as a by-product
of these efforts the demand necessarily arose for means by which the
fit individuals could be found for special kinds of labor. The more
scientific management introduced changes, by which the individual
achievement often had to become rather complicated and difficult, the
more it became necessary to study the skill and the endurance and the
intelligence of the individual laborers in order to entrust these new
difficult tasks only to the most appropriate men in the factories and
mills. The problem of individual selection accordingly forced itself
on the new efficiency engineers, and they naturally recognized that
the really essential traits and dispositions were the mental ones. In
the most progressive books of the new movement, this need of
emphasizing the selection of workers with reference to their mental
equipment comes to clear expression.

Yet this is very far from a real application of scientific psychology
to the problem at hand. Wherever the question of the selection of the
fit men after psychological principles is mentioned in the literature
of this movement, the language becomes vague, and the same men, who
use the newest scientific knowledge whenever physics or mathematics or
physiology or chemistry are involved, make hardly any attempts to
introduce the results of science when psychology is in question. The
clearest insight into the general situation may be found in the most
recent books by Emerson. He says frankly: "It is psychology, not soil
or climate, that enables man to raise five times as many potatoes per
acre as the average in his own state";[7] or: "In selecting human
assistants such superficialities as education, as physical strength,
even antecedent morality, are not as important as the inner attitudes,
proclivities, character, which after all determine the man or
woman."[8] He also fully recognizes the necessity of securing as early
as possible the psychological essentials. He says: "The type for the
great newspaper is set up by linotype operators. Apprenticeship is
rigorously limited. Some operators can never get beyond the 2500-em
class, others with no more personal effort can set 5000 ems. Do the
employers test out applicants for apprenticeship so as to be sure to
secure boys who will develop into the 5000-em class? They do not: they
select applicants for any near reason except the fundamental important
one of innate fitness."[9] But all this points only to the existence
of the problem, and in reality gives not even a hint for its solution.
The theorists of scientific management seem to think that the most
subtle methods are indispensable for physical measurements, but for
psychological inquiry nothing but a kind of intuition is necessary.
Emerson tells how, for instance, "The competent specialist who has
supplemented natural gifts and good judgment by analysis and synthesis
can perceive attitudes and proclivities even in the very young, much
more readily in those semi-matured, and can with almost infallible
certainty point out, not only what work can be undertaken with fair
hope of success, but also what slight modification or addition and
diminution will more than double the personal power."[10] The true
psychological specialists surely ought to decline this flattering
confidence. Far from the "almost infallible certainty," they can
hardly expect even a moderate amount of success in such directions so
long as specific methods have not been elaborated, and so long as no
way has been shown to make experimental measurements by which such
mere guesswork can be replaced by scientific investigation.

The only modest effort to try a step in this direction toward the
psychological laboratory is recorded by Taylor,[11] who tells of Mr.
S.E. Thompson's work in a bicycle ball factory, where a hundred and
twenty girls were inspecting the balls. They had to place a row of
small polished steel balls on the back of the left hand and while they
were rolled over and over in the crease between two of the fingers
placed together, they were minutely examined in a strong light and the
defective balls were picked out with the aid of a magnet held in the
right hand. The work required the closest attention and concentration.
The girls were working ten and a half hours a day. Mr. Thompson soon
recognized that the quality most needed, beside endurance and
industry, was a quick power of perception accompanied by quick
responsive action. He knew that the psychological laboratory has
developed methods for a very exact measurement of the time needed to
react on an impression with the quickest possible movement; it is
called the reaction time, and is usually measured in thousandths of a
second. He therefore considered it advisable to measure the
reaction-time of the girls, and to eliminate from service all those
who showed a relatively long time between the stimulus and reaction.
This involved laying off many of the most intelligent, hardest-working,
and most trustworthy girls. Yet the effect was the possibility of
shortening the hours and of reducing more and more the number of
workers, with the final outcome that thirty-five girls did the work
formerly done by a hundred and twenty, and that the accuracy of the
work at the higher speed was two thirds greater than at the former
slow speed. This allowed almost a doubling of the wages of the girls
in spite of their shorter working-day, and at the same time a
considerable reduction in the cost of the work for the factory. This
excursion of an efficiency engineer into the psychological laboratory
remained, however; an entirely exceptional case. Moreover, such a
reaction-time measurement did not demand any special development of
new methods or any particular mental analysis, and this exception thus
confirms the rule that the followers of scientific management
principles have recognized the need of psychological inquiries, but
have not done anything worth mentioning to apply the results of really
scientific psychology. Hence the situation is the same as in the field
of vocational guidance. In both cases a vague longing for
psychological analysis and psychological measurement, but in both
cases so far everything has remained on the level of helpless
psychological dilettantism. It stands in striking contrast with the
scientific seriousness with which the economic questions are taken up
in the field of vocational guidance and the physical questions in the
field of scientific management. It is, therefore, evidently the duty
of the experimental psychologists themselves to examine the ground
from the point of view of the psychological laboratory.



VII

THE METHODS OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY


We now see clearly the psychotechnical problem. We have to analyze
definite economic tasks with reference to the mental qualities which
are necessary or desirable for them, and we have to find methods by
which these mental qualities can be tested. We must, indeed, insist on
it that the interests of commerce and industry can be helped only when
both sides, the vocational demands and the personal function, are
examined with equal scientific thoroughness. One aspect alone is
unsatisfactory. It would of course be possible to confine the
examination to the individual mental traits, and then theoretically to
determine for which economic tasks the presence of these qualities
would be useful and for which tasks their absence or their deficiency
would be fatal. Common sense may be sufficient to lead us a few steps
in that direction. For instance, if we find by psychological
examination that an individual is color-blind for red and green
sensations, we may at once conclude, without any real psychological
analysis of the vocations, that he would be unfit for the railroad
service or the naval service, in which red and green signals are of
importance. We may also decide at once that such a boy would be
useless for all artistic work in which the nuances of colors are of
consequence, or as a laborer in certain departments of a dyeing
establishment, and that such a color-blind girl would not do at a
dressmaker's or in a millinery store. But if we come to the question
whether such a color-blind individual may enter into the business of
gardening, in spite of the inability to distinguish the strawberries
in the bed or the red flowers among the green leaves, the first
necessity, after all, would be to find out how far the particular
demands of this vocation make the ability to discriminate color a
prerequisite, and how far psychical substitutions such as a
recognition of the forms and of differences in the light intensity,
may be sufficient for the practical task. Moreover, where not merely
such mental defects, but more subtly shaded variations within normal
limits are involved, it would be superficial, if only the mental
states were examined and not at the same time the mental requirements
of the vocations themselves. The vocation should rather remain the
starting-point. We must at first find out what demands on the mental
system are made by it and we must grade these demands in order to
recognize the more or less important ones, and, especially for the
important ones, we must then seek exact standards with experimental
methods.

Such an experimental investigation may proceed according to either of
two different principles. One way is to take the mental process which
is demanded by the industrial work as an undivided whole. In this case
we have to construct experimental conditions under which this total
activity can be performed in a gradual, measurable way. The psychical
part of the vocational work thus becomes schematized, and is simply
rendered experimentally on a reduced scale. The other way is to
resolve the mental process into its components and to test every
single elementary function in its isolated form. In this latter case
the examination has the advantage of having at its disposal all the
familiar methods of experimental psychology, while in the first case
for every special vocational situation perfectly new experimental
tests must be devised.

Whether the one or the other method is to be preferred must depend
upon the nature of the particular commercial or industrial calling,
and accordingly presupposes a careful analysis of the special
economical processes. It is, indeed, easy to recognize that in certain
industrial activities a series of psychical functions is in question
which all lie side by side and which do not fuse into one united
total process, however much they may influence one another. But for
many industrial tasks just this unity is the essential condition. The
testing of the mental elements would be in such cases as insufficient
as if we were to test a machine with reference to its parts only and
not with reference to its total united performance. Even in this
latter case this unified function does not represent the total
personality: it is always merely a segment of the whole mental life.
We may examine with psychological methods, for instance, the fitness
of an employee for a technical vocation and may test the particular
complex unified combination of attention, imagination and
intelligence, will and memory, which is essential for that special
kind of labor. We may be able to reconstruct the conditions so
completely that we would feel justified in predicting whether the
individual can fulfill that technical task or not; and yet we may
disregard entirely the question whether that man is honest or
dishonest, whether he is pacific or quarrelsome; in short, whether his
mental disposition makes him a desirable member of that industrial
concern under other aspects.

We best recognize the significance of these various methods by
selecting a few concrete cases as illustrations and analyzing them in
detail. But a word of warning may be given beforehand so as to avoid
misunderstandings. These examples do not stand here as reports of
completed investigations, the results of which ought to be accepted as
conclusive parts of the new psychotechnical science; they are not
presented as if the results were to be recommended like a well-tested
machine for practical purposes. Such really completed investigations
do not as yet exist in this field. All that can be offered is modest
pioneer work, and just these inquiries into the mental qualities and
their relations to the industrial vocations have attracted my
attention only very recently, and therefore certainly still demand
long continuations of the experiments in every direction. But we may
hope for satisfactory results the earlier, the more coöperators are
entering the field, and the more such researches are started in other
places and in other institutions. I therefore offer these early
reports at the first stage of my research merely as stimulations, so
as to demonstrate the possibilities.

As an illustration of the method of examining the mental process as a
whole, I propose to discuss the case of the motormen in the electric
railways. As an illustration of the other type, namely, of analyzing
the activity and testing the elementary functions, I shall discuss the
case of the employees in the telephone service. I select these two
functions, as both play a practically important rôle in the technique
of modern economic life and as in both occupations very large numbers
of individuals are engaged in the work.



VIII

EXPERIMENTS IN THE INTEREST OF ELECTRIC RAILWAY SERVICE


The problem of securing fit motormen for the electric railways was
brought to my attention from without. The accidents which occurred
through the fault, or at least not without the fault, of the motormen
in street railway transportation have always aroused disquietude and
even indignation in the public, and the street railway companies
suffered much from the many payments of indemnity imposed by the court
as they amounted to thirteen per cent of the gross earnings of some
companies. Last winter the American Association for Labor Legislation
called a meeting of vocational specialists to discuss the problem of
these accidents under various aspects. The street railways of various
cities were represented, and economic, physiological, and
psychological specialists took part in the general discussion. Much
attention was given, of course, to the questions of fatigue and to the
statistical results as to the number of accidents and their relation
to the various hours of the day and to the time of labor. But there
was a strong tendency to recognize as still more important than the
mere fatigue, the whole mental constitution of the motormen. The
ability to keep attention constant, to resist distraction by chance
happenings on the street and especially the always needed ability to
foresee the possible movements of the pedestrians and vehicles were
acknowledged as extremely different from man to man. The companies
claimed that there are motormen who practically never have an
accident, because they feel beforehand even what the confused
pedestrian and the unskilled chauffeur will do, while others
relatively often experience accidents of all kinds because they do not
foresee how matters will develop. They can hardly be blamed, as they
were not careless, and yet the accidents did result from their
personal qualities; they simply lacked the gift of instinctive
foresight. All this turned the attention more and more to the
possibilities of psychological analysis, and the Association suggested
that I undertake an inquiry into this interesting problem with the
means of the psychological laboratory. I felt the practical importance
of the problem, considering that there are electric railway companies
in this country which have up to fifty thousand accident indemnity
cases a year. It therefore seemed to me decidedly worth while to
undertake a laboratory investigation.

It would have been quite possible to treat the functions of the
motormen according to the method which resolves the complex
achievement into its various elements and tests every function
independently. For instance, the stopping of the car as soon as the
danger of an accident threatens is evidently effective only if the
movement controlling the lever is carried out with sufficient
rapidity. We should accordingly be justified in examining the
quickness with which the individual reacts on optical stimuli. If a
playing child suddenly runs across the track of the electric railway,
a difference of a tenth of a second in the reaction-time may decide
his fate. But I may say at once that I did not find characteristic
differences in the rapidity of reaction of those motormen whom the
company had found reliable and those who have frequent accidents. It
seems that the slow individuals do not remain in the service at all.
As a matter of course certain other indispensable single functions,
like sharpness of vision are examined before the entrance into the
service and so they cannot stand as characteristic conditions of good
or bad service among the actual employees.

For this reason, in the case of the motormen I abstracted from the
study of single elementary functions and turned my attention to that
mental process which after some careful observations seemed to me the
really central one for the problem of accidents. I found this to be a
particular complicated act of attention by which the manifoldness of
objects, the pedestrians, the carriages, and the automobiles, are
continuously observed with reference to their rapidity and direction
in the quickly changing panorama of the street. Moving figures come
from the right and from the left toward and across the track, and are
embedded in a stream of men and vehicles which moves parallel to the
track. In the face of such manifoldness there are men whose impulses
are almost inhibited and who instinctively desire to wait for the
movement of the nearest objects; they would evidently be unfit for the
service, as they would drive the electric car far too slowly. There
are others who, even with the car at high speed, can adjust themselves
for a time to the complex moving situation, but whose attention soon
lapses, and while they are fixating a rather distant carriage, may
overlook a pedestrian who carelessly crosses the track immediately in
front of their car. In short, we have a great variety of mental types
of this characteristic unified activity, which may be understood as a
particular combination of attention and imagination.

My effort was to transplant this activity of the motormen into
laboratory processes. And here I may include a remark on the
methodology of psychological industrial experiments. One might
naturally think that the experience of a special industrial
undertaking would be best reproduced for the experiment by repeating
the external conditions in a kind of miniature form. That would mean
that we ought to test the motormen of the electric railway by
experiments with small toy models of electric cars placed on the
laboratory table. But this would be decidedly inappropriate. A reduced
copy of an external apparatus may arouse ideas, feelings, and
volitions which have little in common with the processes of actual
life. The presupposition would be that the man to be tested for any
industrial achievement would have to think himself into the miniature
situation, and especially uneducated persons are often very
unsuccessful in such efforts. This can be clearly seen from the
experiences before naval courts, where it is usual to demonstrate
collisions of ships by small ship models on the table in the
courtroom. Experience has frequently shown that helmsmen, who have
found their course a life long among real vessels in the harbor and on
the sea, become entirely confused when they are to demonstrate by the
models the relative positions of the ships. Even in the naval war
schools where the officers play at war with small model ships, a
certain inner readjustment is always necessary for them to bring the
miniature ships on the large table into the tactical game. On the
water, for instance, the navy officer sees the far-distant ships very
much smaller than those near by, while on the naval game table all the
ships look equally large. On the whole, I feel inclined to say from my
experience so far that experiments with small models of the actual
industrial mechanism are hardly appropriate for investigations in the
field of economic psychology. The essential point for the
psychological experiment is not the external similarity of the
apparatus, but exclusively the inner similarity of the mental
attitude. The more the external mechanism with which or on which the
action is carried out becomes schematized, the more the action itself
will appear in its true character.

In the method of my experiments with the motormen, accordingly, I had
to satisfy only two demands. The method of examination promised to be
valuable if, first, it showed good results with reliable motormen and
bad results with unreliable ones; and secondly, if it vividly aroused
in all the motormen the feeling that the mental function which they
were going through during the experiment had the greatest possible
similarity with their experience on the front platform of the
electric car. These are the true tests of a desirable experimental
method, while it is not necessary that the apparatus be similar to the
electric car or that the external activities in the experiment be
identical with their performance in the service. After several
unsatisfactory efforts, in which I worked with too complicated
instruments, I finally settled on the following arrangement of the
experiment which seems to me to satisfy those two demands.

The street is represented by a card 9 half-inches broad and 26
half-inches long. Two heavy lines half an inch apart go lengthwise
through the centre of the card, and accordingly a space of 4
half-inches remains on either side. The whole card is divided into
small half-inch squares which we consider as the unit. Thus there is
in any cross-section 1 unit between the two central lines and 4 units
on either side. Lengthwise there are 26 units. The 26 squares which
lie between the two heavy central lines are marked with the printed
letters of the alphabet from A to Z. These two heavy central lines are
to represent an electric railway track on a street. On either side the
4 rows of squares are filled in an irregular way with black and red
figures of the three first digits. The digit 1 always represents a
pedestrian who moves just one step, and that means from one unit into
the next; the digit 2 a horse, which moves twice as fast, that is,
which moves 2 units; and the digit 3 an automobile which moves three
times as fast, that is, 3 units. Moreover, the black digits stand for
men, horses, and automobiles which move parallel to the track and
cannot cross the track, and are therefore to be disregarded in looking
out for dangers. The red digits, on the other hand, are the dangerous
ones. They move from either side toward the track. The idea is that
the man to be experimented on is to find as quickly as possible those
points on the track which are threatened by the red figures, that is,
those letters in the 26 track units at which the red figures would
land, if they make the steps which their number indicates. A red digit
3 which is 4 steps from the track is to be disregarded, because it
would not reach the track. A red digit 3 which is only 1 or 2 steps
from the track is also to be disregarded, because it would cross
beyond the track, if it took 3 steps. But a red 3 which is 3 units
from the track, a red 2 which is 2 units from the track, and a red 1
which is 1 unit from the track would land on the track itself; and the
aim is quickly to find these points. The task is difficult, as the
many black figures divert the attention, and as the red figures too
near or too far are easily confused with those which are just at the
dangerous distance.

As soon as this principle for the experiment was recognized as
satisfactory, it was necessary to find a technical device by which a
movement over this artificial track could be produced in such a way
that the rapidity could be controlled by the subject of the experiment
and at the same time measured. Again we had to try various forms of
apparatus. Finally we found the following form most satisfactory.
Twelve such cards, each provided with a handle, lie one above another
under a glass plate through which the upper card can be seen. If this
highest card is withdrawn; the second is exposed, and from below
springs press the remaining cards against the glass plate. The glass
plate with the 12 cards below lies in a black wooden box and is
completely covered by a belt 8 inches broad, made of heavy black
velvet. This velvet belt moves over two cylinders at the front and the
rear ends of the apparatus. In the centre of the belt is a window
4-1/2 inches wide and 2-1/2 inches high. If the front cylinder is
turned by a metal crank, the velvet belt passes over the glass plate
and the little window opening moves over the card with its track and
figures. The whole breadth of the card, with its central track and its
4 units on either side, is visible through it over an area of 5 units
in the length direction. If the man to be experimented on turns the
crank with his right hand, the window slips over the whole length of
the card, one part of the card after another becomes visible, and then
he simply has to call the letters of those units in the track at which
the red figures on either side would land, if they took the number of
steps indicated by the digit. At the moment the window has reached Z
on the card, the experimenter withdraws that card and the next becomes
visible, as a second window in the belt appears at the lower end when
the first disappears at the upper end. In this way the subject can
turn his crank uninterruptedly until he has gone through the 12 cards.
The experimenter notes down the numbers of the cards and the letters
which the subject calls. Besides this, the number of seconds required
for the whole experiment, from the beginning of the first card to the
end of the twelfth, is measured with a stopwatch. This time is, of
course, dependent upon the rapidity with which the crank is turned.
The result of the experiment is accordingly expressed by three
figures, the number of seconds, the number of omissions, that is, of
places at which red figures would land on the track which were not
noticed by the subject; and, thirdly, the number of incorrect places
where letters were called in spite of the fact, that no danger
existed. In using the results, we may disregard this third figure and
give our attention to the speed and the number of omissions.

The necessary condition for carrying out the experiments with this
apparatus is a careful, quiet, practical explanation of the device.
The experiment must not under any circumstances be started until the
subject completely understands what he has to do and for what he has
to look out. For this purpose I at first always show the man one card
outside of the apparatus and explain to him the differences between
the black and the red figures, and the counting of the steps, and show
to him in a number of cases how some red figures do not reach the
track, how others go beyond the track, and how some just land in
danger on the track. As soon as he has completely understood the
principle, we turn to the apparatus and he moves the window slowly
over a test card, and tries to find the dangerous spots, and I turn
his attention to every case in which he has omitted one or has given
an incorrect letter. We repeat this slowly until he completely masters
the rules of the game. Only then is he allowed to start the
experiment. I have never found a man with whom this preparation takes
more than a few minutes.

After developing this method in the psychological laboratory, I
turned to the study of men actually in the service of a great electric
railway company which supported my endeavors in the most cordial
spirit. In accordance with my request, the company furnished me with a
number of the best motormen in its service, men who for twenty years
and more had performed their duties practically without accidents,
and, on the other hand, with a large number of motormen who had only
just escaped dismissal and whose record was characterized by many more
or less important collisions or other accidents. Finally, we had men
whose activity as motormen was neither especially good nor especially
bad.

The test of the method lies first in the fact that the tried motormen
agreed that they really pass through the experiment with the feeling
which they have on their car. The necessity of looking out in both
directions, right and left, for possible obstacles, of distinguishing
those which move toward the track from the many which move along the
track, the quick discrimination among the various rates of rapidity,
the steady forward movement of the observation point, the constant
temptation to give attention to those which are still too far away or
to those which are so near that they will cross the track before the
approach of the car, in short, the whole complex situation with its
demands on attention, imagination, and quick adjustment, soon brings
them into an attitude which they themselves feel as identical with
that in practical life. On the other hand, the results show a
far-reaching correspondence between efficiency in the experiment and
efficiency in the actual service. With a relatively small number of
experiments this correspondence cannot be expected to be complete, the
more as a large number of secondary features must enter which
interfere with an exact correlation between experiment and standing in
the railway company. We must consider, for instance, that those men
whom the company naturally selects as models are men who have had
twenty to thirty years of service without accidents, but consequently
they are rather old men, who no longer have the elasticity of youth
and are naturally less able to think themselves into an artificial
situation like that of such an experiment, and who have been for a
long time removed from contact with book work. It is therefore not
surprising, but only to be expected, that such older, model men, while
doing fair work in the test, are yet not seldom far surpassed by
bright, quick, young motormen who are twenty years younger, even
though they are not yet ideal motormen. Moreover, the standing in the
company often depends upon features which have nothing to do with the
mental make-up of the man, while the experiment has to be confined to
these mental conditions which favor accidents. It is quite possible
that a man may happen to experience a slight collision, even though no
conditions for the accident were lying in his mental make-up. But we
may go still further. The experiment refers to those sides of his mind
which make him able to foresee the danger points, and that is
decidedly the most essential factor and the one from which most can be
hoped for the safety of the public. But this does not exclude the
possibility that some other mental traits may become causes of
accidents. The man may be too daring and may like to run risks, or he
may still need discipline, or he may not be sufficiently acquainted
with the local conditions. Any such secondary factors may cause some
slight accidents with the man who shows rather fair results in the
experimental test of his foresight. Finally, we must not forget that
some men enter into such tests under a certain nervous tension and
therefore may not show so well at the very first test as their mental
equipment should allow. Hence it is decidedly desirable not to rely on
the first test, but to repeat it. If those various interferences are
taken into account, the correspondence between efficiency and the
results of the tests is fairly satisfactory. It justified me in
proposing that the experiments be continued and in regarding it as
quite possible that later tests on the basis of this principle may be
introduced at the employment of motormen.

A difficulty is presented by the valuation of the numerical results.
The mere number of omissions alone cannot be decisive, as it is clear
that no intelligent man would make any omissions if he should give an
unlimited amount of time to it; for instance, if he were to spend
fifteen minutes on those 12 cards. But this is the same thing as to
say that a motorman would not run over any one if he were to drive his
car one mile in an hour. The practical problem is to combine the
greatest possible speed with the smallest number of oversights and
both factors must therefore be considered. The subject who makes
relatively many mistakes but uses a very short time must be
acknowledged to be as good as the man who makes fewer mistakes but
takes a longer time. In the results which I have gathered in
experiments with motormen, no one has gone through those 12 cards in a
shorter time than 140 seconds, while the longest time was 427 seconds.
On the other hand, no one of the motormen made less than 4 omissions,
while the worst ones made 28 omissions. I abstract from one extreme
case with 36 omissions. On the whole, we may say that the time
fluctuates between 180 and 420, the mistakes between 4 and 28. The aim
is to find a formula which gives full value to both factors and makes
the material directly comparable in the form of one numerical value
instead of the two. If we were simply to add the number of seconds and
the number of omissions, the omissions would count far too little,
inasmuch as 10 additional omissions would then mean no more than 10
additional seconds. On the other hand, if we were to multiply the two
figures the omissions would mean by far too much, as the transition
from 4 mistakes to 8 mistakes would then be as great a change as the
transition from 200 to 400 seconds, that is, from the one extreme of
time to the other. Evidently we balance both factors if we multiply
the number of omissions by 10 and add them to the number of seconds.
The variations between 4 and 28 omissions are 24 steps, which
multiplied by 10 correspond to the 240 steps which lie between 180 and
420 seconds. On that basis any additional 50 seconds would be equal to
5 additional omissions. If of two men one takes 100 seconds less than
his neighbor, he is equal to him in his ability to satisfy the demands
of the service, if he makes 10 mistakes more.

On the basis of this calculation I find that the old, well-trained
motormen come to a result of about 450, and I should consider that an
average standard. This would mean that a man who uses 400 seconds
would not be allowed to make more than 5 omissions, in 350 seconds not
more than 10, in 300 not more than 15, in 250 not more than 20, under
the condition that these are the results of the first set of
experiments. Where there are more than 20 omissions made, mere
quickness ought not to be allowed as a substitute. The man who takes
150 seconds and makes 30 mistakes would come up to the same standard
level of 450. Yet his characteristics would probably not serve the
interests of the service. He would speed up his car and would make
better time than any one else, but would be liable to accidents. I
should consider 20 mistakes with a time not longer than 250 as the
permissible maximum. Among the younger motormen whom I examined, the
best result was 290, in which 270 seconds were used and only 2
omissions made. Results below 350 may be considered as very good. One
man, for instance, carried out the experiment in 237 seconds with 11
mistakes, which gives the result 347. From 350 to 450 may be counted
as fair, 450 to 550 as mediocre, and over 550 as very poor. In the
case of old men, who may be expected to adjust themselves less easily
to artificial experiments, the limits may be shifted. If the
experiments are made repeatedly, the valuation of the results must be
changed accordingly. The training of the men in literary and
mathematical work or in experimentation may be considered, as our
experiments have shown that highly educated young people with long
training in experimental observations can pass through the test much
more quickly than any one of the motormen could. Among the most
advanced graduate students who do research work in my Harvard
laboratory there was no one whose result was more than 275, while, as
I said, among all the motormen there was no one whose result was less
than 290. The best result reached was by a student who passed through
the test in 223 seconds with only 1 mistake, the total therefore being
233. Next came a student who did it in 215 seconds with 3 mistakes,
total, 245; then in 228 seconds with 2 omissions, total, 248, and so
on.

I recapitulate: With men on the educational level and at the age that
comes in question for their first appointment in the service of an
electric railway company, the test proposed ought to be applied
according to this scheme. If they make more than 20 mistakes, they
ought to be excluded; if they make less than 20 mistakes, the number
of omissions is to be multiplied by 10 and added to the number of
seconds. If the sum is less than 350, their mental fitness for the
avoidance of accidents is very high, between 350 and 450 fair, and
more than 550 not acceptable under any conditions. I submit this,
however, with the emphasis on my previous statement that the
investigation is still in its first stage, and that it will need a
long coöperation between science and industry in order to determine
the desirable modifications and special conditions which may become
necessary in making the employment of men partly dependent upon such
psychological tests. There can be no doubt that the experiments could
be improved in many directions. But even in this first, not adequately
tested, form, an experimental investigation of this kind which demands
from each individual hardly 10 minutes would be sufficient to exclude
perhaps one fourth of those who are nowadays accepted into the service
as motormen. This 25 per cent of the applicants do not deserve any
blame. In many other occupations they might render excellent service;
they are neither careless nor reckless, and they do not act against
instructions, but their psychical mechanism makes them unfit for that
particular combination of attention and imagination which ought to be
demanded for the special task of the motorman. If the many thousands
of injury and the many hundreds of death cases could be reduced by
such a test at least to a half, then the conditions of transportation
would have been improved more than by any alterations in the technical
apparatus, which usually are the only objects of interest in the
discussion of specialists. The whole world of industry will have to
learn the great lesson, that of the three great factors, material,
machine, and man, the man is not the least, but the most important.



IX

EXPERIMENTS IN THE INTEREST OF SHIP SERVICE


Where the avoidance of accidents is in question, the test of a special
experimental method can seldom be made dependent upon a comparison
with practical results, as we do not want to wait until the candidate
has brought human life into danger. The ordinary way of reaching the
goal must therefore be an indirect one in such cases. For the study of
motormen the conditions are exceptionally favorable, as hundreds of
thousands of accidents occur every year, but another practical example
may be chosen from a field where it is, indeed, impossible to
correlate the results with actual misfortunes, because the dangerous
situations occur seldom; and nevertheless on account of their
importance they demand most serious study. I refer to the ship
service, where the officer on the bridge may bring thousands into
danger by one single slip of his mind. I turn to this as a further
concrete illustration in order to characterize at once the lengths to
which such vocational studies may advance.

One of the largest ship companies had approached me--long before the
disaster of the Titanic occurred--with the question whether it would
not be possible to find psychological methods for the elimination of
such ship officers as would not be able to face an unexpected suddenly
occurring complication. The director of the company wrote to me that
in his experience the real danger for the great ships lies in the
mental dispositions of the officers. They all know exactly what is to
be done in every situation, but there are too many who do not react in
the appropriate way when an unexpected combination of factors suddenly
confronts them, such as the quick approach of a ship in the fog. He
claimed that two different types ought to be excluded. There are ship
officers who know the requirements excellently, but who are almost
paralyzed when the dangerous conditions suddenly threaten. Their
ability for action is inhibited. In one moment they want to act under
the stimulus of one impression, but before the impulse is realized,
some other perhaps rather indifferent impression forces itself on
their minds and suggests the counteraction, and in this way they
vacillate and remain inactive until it is too late to give the right
order or to press the right button. The other type feels only the
necessity for rapid action, and under the pressure of greatest haste,
without clear thought, they jump to the first decision which rushes
to their minds. Without carefully considering the conditions really
given, they explode in an action which they would never have chosen in
a state of quiet deliberation. They react on any accidental
circumstance, just as at a fire men sometimes carry out and save the
most useless parts of their belongings. Of course, beside these two
types, there is the third type, the desirable one, the men who in the
unexpected situation quickly review the totality of the factors in
their relative importance and with almost instinctive certainty
immediately come to the same decision to which they would have arrived
after quiet thought. The director of the company insisted that it
would be of highest importance for the ship service to discriminate
these three types of human beings, and to make sure that there stand
on the bridge of the ship only men who do not belong to those two
dangerous classes. He turned to me with this request, as he had heard
of the work toward economic psychology in the Harvard laboratory.

As the problem interested me, I carried on a long series of
experiments in order to construct artificial conditions under which
the mental process of decision in a complicated situation, especially
the rapidity, correctness, and constancy of the decision, could be
made measurable. I started from the conviction that this complex act
of decision must stand in definite relation to a number of simpler
mental functions. If, for instance, it stood in a clear definite
relation to the process of association, or discrimination, or
suggestibility, or perception, or memory, and so on, it would be
rather easy to foresee the behavior of the individual in the act of
decision, as every one of those other simple mental functions could be
tested by routine methods of the psychological laboratory. This
consideration led me to propose ramified investigations concerning the
psychology of decision in its relation to the elementary mental
processes. These studies by students of the laboratory are not yet
completed. But I soon saw that they would be unfit for the solution of
my practical problem, as we recognized that these relations between
the complex act of decision and the elementary functions of the
individual seem to have different form with different types of
men.[12] If I was to approach the solution of the practical problem,
accordingly, I had to reproduce in an experimental form the act of
decision under complex conditions.

It seemed necessary to create a situation in which a number of
quantitatively measurable factors were combined without any one of
them forcing itself to consciousness as the most important. The
subject to be experimented on then has to decide as quickly as
possible which of the factors is the relatively strongest one. As
usual, here, too, I began with rather complicated material and only
slowly did I simplify the apparatus until it finally took an entirely
inconspicuous form. But this is surely the most desirable outcome for
testing methods which are to be applied to large numbers of persons.
Complicated instruments, for the handling of which special training is
needed, are never so useful for practical purposes as the simple
schemes which can be easily applied. The form of which I finally made
use is the following. I work with 24 cards of the size of
playing-cards. On the upper half of every one of these cards we have 4
rows of 12 capital letters, namely, A, E, O, and U in irregular
repetition. On 4 cards, one of these vowels appears 21 times and each
of the three others 9 times; on 8 cards, one appears 18 times and
every one of the three others 10 times; on 8 cards, one appears 15
times and each of the others 11 times; and finally, on 4 cards one
vowel appears 16 times, each of the three others 8 times, and besides
them 8 different consonants are mixed in. The person to be tested has
to distribute these 24 cards as quickly as possible in 4 piles, in
such a way that in the first pile are placed all cards in which the
letter A is most frequent, in the second those in which the letter E
predominates, and so on. As a matter of course the result must never
be secured by counting the letters. Any attempt to act against this
prescription and secretly to begin counting would moreover delay the
decision so long that the final result would be an unsatisfactory
achievement anyhow. It would accordingly bring no advantage to the
candidate.

We measure with a stopwatch in fifths of a second the time for the
whole process from the subject's looking at the first card to his
laying down of the last card, and, secondly, we record the number and
the character of his mistakes, if cards are put into wrong piles. I
have made the experiment with very many persons, and results show that
those various mental traits which have been observed in the practical
ship service come clearly to light under the conditions of this
experiment. Some of the persons lose their heads entirely, and for
many of them it is a painful activity for which they require a long
time. Even if the number of mistakes is not considerable, they
themselves have the feeling that they are not coming to a satisfactory
decision, because their attention is pulled hither and thither so that
they feel an inner mental paralysis. Some chance letters stand out and
appear to them to be predominant, but in the next moment the attention
is captured by some other letters which bring the suggestion that
they are in the majority and that they present the most important
factor. The outcome is that inner state of indecision which can become
so fatal in practical life. Other subjects distribute the cards in
piles at a relatively high speed, and they do it with the subjective
feeling that they have indeed recognized at the first glance the
predominant group of letters. The exact measurement of the results,
however, shows that they commit many errors which would have been
improbable after quiet consideration. Any small group of letters which
catches their eye makes on them, under the pressure of their haste,
such a strong impression that all the other letters are inhibited for
the moment and the wrong decision is quickly made. Finally, we find a
group of persons who carry out the experiment rather quickly and at
the same time with few mistakes. It is characteristic of them to pass
through it with the feeling that it is an agreeable and stimulating
mental activity. In all cases the subjects feel themselves under the
unified impression which results from all those 48 letters of the card
together; and this is the reason why the qualitative manifoldness of a
practical life situation can be compared with these intermingled,
quantitatively determined groups of letters.

If I consider the general results of these experiments only with
reference to the time-measurement, I should say that a person who
completes the distribution of the cards in less than 80 seconds is
quick in his decisions; from 80 to 150, moderately quick; from 150 to
250, slow and deliberate and rather too deliberate for situations
which demand quick action; over 250 seconds, he would belong among
those wavering persons who hesitate too long in a life situation which
demands decision. The time which is needed for the mere distribution
of the cards themselves plays a very small rôle compared with the time
of the whole process, and can be neglected. In order to determine
this, I asked all the subjects before they made the real experiment to
distribute 24 other cards in 4 piles, on each of which one of the four
letters, A, E, O, and U was printed only once. Hence no comparison of
various factors was involved in this form of distribution. The average
time for this ordinary sorting was about 20 seconds. Only rather quick
individuals carried it out in less than 18 and only very slow ones
needed more than 25 seconds. This maximum variation of 10 seconds is
evidently insignificant, as the variations in the experiment amount to
more than 200 seconds. But it is very characteristic that the results
of the two experiments do not move parallel. Some persons, who are
able to sort the cards on which only one of the 4 letters is printed
very quickly, are rather slow when they sort the cards with the 48
letters for which the essential factor is the act of comparison. In
the first case the training in card-playing also seems to have a
certain influence, but in the second case, our real experiment on
decision, this influence does not seem to exist.

We have emphasized from the start that it is no less important to give
consideration to the number of mistakes. A mere rapidity of
distribution with many mistakes characterizes, as we saw, a mental
system which is just as unfit for practical purposes as one which acts
with too great slowness. But it would not have been sufficient simply
to ask how many cards were put into wrong piles. The special
arrangement of the cards with four different types of combinations was
introduced for the purpose of discriminating among mistakes of unequal
seriousness. When one letter appeared 21 times and the three others
only 9 times, it was surely much easier to make the decision than when
the predominant letter appeared only 15 times and the other three each
11 times. The easier the right decision, the graver the mistake. Of
course the valuation of these mistakes must be rather arbitrary. We
decided to value as 4 every mistake in these cards on which the
predominant letter appears 21 times; as 3, a mistake in the 18 letter
cards; as 2, a mistake in the 16 letter cards; and as 1, a mistake in
the most difficult ones, the 15 letter cards. If the mistakes are
calculated on this basis and are added together, a sum below 5 may
indicate a very safe and perfectly reliable ability for decision; 5 to
12, satisfactory; 12 to 20, uncertain; and over 20, very poor. In
order to take account of both factors, time and mistakes, we multiply
the sum of the calculated mistakes by the number of seconds. If the
product of these two figures is less than 400, it may be taken as a
sign of perfect reliability in making very quick, correct decisions,
in complex life situations; 400 to 1000 indicates the limits between
which the ability for such decisions may be considered as normal and
very satisfactory; 1000 to 2000, not good but still adequate; 2000 to
3000, unreliable, and over 3000, practically absent. It is clear that
the real proof of the value of this method cannot be offered. This is
just the reason why we selected this illustration as an example of the
particular difficulty. Wrong decisions, that is, cases in which the
man on the bridge waits too long before he makes his decision and thus
causes a collision of ships by his delay, or in which he rushes
blindly to a decision which he himself would have condemned after
quiet deliberation, are rare. It would be impossible to group such
men together for the purpose of the experiment and to compare their
results with those of model captains, the more as experience has shown
that an officer may have a stainless record for many years and yet may
finally make a wrong decision which shows his faulty disposition. The
test of the method must therefore be a somewhat indirect one. My aim
was to compare the results of the experiments with the experiences of
the various individuals which they themselves reported concerning
their decisions in unexpected complicated situations, and moreover
with the judgments of their friends whom I asked to describe what they
would expect from the subjects under such conditions. The personal
differences in these respects are extremely great, and are also
evident in the midst of small groups of persons who may have great
similarity in their education and training and in many other aspects
of their lives.

Among the most advanced students of my research laboratory, for
instance, all of whom have rather similar schooling and practically
the same training in experimental work, the product of mistakes and
seconds varied between 348 and 13,335. That smallest value occurred in
a case in which the time was 116 seconds and the sum of the mistakes
only 3, inasmuch as 3 cards of the most difficult group where the
predominating letter occurred only 15 times were put in the wrong
piles. The shortest time among my laboratory students was 58 seconds,
but with this individual the sum of the mistakes, calculated on the
basis of the valuation agreed upon, was 13. The largest figure
mentioned resulted in a case in which the student needed 381 seconds
and yet made mistakes the sum of which amounted to 35. It is
characteristic that the person with the smallest product felt a
distinct joy in the experiment, while the one with the largest passed
through painful minutes which put him to real organic discomfort. If
we arrange the men simply in the order of these products, of course we
cannot recognize the various groups, as those who are quick but make
mistakes and those who make few mistakes but act slowly may be
represented by the same products. The coincidence of the results with
the self-characterization is frequently quite surprising. Every one
has at some time come into unexpected, suddenly arising situations and
many have received in such moments a very vivid impression of their
own mental reaction. They know quite well that they could not come to
a decision quickly enough, or that they rushed hastily to a wrong
decision, or that in just such instants a feeling of repose and
security came over them and that with sure instinct they turned in
the direction which they would have chosen after mature thought. The
results of the experiments in sorting the cards confirmed this
self-observation in such frequent cases that it may indeed be hoped
that a more extended test of this method will prove its practical
usefulness. It is clear that the field is a wide one, as these
different types of mental dispositions must be of consequence not only
in the ship service, but also to a certain degree in the railroad
service and in many other industrial tasks.

We have emphasized from the start that as a matter of course such a
tested function, while it is taken in its complex unity, is
nevertheless not the only psychophysical disposition of significance.
This is as true for the ship officer as it was for the motorman of the
electric car. If we were to study all the mental dispositions
necessary or desirable for the ship officer, we should find many other
qualities which are accessible to the psychological investigation. The
captain of the ship, for instance, is expected to recognize the
direction of a vessel passing in the fog by the signals of the
foghorn. But so far no one has given any attention to the
psychological conditions of localization of sound, which were for a
long while a much-studied problem of our psychological laboratories.
We know how this localization is dependent upon the comparison of the
two ears and what particular mistakes occur from the different
sensibility of the two ears. Yet there are to-day men on the bridges
of the ships who hear much better with one ear than with the other,
but who still naïvely believe that, as they hear everything very
distinctly with one ear, this normal ear is also sufficient for
recognizing the direction of the sound. It is the same mistake which
we frequently see among laborers whose vision has become defective in
one of their eyes, or one of whose eyes is temporarily bandaged. They
are convinced that the one good eye is sufficient for their industrial
task, because they are able to recognize everything clearly and
distinctly. They do not know that both the eyes together are necessary
in order to produce that psychological combination by which the visual
impression is projected into the right distance, and that in the
factory they are always in danger of underestimating the distance of a
wheel or some other part of the machine and of letting the hand slip
between the wheels or knives. The results of experimental psychology
will have to be introduced systematically into the study of the
fitness of the personality from the lowest to the highest technical
activity and from the simplest sensory function to the most complex
mental achievement.



X

EXPERIMENTS IN THE INTEREST OF TELEPHONE SERVICE


Our plan was to illustrate the possibility of applying psychological
experiments to the selection of fit applicants also in cases in which
not one characteristic mental function stands out, but in which a
large number of relatively independent mental activities are in play.
I choose as an illustration of such cases the work of the employees at
the telephone switchboard. A study of the psychological factors in
this work is strongly suggested by the practical interests of the
telephone companies, and may be looked on here exclusively from this
point of view. The user of the telephone is little inclined to
consider how many actions have to be carried out in the central office
before the connection is made and finally broken again. From the
moment when the speaker takes off the receiver to the cutting off of
the connection, fourteen separate psychophysical processes are
necessary in the typical case, and even then it is presupposed that
the telephone girl understood the exchange and number correctly. It is
a common experience of the companies that these demands cannot be
satisfactorily fulfilled when a telephone girl has to handle more than
225 calls in an hour. The official statistics show that this figure is
exceeded in not infrequent cases,[13] in extreme cases the number may
even rise beyond 300. Moreover, in short periods of reinforced demands
it may happen that for a few minutes even the rapidity of 10 calls in
a minute is reached. Normally the burden is divided among the
employees in such a way that about 150 calls fall to each one in an
hour, and that this figure is passed considerably only in one morning
and one evening hour. A skillful distribution of pauses and ample
arrangements for rest, usually together with very excellent hygienic
conditions, make it possible for the fit persons to be able to carry
on this work without over-fatigue from 8 to 9 hours a day. On the
other hand, it is only natural that such rapid and yet subtle activity
under such high tension, where especially the quick localization of
the correct hole is a difficult and yet indispensable part, can be
carried out only by a relatively small number of human nervous
systems. The inability to keep attention at such a high point for a
long while, or to perform such rapid movements, or to retain the
numbers correctly, does not lead to fatal accidents like those in the
case of the unfit motormen, but it does lead to fatigue and finally to
a nervous breakdown of the employees and to confusion in the service.
The result is that the company is continually obliged to dismiss a
considerable proportion of those who have entered the service and who
have spent some months in going through the training school of the
company. As one single company, the Bell Telephone Company, employs
16,000 operators, the problem is an expansive one, and it has bearing
on the health of the employees as well as on the patience of the
subscribers. But above all it refers to the economic interests of the
company, inasmuch as every girl who satisfies the entrance conditions
of hearing and sight, of school education and general personal
appearance, receives some salary throughout the months of training in
the telephone school. Since during the first half-year, in which the
employee still works entirely under supervision, more than a third of
those who had originally entered leave, partly on account of
unfitness, and inability, partly on account of over-fatigue or similar
reasons, the economic disadvantage to the company is evidently a very
great one. The candidates are paid for months of mere training, and
they themselves waste their energy and time with practice in a kind of
labor which cannot be serviceable to them in any other economic
activity. Under these circumstances it is not surprising that one
city system approached me with the question whether it would not
interest me from a scientific point of view to examine how far the
mental fitness of the employees could be determined beforehand through
experimental means.

After carefully observing the service in the central office for a
while, I came to the conviction that it would not be appropriate here
to reproduce the activity at the switchboard in the experiment, but
that it would be more desirable to resolve that whole function into
its elements and to undertake the experimental test of a whole series
of elementary mental dispositions. Every one of these mental acts can
then be examined according to well-known laboratory methods without
giving to the experiments any direct relation to the characteristic
telephone operation as such. I carried on the first series of
experiments with about thirty young women who a short time before had
entered into the telephone training school, where they are admitted
only at the age between seventeen and twenty-three years. I examined
them with reference to eight different psychophysical functions. In
saying this, I abstract from all those measurements and tests which
had somewhat anthropometric character, such as the measurement of the
length of the fingers, the rapidity of breathing, the rapidity of
pulse, the acuity of vision and of hearing, the distinctness of the
pronunciation, and so on. A part of the psychological tests were
carried on in individual examinations, but the greater part with the
whole class together.

These common tests referred to memory, attention, intelligence,
exactitude, and rapidity. I may characterize the experiments in a few
words. The memory examination consisted of reading to the whole class
at first two numbers of 4 digits, then two of 5 digits, then two of 6
digits, and so on up to figures of 12 digits, and demanding that they
be written down as soon as a signal was given. The experiments on
attention, which in this case of the telephone operators seemed to me
especially significant, made use of a method the principle of which
has frequently been applied in the experimental psychology of
individual differences and which I adjusted to our special needs. The
requirement is to cross out a particular letter in a connected text.
Every one of the thirty women in the classroom received the same first
page of a newspaper of that morning. I emphasize that it was a new
paper, as the newness of the content was to secure the desired
distraction of the attention. As soon as the signal was given, each
one of the girls had to cross out with a pencil every "a" in the text
for six minutes. After a certain time, a bell signal was given and
each then had to begin a new column. In this way we could find out,
first, how many letters were correctly crossed out in those six
minutes, secondly, how many letters were overlooked, and, thirdly, how
the recognition and the oversight were distributed in the various
parts of the text. In every one of these three directions strong
individual differences were indeed noticeable. Some persons crossed
out many, but also overlooked many, others overlooked hardly any of
the "a's," but proceeded very slowly so that the total number of the
crossed-out letters was small. Moreover, it was found that some at
first do poor work, but soon reach a point at which their attention
remains on a high level; others begin with a relatively high
achievement, but after a short time their attention flags, and the
number of crossed-out letters becomes smaller or the number of
unnoticed, overlooked letters increases. Fluctuations of attention,
deficiencies, and strong points can be discovered in much detail.

The third test which was tried with the whole class referred to the
intelligence of the individuals. Discussion of the question how to
test intelligence in general would quickly lead us into as yet
unsettled controversies. It is a chapter of the psychology of tests
which, especially in the service of pedagogy but to a certain degree
also in the service of medicine, has been more carefully elaborated
than any other. Often it has been contested whether we have any right
to speak of one general central intelligence factor, and whether this
apparently unified activity ought not to be resolved into a series of
mere elementary processes. The newer pedagogical investigations,
however, speak in favor of the view that besides all special
processes, or rather, above all of them, an ability must be recognized
which cannot be divided any further, and by which the individual
adjusts his knowledge, his experiences, and his dispositions to the
changing purposes of life. The grading of the pupils in a class
usually expresses this differentiation of the intelligence; and while
the differences of industry or of mere memory and similar secondary
features may sometimes interfere, it remains after all not difficult
for an observant teacher to grade the pupils of his class, whom he
knows well, according to their general intelligence. The psychological
experiments carried on in the schoolroom have demonstrated that this
ability can be tested by the measurement of some very simple mental
activities. The best method would be the one which would allow the
experimenter, on the basis of a single experiment, to grade the
individuals in the same order in which they appear in the record of
the teacher. Among the various proposed schemes for this purpose the
figures suggest that the most reliable one is the following method,
the results of which show the highest agreement between the rank order
based on the experiments and the rank order of the teachers.[14] The
experiment consists in reading to the pupils a long series of pairs of
words of which the two members of the pair always logically belong
together. Later, one word of each pair will be read to them and they
have to write down the word which belonged with it in the pair. This
is not a simple experiment on memory. The tests have shown that if
instead of logically connected words simply disconnected chance words
are offered and reproduced, no one can keep such a long series of
pairs in mind, while with the words which have related meaning, the
most intelligent pupils can master the whole series. The very
favorable results which this method had yielded in the classroom made
me decide to try it in this case too. I chose for an experiment 24
pairs of words from the sphere of experience of the girls to be
tested. Two further class experiments belonged rather to the periphery
of psychology. The exactitude of space-perception was measured by
demanding that each divide first the long and then the short edge of a
folio sheet into two equal halves by a pencil mark. And finally, to
measure the rapidity of movement, it was demanded that every one make
with a pencil on the paper zigzag movements of a particular size
during the ten seconds from one signal to another.

After these class experiments I turned to individual tests. First,
every girl had to sort a pack of 48 cards into 4 piles as quickly as
possible. The time was measured in fifths of a second. The following
experiment which referred to the accuracy of movement impulses
demanded that every one try to reach with the point of a pencil 3
different points on the table in the rhythm of metronome beats. On
each of these three places a sheet of paper was fixed with a fine
cross in the middle. The pencil should hit the crossing point, and the
marks on the paper indicated how far the movement had fallen short of
the goal. One of these movements demanded the full extension of the
arm and the other two had to be made with half-bent arm. I introduced
this last test because the hitting of the right holes in the
switchboard of the telephone office is of great importance. The last
individual experiment was an association test. I called six words like
"book," "house," "rain," and had them speak the first word which came
to their minds. The time was measured in fifths of a second only, as
subtler experiments, for which hundredths of a second would have to
be considered, were not needed.

In studying the results so far as the memory experiments were
concerned, we found that it would be useless to consider the figures
with more than 10 digits. We took the results only of those with 8,9,
and 10 digits. There were 54 possibilities of mistakes. The smallest
number of actual mistakes was 2, the largest, 29. In the experiment on
attention made with the crossing-out of letters, we found that the
smallest number of correctly marked letters was 107, the largest
number in the six minutes, 272; the smallest number of overlooked
letters was 2, the largest, 135; but this last case of abnormal
carelessness stood quite isolated. On the whole, the number of
overlooked letters fluctuated between 5 and 60. If both results, those
of the crossed-out and those of the overlooked letters, are brought
into relation, we find that the best results were a case of 236
letters marked, with only 2 overlooked, and one of 257 marked, with 4
overlooked. The very interesting details as to the various types of
attention which we see in the distribution of mistakes over the six
minutes were not taken into our final table. The word experiments by
which we tested the intelligence showed that no one was able to
reproduce more than 22 of the 24 words. The smallest number of words
remembered was 7. The mistakes in the perception of distances
fluctuated between 1 and 14 millimeters; the time for the sorting of
the 48 cards, between, 35 and 58 seconds; the association-time for the
6 associated words taken together was between 9 and 21 seconds. The
pointing experiments could not be made use of in this first series, as
it was found that quite a number of participants were unable to
perform the act with the rapidity demanded.

Several ways were open to make mathematical use of these results. I
preferred the simplest way. I calculated the grade of the girls for
each of these achievements. The same candidate who stood in the 7th
place in the memory experiment was in the 15th place with reference to
the number of letters marked, in the 3rd place with reference to the
letters overlooked, in the 21st place with reference to the number of
word pairs which she had grasped, in the 11th place with reference to
the exactitude of space-perception, in the 16th place with reference
to the association-time, and in the 6th place with reference to the
time of sorting. As soon as we had all these independent grades, we
calculated the average and in this way ultimately gained a common
order of grading. It is evident that this kind of calculation contains
accidental factors, especially as a consequence of the fact that we
give equal value to every one of these results. It might be better,
for instance, to attribute a higher value to the attention experiment
or to the intelligence experiment. This could be done by multiplying
the results of some of these grades by 2 or by 3, which would bring
the high or low grade of a girl for a particular function to stronger
influence in the final result. But in this first trial I contented
myself with the simplest uniform scheme in order to exclude all
arbitrariness, and therefore considered the mere average of all the
grades as the expression of the experimental result.

With this average rank list, we compared the practical results of the
telephone company after three months had passed. These three months
had been sufficient to secure at least a certain discrimination
between the best, the average, and the unfit. The result of this
comparison was on the whole satisfactory. First, the skeptical
telephone company had mixed with the class a number of women who had
been in the service for a long while and had even been selected as
teachers in the telephone school. I did not know, in figuring out the
results, which of the participants in the experiments these
particularly gifted outsiders were. If the psychological experiments
had brought the result that these individuals who stood so high in
the estimation of the telephone company ranked low in the laboratory
experiment, it would have reflected strongly on the reliability of the
laboratory method. The results showed, on the contrary, that these
women who had proved most able in practical service stood at the top
of our list. Correspondingly, those who stood the lowest in our
psychological rank list had in the mean time been found unfit in
practical service and had either left the company of their own accord
or else had been eliminated. The agreement, to be sure, was not a
perfect one. One of the list of women stood rather low in the
psychological list, while the office reported that so far she had done
fair work in the service, and two others to whom the psychological
laboratory gave a good testimonial were considered by the telephone
office as only fair.

But it is evident that certain disagreements would have occurred even
with a more ideal method, as on the one side no final achievement in
practical service can be given after only three months, and because on
the other side a large number of secondary factors may enter which
entirely overshadow the mere question of psychophysical fitness. Poor
health, for instance, may hinder even the most fit individual from
doing satisfactory work, and extreme industry and energetic will may
for a while lead even the unfit to fair achievement, which, to be
sure, is likely to be coupled with a dangerous exhaustion. The slight
disagreements between the psychological results and the practical
valuation, therefore, do not in the least speak against the
significance of such a method. On the other hand, I emphasize that
this first series meant only the beginning of the investigation, and
it can hardly be expected that at such a first approach the best and
most suitable methods would at once be hit upon. A continuation of the
work will surely lead to much better combinations of test experiments
and to better adjusted schemes. But it would be most desirable that
such studies be undertaken at various places according to various
schemes in order to come nearer to the solution of a problem which is
economically important to the whole public and to many thousands of
employees. As soon as methods are really perfected it would seem not
at all impossible that by a short experiment of a few minutes
thousands of applicants might be saved long months of study and
training which are completely wasted. For us here the detailed
analysis of this particular case did not mean a suggestion to use
to-day in the telephone offices of the country the special scheme
which we applied, but it stood only as a clear, simple illustration
of a method by which not the specific work itself is tested, but by
which the industrial work of the individual is resolved into a long
series of parallel functions each one of which is tested
independently. The experimental aid which the laboratory has to supply
in such cases is not a newly invented device, such as we needed in the
case of the motormen, but simply the methods well known as so-called
mental tests.

The experiments with such tests by which single mental functions are
measured approximately in short quick examinations, has been much
discussed in psychological circles. For a long while the thorough
scholars remained very reluctant to accept such an apparently
superficial scheme, when these tests were proposed especially for the
pedagogical interests of the schoolroom. It was a time in which the
scientific efforts were completely devoted to the general problems of
the human mind and in which individual differences were very little
considered. Moreover, the questions of applied psychology still seemed
so far distant that the true scholar instinctively took his standards
from the methods of purely theoretical research. Seen from such a
point of view, it could not be denied that the tests were not
sufficient to give us a complete scientific analysis of the
personality in its subtler structure. The theorists knew too well that
if the reactions, or associations, or memories, or tendencies of
attention, or emotions of a subject were measured really with that
scientific thoroughness which is the ideal of research, long months of
experiments would be needed, and little could be hoped for from tests
to be performed in half an hour. But this somewhat haughty reserve
which was quite justified twenty years ago has become obsolete and
would be meaningless to-day. On the one side the methods themselves
have been multiplied; for each mental act like memory, attention, and
so on, dozens of well-studied tests are at our disposal, which are
adjusted to the finest ramifications of the functions.[15] On the
other side the interest in individual differences and in applied
psychology has steadily grown, and through it an understanding for the
real meaning of the tests has been gained. Their value, indeed, lies
exclusively in their relation to the practical problems. Where
theoretical questions are to be answered and scientific studies
concerning the laws and variations of the mind are to be undertaken,
the long series of laboratory experiments carried on with patience and
devotion are indispensable and can never be replaced by the short-cut
methods of the tests. But where practical tasks of pedagogy or
jurisprudence or medicine, or especially of commerce and industry, are
before us, the method of tests ought to be sovereign. It can be
adapted to the special situations and can succeed perfectly, if the
task is to discover the outlines of the mental individuality for
particular practical work.

The only real difficulty of the method lies in the ease with which it
can be used. A device which presupposes complicated instruments deters
the layman and will be used only by those who are well trained.
Moreover, the amateur would not think of constructing and adapting
such apparatus himself. But when nothing is necessary but to use words
or numbers or syllables or pictures, or, as in those experiments which
we just described, newspapers and so on, any one feels justified in
applying the scheme or in replacing it by a new apparently better one
according to his caprice. The manifoldness of the proposed tests for
special functions, is therefore enormous to-day. What is needed now is
surely much more that order be brought into this chaos of
propositions, and that definite norms and standards be secured for
certain chief examinations, than that the number of variations simply
be increased.

The chief danger, moreover, lies in the fact that those who are not
accustomed to psychological laboratory research are easily misled.
They fancy that such an experiment can be carried out in a mere
mechanical way without careful study of all the conditions and
accompanying circumstances. Thereby a certain crudeness of procedure
may enter which is not at all suggested by the test method itself. The
psychological layman too seldom recognizes how many other psychical
functions may play a rôle in the result of the experiment beside the
one which is interesting him at that moment. The well-schooled
laboratory worker almost automatically gives consideration to all such
secondary circumstances. While his experiments may refer to the
process of memory, he will yet at the same time carefully consider the
particular situation as to the emotional setting of the subject, as to
his attention, as to his preceding experience, as to his intelligence,
as to his physiological condition, and many other factors which may
have indirect influence even on the simplest memory test. Hence the
real performance of the experiments ought to be undertaken only by
those who are thoroughly familiar and well trained in psychological
research. And they alone, moreover, can decide what particular form
such an experiment ought to take in a given practical situation. It
must be left to them, for instance, to judge in which cases the mental
function of economic importance ought to be tested after being
resolved into its components and in which it ought to be examined in
its characteristic unity.



XI

CONTRIBUTIONS FROM MEN OF AFFAIRS


While the psychologists have to perform the actual labor, the
representatives of practical life are much better able to indicate the
points at which the psychological levers ought to be applied. In the
past year I have sought contact with several hundred large concerns in
America which belong to many different industrial realms. My time did
not allow me personal observation in so many cases, but everywhere I
begged for information from the leading men. I asked in individual
letters for the particular psychological qualities which from the
standpoint of the management seemed essential for the various kinds of
labor in their establishments. I always inquired to what extent
consideration was given to such psychological points of view at the
appointment of applicants, and asked for material concerning the
question how far individuals who proved to be unfit for one kind of
labor showed fitness at other kinds of work. The replies which I
received from all sides varied from a few meaningless lines to long
documents, which in some cases were composed of detailed reports from
all the department chiefs of a particular concern. The common
fundamental turn was decidedly a feeling of strong interest in the
formulation of the question, which was practically new to all of them.
Whether the answer came from paper mills or machine shops, from
meat-packing houses or from breweries, from electrical or chemical
mills, from railroad or mining companies, from department stores or
from publishing houses, everywhere it was acknowledged that they had
given hardly any conscious attention to the real psychological
dispositions of their employees. They had of course noticed whether
their men were industrious or lazy, honest or dishonest, skillful or
clumsy, peaceful or quarrelsome people, but I had emphasized from the
start in all my letters that such points of view were not before my
mind. The mental qualities for which I asked were the psychological
functions of attention, memory, ideas, imagination, feeling, volition,
suggestibility, ability to learn, ability to discriminate, judgment,
space-sense, time-sense, and so on. It would lead too far here to
discuss why these two groups of characteristics indeed belong to two
different aspects of mental life, and why only the latter is strictly
psychological. The way in which the management is accustomed to look
on their men is the practical way of ordinary life, in which we try to
understand our neighbor by entering into the meaning of his mental
functions and by seeking to grasp what his aim is. But such an
interpretation of the other man's mind is not a psychological
analysis. It gives us the purposes of his inner life, but does not
show us its structure and its component parts. We can abstract from
interpreting and appreciating in order to describe the elements of the
mind which in themselves have no meaning and no value, but which are
the only important factors, if we are to determine psychologically
what we may expect from the individual.

While the replies to my letters showed that hardly any attention had
so far been given to such problems of objective psychology in the
industrial concerns, it became evident that the managers felt
distinctly that here a problem was touched which must be of highest
importance for economic success. From many different sides willingness
was shown to study the problem of employment under the psychological
aspect. As my material came mostly from very large establishments in
which labor of very many different kinds is carried on side by side,
of course I frequently received the assurance that whenever an
industrious energetic man is unsuccessful in one kind of work, a trial
is made with him in another department, and that by such shifting the
right place can often be found for him. Young people, to whom, in
spite of long trial and the best will, it seems impossible to supply
certain automatic machines, become excellent workers at much more
difficult labor in the same establishment. Women who are apparently
careless and inattentive when they have to distribute their attention
over a number of operations do high-class work when they are engaged
in a single activity; and in other cases the opposite is reported.

I may mention a few concrete chance illustrations. In a pencil factory
the women in one department have to grasp with one movement a dozen
pencils, no more and no less. Some learn this at once without effort,
and they earn high wages; others never can learn it in spite of
repeated trials. If those who fail in this department are transferred,
for instance, to the department where the gold-leaf is most carefully
to be applied to the pencils before stamping, very often they show
great fitness in spite of the extreme exactitude needed for this work.
To show how often activities which appear extremely similar may demand
different individuals, if the work is based on different psychical
functions, I may refer to a report from one of the largest
establishments in the country. In the accounting department a large
number of girls are occupied with looking over hundreds of thousands
of slips from which the weekly pay-list is compiled. Each slip
contains six figures and small groups of twenty slips have to be
looked through to see whether those six figures on each correspond.
With moistened forefinger they turn up the slips one by one in much
the same manner that a bank clerk counts money. A good sorter will
turn up the slips so rapidly that a bystander is unable to read a
single figure, and yet she will not overlook an error in thousands of
slips. After the slips are sorted, the operation of obtaining the
totals on each order number is performed with the aid of an adding
machine. The machine operator rolls up the slips of the pile with the
thumb of her left hand and transfers the amount to the proper keys of
the machine. It has been found that the most rapid and accurate girls
at sorting are not seldom useless on the machines. They press the
wrong, keys and make errors in copying the total from the machine
indicators to the file-card. On the other hand, some of the best
machine operators are very slow and inaccurate at the sorting table.
Girls have been found very poor at the work at which they were first
set, and very successful and efficient as soon as they had been
transferred from the one to the other.

Examples of this kind might be heaped up without end. But while the
very large establishments demonstrate by such reports only that they
can find somewhere a fit place for every able workingman if they take
enough trouble to seek for it, after all the essential element of the
reports remains, that successful achievement depends upon personal
mental traits which cannot be acquired by mere good will and training.
In view of this fact it is much more important that by far the
majority of establishments have not such a great manifoldness of
activities under one roof. The workingman who is a failure in the work
which he undertook would usually have no opportunity to show his
strong sides in the same factory, or at least to be protected against
the consequences of his weak points. If his achievement is deficient
in quality or quantity, he generally loses his place and makes a new
trial in another factory under the same accidental conditions, without
any deeper insight into his particular psychical traits and their
relation to special industrial activities. But even in the large
concerns, in which many kinds of labor are needed side by side, it is
not the rule but a rare exception when the individual is
systematically shifted to the psychologically correct place. A whole
combination of conditions is necessary for that. If his mental
unfitness makes him unsuccessful in one place, the position for which
he is fit must happen to be vacant. Moreover, he himself must like
that other kind of work, and above all the foreman must recognize his
particular fitness. In a few model factories in which the apprentice
system is developed in the spirit of advanced sociological ideas, for
instance, in the Lynn factory of the General Electric Company, such
systematic efforts are being carried on and show fair results. But the
regulation plan seems to be a haphazard lack of plan, and even the
best endeavors probably fall short of what may be attained by the
introduction of scientific psychological methods. So far in most
factories the laborer who is not doing well simply loses his position,
and by such an unfortunate experience he is not mentally enriched but
impoverished, as he has lost much of his self-confidence and of his
joy in labor.

If this limitless waste of human material, this pitiable crushing of
joy in the day's work, and this crippling of the economic output is at
last to be reduced, indeed nothing is more needed than a careful
scrutiny of the various psychophysical functions involved in the work.
A mere classification of the industrial occupations according to the
classes of manufactured objects would be of no value for this need, as
often a small industrial concern may embrace occupations which, are
based on many different psychophysical functions. A harvester consists
of two hundred and fifty different parts, and almost every one of
these parts demands a long series of manufacturing, processes.
Thousands of different kinds of labor are thus combined in one factory
and each process demands for the best work particular psychophysical
traits, even though many of them can be carried out by quite unskilled
laborers. In a large manufacturing establishment the manager assured
me only recently that more than half a million different acts have to
be performed in order to complete the goods of that factory. On the
other hand, it evidently is proper to form larger groups in which
processes are brought together which are similar with reference to the
mental activity needed, while they may be dissimilar from the
standpoint of industrial technique.

This analysis of the special processes can be furthered best by the
coöperation of the experienced men of industry. Many of the replies
which I received contained quite elaborated contributions to such a
study of various industrial processes from a psychological point of
view. They sometimes covered the ground from the simplest activity to
the subtlest and most difficult economic tasks, and this, not only
with reference to the functions of the laborer, but also even with
reference to the function of the industrial manager. The outsider can
see these psychological requirements of the particular occupation only
in crude outlines. The subtler nuances of differences between tasks
can be gained only by an intimate knowledge of the industry. Again I
may give an illustration. In the case of a well-known typesetting
machine, thousand of which are in daily use, I had the impression that
the rapidity of the performance was dependent upon the quickness of
the finger reaction. The managers, on the other hand, have found that
the most essential condition for speed in the whole work is the
ability to retain a large number of words in memory before they are
set. The man who presses the keys rather slowly advances more rapidly
than another who moves his fingers quickly, but must make many pauses
in order to find his place in the manuscript and to provide himself
with new words.

The factors which are to be brought into correlation are, accordingly,
first, the actual experiences of the managers, secondly, the
observations of skilled psychologists in the industrial concerns,
thirdly, psychological and experimental investigations with successful
and unsuccessful laborers, and, fourthly, experimental studies of the
normal variability. If such a programme is to be realized in detail,
it will be necessary to discriminate carefully, between those mental
traits of the personality which must be accredited to a lasting
inherited disposition and such as have been developed under the
influences of the surroundings, by education and training, by bad or
good stimuli from the community. While those acquired traits may have
become relatively lasting dispositions, their transformation is, after
all, possible, and the limits in which changes may be expected will
have to be found out by exact studies. Individual psychological
rhythm, attention and emotion, memory and will energy, disposition to
fatigue and to restoration, imagination, suggestibility and
initiative, and many other features will have to be examined in their
relation to the special economic aims.

Too much emphasis cannot be laid on another function as well, the
experimental testing of which has only recently been started. I refer
to the difference in the individual ability of men to profit from
training. If we test an individual at a certain point in his life with
regard to a variable ability, our result must be dependent upon three
factors, the original disposition for the performance, the original
disposition for the advance by training, and the training itself
actually passed through up to that moment. A small amount of
antecedent training for the particular task together with a high
ability to profit from repetition may be a better reason for the
appointment of a man than a long training with small ability to profit
from schooling, in spite of the fact that his actual achievement at
this time may be in the first case smaller than in the second. He will
do less at first, but he promises to outrank the other man after a
period of further training. Special experiments must be carried on and
have been actually started to determine this plasticity of the
psychophysical apparatus as an independent inborn trait of the
individual.[16]

This invasion of psychology into the field of economic activities is
still so little advanced that the thought of a real distribution of
the wage-earners among the various commercial and industrial positions
on the basis of psychological tests would lead far beyond the present
possibilities. Moreover, many factors would interfere with its being
carried out consistently, even if a much higher stage of experimental
research were reached. The thousands of social and local reasons which
influence the choice of a vocation to-day would to a certain degree
remain in force also in a period of better psychological analysis.
Moreover, the personal inclinations and interests naturally would and
ought to remain the mainspring of economic action. This inclination,
which gives so much of the joy in labor, is by no means necessarily
coincident with those psychophysical dispositions which insure the
most successful work. Political economists have found this out
repeatedly from their statistical inquiries. Very careful studies of
the textile industry in Germany carried out in recent years[17]
yielded the result that the intelligent, highly trained textile
laborer often dislikes his work the more, the more he shows ability
for it, this ability being measured by the wages the individuals earn
at piecework. The wage and the emotional attitude were not seldom
inversely related. Those who were able to produce by far more than
others and accordingly earned the most were sometimes the very ones
who hated the work, while the less skillful workers earned less but
enjoyed the work more. The consulting economic psychologist will,
therefore at first reasonably confine himself to warning the misfits
at an early time. Even within these limits his service can be useful
to both parties, the employers and the employees. He will only slowly
reach the stage at which this negative warning may be supplemented by
positive suggestions, as to the commercial industrial activities for
which the psychophysical dispositions promise particular success.

A real assumption of responsibility for success of course cannot be
risked by the psychologist, inasmuch as the man who may be fitted for
a task by his mental working dispositions may nevertheless destroy his
chances for success by secondary personal traits. He may be dishonest,
or dissipated, or a drinker, or a fighter, or physically ill. Finally,
we ought not to forget that all such efforts to adjust to one another
the psychological traits and the requirements of the work can never
have reference to the extreme variations of human traits. The
exceptionally talented man knows anyhow where he belongs, and the
exceptionally untalented one will be excluded anyhow. The
psychological aid in the selection of the fit refers only to the
remaining four fifths of mankind for whom the chances of success can
indeed be increased as soon as the psychological personal equation is
systematically and with scientific exactitude brought into the
calculation of the life development. How far a part of this effort
will have to be undertaken by the school is a social problem which
must be considered from various points of view. Its discussion would
lead us beyond the limits of our present inquiry, but it seems
probable that the real psychological laboratory experiment in the
service of vocational guidance does not belong in the schoolroom
itself, but ought to be left to special municipal institutions.



XII

INDIVIDUALS AND GROUPS


One point here must not be overlooked. The effort to discover the
personal structure of the individual in the interest of his vocational
chance does not always necessarily involve a direct analysis of his
individuality, as material of some value can be gained indirectly.
Such indirect knowledge of a man's mental traits may be secured first
of all through referring the man to the groups to which he belongs and
inquiring into the characteristic traits of those groups. The
psychology of human variations gives not only an account of the
differences from person to person, but studies no less the psychical
inequalities of the races, of the nations, of the ages, of the
professions, and so on. If an economic activity demands a combination
of mental traits, we may take it for granted that an individual will
be fit for the work as soon as we find out that he belongs to a group
in which these required mental traits habitually occur. Such a
judgment based on group psychology can of course be no more than a
mere approach to a solution of the problem, as the psychical qualities
may vary strongly in the midst of the group. The special individual
may happen to stand at the extreme limit of the group, and the traits
which are usually characteristic of it may be very little developed or
entirely lacking in his special case. We may know that the inhabitants
of a special country are rather alert, and yet the particular
individual with whom we have to deal may be clumsy and phlegmatic. The
interests of economy will, therefore, be served by such considerations
of group psychology only if the employment, not of a single person,
but of a large number, is in question, as it is most probable that the
average character will show itself in a sufficient degree as soon as
many members of the group are involved.

Even in this case the presupposition ought to be that the average
characteristics found out with scientific exactitude by statistical
and experimental methods, and not that they are simply deduced from
superficial impressions. I have found that just this race
psychological diagnosis is frequently made in factories with great
superficiality. Some of the American industrial centres offer
extremely favorable conditions for the comparative study of
nationality. I have visited many manufacturing establishments in which
almost all workers are immigrants from foreign countries and in which
up to twenty different nationalities are represented. The employment
officers there easily develop some psychological theories on the
basis of which they are convinced that they are selecting the men with
especial skill, knowing for each in which department he will be most
successful. They consider it settled that for a particular kind of
activity the Italians are the best, and for another, the Irish, and
for a third, the Hungarians, and for a fourth, the Russian Jews. But
as soon as these factory secrets have been revealed, you may be
surprised to find that in the next factory a decidedly different
classification of the wage-earners is in force. In a gigantic
manufacturing concern, I received the definite information that the
Swedish laborers are preferable wherever a steady eye is needed, and
in another large factory on the same street I was assured that just
the Swedes are unfit for such work. Sometimes this diversity of
opinion is the result of different points of view. In one factory in
which a certain industrial operation is rather dangerous, they told me
that they took no southern Europeans, especially no Italians and
Greeks, because they are too hasty and careless in their movements,
while they gladly filled the places with Irishmen. In a quite similar
factory, on the other hand, they had a prejudice against the Irishmen
alone for this work, because the Irish laborers are too willing to run
a risk and to expose themselves to danger. Probably both
psychological observations are on the whole correct, but in the first
factory only the one and in the second factory only the other was
recognized. Much more thorough statistical inquiries than those which
as yet exist, especially as to the actual differences of wages and
piecework for wage-earners of various nationalities, would have to
furnish a basis for such race psychological statements, until the time
arrives when the psychological experiment comes to its own.

In a similar way so far we have to rely on general theories of group
psychology when the psychological differences of the sexes are to be
reckoned with in economic interests. So long as laboratory methods for
individual tests are not usual, the mental analysis of the general
groups of men and women must form the background for industrial
decisions. To be sure, it is not difficult to emphasize certain mental
traits as characteristic of women in general in contrast to men in
general, and to relate them to certain fundamental tendencies of their
psychophysical organism. As soon as this is done, it is easy
theoretically to deduce that certain industrial functions are
excellently adapted to the minds of women and that certain others
stand in striking antagonism to them. If the employment of large
numbers is in question, and average values alone are involved, such a
decision on the basis of group psychology may be adequate. In most
factories this vague sex psychology, to be sure, usually with a strong
admixture of wage questions, suggests for which machines men and for
which women ought to be employed. But here again it is not at all
improbable that in the case of a particular woman the traditional
group value may be entirely misleading and the personality accordingly
unfit for the place. Only the subtle psychological individual analysis
can overcome the superficial prejudices of group psychology. The
situation lies differently when problems of economic policy are before
us. Such general policies as, for instance, colonial politics, or
immigration politics, or politics concerned with city and rural
communities, or with coast and mountain population, will always have
to be based on group psychology as far as the economic problems are
involved, inasmuch as they refer to the average and not to the
individual, differences.

Finally, another indirect scheme to determine the personal qualities
needed for economic efficiency may be suggested by the psychology of
the typical correlations of human traits. We have seen that group
psychology proclaims that a certain individual probably has certain
traits because he belongs to this or that nation or to this or that
otherwise well-known group. Correlation psychology proclaims that a
particular individual possesses or does not possess certain traits
because he shows or does not show some other definite qualities. A
correlation, for instance, which the commercial world often
presupposes, may exist between individual traits and the handwriting.
Graphologists are convinced that a certain loop or flourish, or the
steepness or the length of the letters, or the position of the _i_
dot, is a definite indication that the writer possesses certain
qualities of personality; and if just these qualities are essential
requirements for the position, the impression of the handwriting in a
letter may be taken as a sufficient basis for appointment. The
scientist has reason to look upon this particular case of
graphological correlation with distrust. Yet even he may acknowledge
that certain correlations exist between the neatness, carefulness,
uniformity energy, and similar features of the letter, and the general
carefulness, steadiness, neatness, and energy of the personality.

However, the laboratory psychologists nowadays have gone far beyond
such superficial claims for correlations of symptoms. With
experimental and statistical methods they have gathered ample material
which demonstrates the exact degree of probability with which we have
a right to expect that certain qualities will occur together.
Theoretically we may take it for granted that those traits which are
always present together or absent together ultimately have a common
mental root. Yet practically they appear as two independent traits,
and therefore it remains important to know that, if we can find one of
them, we may be sure that the other will exist there too. Inasmuch as
the one of the two traits may be easily detected, while the other may
be hidden and can be found out only by long careful tests, it would be
valuable, indeed, for the employment manager to become acquainted with
such correlations as the psychologist may discover: as soon as he
becomes aware of the superficially noticeable symptom, he can foresee
that the other disposition is most probably present. To give an
illustration: in the interest of such measurements of correlations we
have studied in the Harvard laboratory the various characteristics of
attention and their mutual dependence.[18] We found that typical
connections exist between apparently independent features of
attention. Persons who have a rather expansive span of attention for
acoustical impressions have also a wide span for the visual objects.
Persons whose attention is vivid and quick have on the whole the
expansive type of attention, while those who attend slowly have a
narrow field of attention, and so on. Hence the manifestation of one
feature of attention allows us to presuppose without further tests
that certain other features may be expected in the particular
individual.

The problem of attention, indeed, seems to stand quite in the centre
of the field of industrial efficiency. This conviction has grown upon
me in my observation of industrial life. The peculiar kind of
attention decides more than any mental trait for which economic
activity the individual is adapted. The essential point is that such
differences of attention cannot be characterized as good or bad; it is
not a question of the attentive and of the inattentive mind. One type
is not better than another, but is simply different. Two workingmen,
not only equally industrious and capable, but also equally attentive,
may yet occupy two positions in which they are both complete failures
because their attention does not fit the places, and both may become
highly efficient as soon as they exchange positions. Their particular
types of attention have now found the right places. The one may be
disposed to a strong concentration by which everything is inhibited
which lies on the mental periphery, the other may have the talent for
distributing his attention over a large field, while he is unable to
hold it for a long while at one point. If the one industrial activity
demands the attentive observation of one little lever or one wheel at
one point, while the other demands that half a dozen large machines be
simultaneously supervised, all that is necessary is to find the man
with the right type of attention for each place. It would be utterly
arbitrary to claim that the expansive type of attention is
economically more or less valuable than the concentrated type. Both in
English and in German we have a long popular series of pamphlets with
descriptions of the requirements and conditions for the various
occupations to which a boy or a girl may turn, but I have nowhere
found any reference to the most essential mental functions such as the
particular kind of attention or memory or will. These pamphlets are
always cut after the same pattern. Where the detail refers at all to
the mental side, it points only to particular knowledge which may be
learned in school or trade or work, or to abilities which may be
developed by training. But the individual differences which are set by
the particular conditions and dispositions of the mind are neglected
with surprising uniformity in the vocational literature of all
countries. The time seems ripe for at last filling this blank in the
consciousness of the nation and in the institutions of the land.



PART II

THE BEST POSSIBLE WORK



XIII

LEARNING AND TRAINING


We have placed our psychotechnical interest at the service of economic
tasks. We therefore had to start from the various economic purposes
and had to look backward, asking what ways might lead to these goals.
All our studies so far were in this sense subordinated to the one task
which ought to be the primary one in the economic world, and yet which
has been most ignored. The purpose before us was to find for every
economic occupation the best-fitted personality, both in the interest
of economic success and in the interest of personal development.
Individual traits under this point of view become for us the decisive
psychological factors, and experimental psychology had to show us a
method to determine those personal differences and their relation to
the demands for industrial efficiency. This first goal may be reached
with all the means of science, as we hope it will be in the future, or
everything may be left to unscientific, haphazard methods as in the
past: in any case a second task stands before the community, namely,
the securing of the best possible work from every man in his place.
Indeed, the nation cannot delay the solution of this second problem
until the first has been solved in a satisfactory way. We might even
say that the answer to the second question is the more important, the
less satisfactory the answer to the first is. If every place in the
economic world were filled only by those who are perfectly adapted by
their mental traits, it would be much less difficult to get efficient
work from everyone. The fact that so many misfits are at work makes it
such an urgent necessity to find ways and means by which the
efficiency can be heightened.

It must be acknowledged, however, that the problem of the best work is
not quite such a clear one as that of the best man. From various
standpoints a different answer may be given to the question which kind
of work is the best. A capitalistic, profit-seeking egotism may
consider the quickest performance, or, if differences of quality are
involved, the most skillful performance, the only desirable end. The
social reformers, on the other hand, may consider the best work that
which combines the greatest and best possible output with the highest
possible saving of the organism and the fullest development of the
personality. We have emphasized from the start that the practical
psychologist as such has not the right to give a decision upon
problems of social civilization. He has to accept the economic tasks
from the community for which he is working and his impartial service
commences only when the goals have been determined. It is not his
share to select the ends, but simply to determine the means after the
valuable ends have been chosen. As a psychological scientist he has
not the right to enter into the arena of different social party
fights. Yet we find after all a broad region which seems rather
untouched by any conflict of reasonable opinions. A reckless
capitalism on the one side and a feeble sentimentality on the other
side may try to widen or to narrow the boundaries of this region, but
taken all together, a vigorous healthy nation which is eagerly devoted
to its work is on the whole in agreement as to the essential economic
demands for efficient labor.

Experience, to be sure, shows that great changes in the conditions of
work can never enter into the history of civilization without certain
disturbances, and that opposition must therefore necessarily arise in
certain groups even against such changes as are undoubtedly
improvements and advances from the point of view of the whole nation.
Such dissatisfaction arose when the factory system was introduced, and
it is only natural that some irritation should accompany the
introduction of psychological improvements in the methods of work,
inasmuch as not a few wage-earners may at first have to lose their
places because a small number of men will under the improved
conditions be sufficient for the performance of tasks which needed
many before. But the history of economics has clearly shown that from
the point of view of the whole community such an apparent disturbance
has always been only temporary. If the psychologists succeed in
fundamentally improving the conditions of labor, the increased
efficiency of the individual will promote such an enriched and
vivified economic life that ultimately an increase in the number of
laborers needed will result. The inquiry into the possible
psychological contributions to the question of reinforced achievement
must not be deterred by the superficial objection that in one or
another industrial concern a dismissal of wage-earners might at first
result. Psychotechnics does not stand in the service of a party, but
exclusively in the service of civilization.

To begin at the beginning, we may start from the commonplace that
every form of economic labor in the workshop and in the factory, in
the field and in the mine, in the store and in the office, must first
be learned. How far do the experiments of the psychologist offer
suggestions for securing the most economic method of learning
practical activities? Bodily actions in the service of economic work
are taught and learned in hundreds of thousands of places. It is
evident that one method of teaching must reach the goal more quickly
and more reliably than another. Some methods of teaching must
therefore be economically more advantageous, and yet on the whole the
methods of teaching muscular work are essentially left to chance. It
is indeed not difficult to observe how factory workers or artisans
have learned the same complex motion according to entirely different
methods. The result is that they carry out the various partial
movements in a different order, or with different auxiliary motions,
or in different positions, or in a different rhythm, or with different
emphasis, simply because they imitate different teachers, and because
no norm, no certainty as to the best methods for the teaching, has
been determined. But the process of learning is still more fluctuating
and still more dependent upon chance than the process of teaching. The
apprentice approaches the instruction, in any chance way, and the
beginner usually learns even the first steps with a psychophysical
attitude which is left to accident. An immense waste of energy and a
quite anti-economic training in unfit movements is the necessary
result.

The learning of the elements of school knowledge in the classroom in
earlier times proceeded after exactly such chance methods. Any one who
knew how to read, write, and calculate felt himself prepared to pour
reading, writing, and arithmetic into the unprotected children.
Methods which are based on scientific examination of the
psychophysical process of reading and writing were not at the disposal
of the schools, and exact results from comparative studies of
pedagogical methods had not been secured. The last few decades have
created an entirely new foundation for enlightened school work. The
experimental investigations of pedagogical psychology have determined
exactly how the consciousness of the child reacts on the various
methods of teaching and have built up a real systematic economic
learning. All which was left to dilettantic caprice has been
transformed into more or less definite standard forms. For instance,
the old scheme of teaching reading by the alphabet method is
practically eliminated from our modern schools. It is clear that this
learning of the names of the single letters as a starting-point for
the reading of words was not only a wasting of time and energy, but an
actual disturbance in the development of the reading process in the
older generation. As those names of the letters do not occur at all in
the words to be read, but only their sounds, what had been learned in
seeing the single letters had to be inhibited in pronouncing the whole
word. It seems not too much to say that the learning of industrial
activities on the whole still stands on the level of such alphabet
methods, and this cannot be otherwise, as the real problem, namely,
the systematic investigation of the psychophysical activities
involved, has never been brought into the psychological laboratory.

The pedagogical experiment has shown clearly enough that the
subjective feeling of easier or quicker learning may be entirely
unreliable and misleading. If the task is to learn a page by heart, we
may proceed after many different methods. We may learn very small
fractions of the text, repeating only a few words, or we may read
whole paragraphs every time; we may repeat the whole material again
and again, or we may put in long periods of rest after a few
repetitions; we may frequently recite it from memory and have some one
to prompt us; we may give our attention especially to the meaning of
the words, or merely to the sounds, or we may introduce any number of
similar variations. Now the careful experiment shows that of two such
methods one which appears to us the better and more appropriate in
learning, perhaps even as the easier and more comfortable, may prove
itself the less efficient one in the practical result. The psychology
of learning, which won its success by introducing meaningless
syllables as experimental material, has slowly determined the most
reliable methods for impressing knowledge on memory. Where such
results have once been secured, it would surely be a grave mistake
simply to stick to the methods of so-called common sense and to leave
it to the caprice of the individual teacher to decide what method of
learning he will suggest to his pupils. The best method is always the
only one which should be considered. The psychology of economic work
must aim toward similar goals. We must secure a definite knowledge as
to the methods by which a group of movements can best be learned. We
must understand what value is to be attached to the repetitions and to
the pauses, to the imitations and to the special combinations of
movements, to the exercise in parts of the movements, to the rhythm of
the work, and to many similar influences which may shape the learning
process.

The simplest aspect, that of the mere repetition of the movement, has
frequently been examined by psychophysicists. The real founder of
experimental psychology, Fechner, showed the way; he performed
fatiguing experiments with lifted dumb-bells. Then came the time in
which the laboratories began to make a record of the muscular
activities with the help of the ergograph, an instrument with which
the movements of the arm and the fingers can easily be registered on
the smoked surface of a revolving drum. The subtlest variations of the
activity, the increase and decrease of the psychomotor impulse, the
mental fatigue, can be traced exactly in such graphic records. This
psychomotor side of the process, and not the mere muscle activity as
such, is indeed the essential factor which should interest us. The
results of exercise are a training of the central apparatus of the
brain and not of the muscular periphery. The further development of
those experiments soon led to complex questions, which referred not
only to the mere change in the motor efficiency, but to the learning
of particular groups of movements and to the influences on the
exactitude and reliability of the movements. The purely mental factors
of the will-impulse, especially the consciousness of the task, came
into the foreground. These experiences of the scientists concerning
the influences of training, the mechanization of repetition, and the
automatization of movements have been thoroughly discussed by a
brilliant political economist[19] as an explanation of certain
industrial facts, but they have not yet practically influenced life in
the factory.

The nearest approach from the experimental side to the study of the
effect of training in actual industrial tasks may be found in certain
laboratory investigations which refer to the learning of telegraphing,
typewriting, and so on. For instance, we have a careful study[20] of
the progress made in learning telegraphy, both as to the transmitting
of the telegrams by the key movement and the receiving of the
telegrams by the ear. It was found that the rapidity of transmitting
increases more rapidly and more uniformly than the rapidity of
receiving. But while the curve of the latter rises more slowly and
more irregularly, it finally reaches the greater height. The ability
in transmitting, represented by a graphic record, shows an ascent
which corresponds to the typical, steady curve of training. In the
receiving curve, on the other hand, we find not far from the beginning
a characteristic period during which no progress whatever can be
noticed, and this is also repeated at a later stage. The psychological
analysis shows that the increase of ability in the receiving of
telegrams depends upon the development of a complex system of
psychophysical habits. The periods in which the curve does not ascend
represent stages of training in which the elementary habits are
almost completely formed, but have not become sufficiently automatic.
The attention is therefore not yet ready to start habits of a higher
order. The lowest correlation refers to the single letters, after that
to the syllables and words. As soon as the apprentice has reached this
point, he stops, because he must learn to master more and more new
words until his telegraphic vocabulary is large enough to make it
possible for him to turn his consciousness to whole groups of words at
once. Only when this new habit has been made automatic by a training
of several months can he advance to a level at which whole groups of
words are perceived as telegraphic units. A time follows in which this
mastery of whole phrases advances rapidly, until a new period of rest
comes, from which, only after years and often quite suddenly, a last
new ascent can be noticed. Instead of concentrating the attention with
conscious strain on single phrases, the operator progresses to a
perfect liberty in which whole sentences are understood automatically.

We also have a model experimental research into the psychological
conditions of learning in the case of writing on a typewriter.[21] By
electrical connections between the typewriting machine and a system of
levers which registered their movements on the rotating drum of a
kymograph, graph, each striking of a key, each completion of a word,
or of a line, could be recorded in exact time-relations. Each glance
at the copy was also registered. It was found that the process of
learning consisted first of a continuous simplification of the
cumbersome methods with which the beginner commences. A steady
elimination of unfit movements, a selection, a reorganization, and
finally, a combination of psychophysical acts to impulses of higher
order, could be traced exactly. Here, too, the curve of learning at
first rises quickly and then more and more slowly. Of course the usual
fluctuations in the growth of the ability can also be found, and above
all the irregular periods of rest in which the learning itself does
not progress, for some of these so-called plateaus which lie between
the end of one ascent and the beginning of the next may cover a month
and more. At the beginning we have the elementary association between
the single letter and the position of the corresponding key, but soon
an immediate connection between the visual impression of the whole
syllable or the whole word and the total group of movements necessary
to strike the keys for it is developed. The more the ability grows,
the more these psychical impulses of higher order become organized
without conscious intention. The study shows that this development of
higher habits has already begun before the lower habits are fully
settled.

How far the special training involves at the same time a general
training which could be of advantage for other kinds of labor has not
yet been studied at all with reference to industrial technique. There
we are still completely dependent upon certain experiences in the
field of experimental pedagogy, and upon certain statistics, for
instance, in the textile industry. Many patient investigations, with
every independent group of apparatus and machines, may be necessary
before psychotechnics will be able to supply industry with reliable
advice for teaching and learning. Nor have we the least right hastily
to carry over the results from one group of movements to another. Even
where superficially a certain similarity between the technical factors
exists, the psychophysical conditions may be essentially different. In
the two cases mentioned, for instance, telegraphing and typewriting,
the chief factor seems the same, as in both cases the aim is to make
the quickest possible finger movements for purposes of signals; and
yet it is not surprising that the development of the ability from the
beginnings to the highest mastery is rather unlike, as all the
movements in telegraphing are performed with the same finger, while
in typewriting the chief trait is the organization of groups from the
impulses to all ten fingers. At least it is certain that learning
always means far more than a mere facilitation of the movement by
mechanical repetition, and this is true of the simplest handling of
the tools in the workshop, of the movements at the machine in the
factory, and of the most complex performances at the subtlest
instruments. The chief factor in the development is always the
organization of the impulses by which the reactions which are at first
complicated become simplified, later mechanized, and finally
synthesized into a higher group which becomes subordinated to one
simple psychical impulse. The most reliable and psychophysically most
economic means for this organization will have to be studied in the
economic psychological laboratories of the future for every particular
technique. Then only can the enormous waste of psychical energy
resulting from haphazard methods be brought to an end.

A problem which is still too little considered in industrial life is
the mutual interference of acquired technical activities. If one
connected series of movements is well trained by practice, does it
become less firmly fixed, if another series is studied in which the
same beginning is connected with another path of discharge? I
approached this psychophysical question of learning by experiments
which I carried on for a long while with variations of ordinary habits
of daily life, asking whether a habit associated with a certain
sensory stimulus can function automatically while dispositions for a
different habit, previously acquired, remain in the psychophysical
system. For instance, I was accustomed to carry my watch in my
left-hand vest pocket. For a week I carried it in the right-hand
pocket of my trousers and recorded every case in which I first
automatically made the movement to the vest. After some time the
movement to the right-hand pocket became entirely automatic. When it
was sufficiently fixed, I again put the watch in the left-hand vest
pocket and recorded how often I unconsciously grasped at the right
side when I wanted to see what time it was. As soon as the vest pocket
movement had again become fixed, I went back to the right-hand
trousers pocket. And so I alternated for a long while, always changing
only after reaching complete automatism. But the results in this case
and in other similar experiments which I carried on showed that the
new automatic connection did not extinguish the after effects of the
previous habit. With every new change the number of wrong movements
became smaller and smaller, and finally a point was reached at which
the dispositions for both movements were equally developed so that no
wrong movements occurred when the watch was put into the new
position.[22]

This problem has been followed up very recently in a valuable
investigation at Columbia University,[23] in which various habits of
typewriting and of card-sorting were acquired and studied in their
mutual interference. These very careful experiments also show that
when two opposing associations are alternately practiced, they have an
interference effect on each other, but that the interference grows
less and less as the practice effect becomes greater. The interference
effect is gradually overcome and both opposing associations become
automatic, so that either of them can be called up independently
without the appearance of the other. Many details of the research
suggest that this whole group of interference problems deserves the
most careful attention by those who would practically profit from
increased industrial efficiency.

Finally, in the experimental study of the problem of technical
learning, we cannot ignore the many side influences which may hasten
or delay, improve or disturb, the acquisition of industrial skill. In
the Harvard laboratory, for instance, we are at present engaged in an
investigation which deals with the influence of feelings on the
rapidity with which new movement coördinations are mastered.[24] In
order to have unlimited comparable material a very simple technical
performance is required, namely, the distribution of the 52
playing-cards into 52 boxes. Labels on the boxes indicate changing
combinations for the distribution to be learned. We examine, on the
one side, the influence of feelings of comfort or of discomfort on the
learning of the new habit, these feeling states being produced by
external conditions, such as pleasant or unpleasant sounds, odors, and
so on. On the other side we trace the effects of those feelings which
arise during the learning process itself, such as feelings of
satisfaction with progress, or disappointment, or discomfort, or
disgust or joy in the activity.



XIV

THE ADJUSTMENT OF TECHNICAL TO PSYCHICAL CONDITIONS


Teaching and learning represent only the preliminary problem. The
fundamental question remains, after all, how the work is to be done by
those who have learned it in accordance with the customs of the
economic surroundings and who are accordingly already educated and
trained for it. What can be done to eliminate everything which
diminishes and decreases efficiency, and what remains to be done to
reinforce it. Such influences are evidently exerted by the external
technical conditions, by variations of the activity itself, and by the
play of the psychical motives and counter-motives. It must seem as if
only this last factor would belong in the realm of psychology, but the
technical conditions, of which the machine itself is the most
important part, and the bodily movements also have manifold relations
to the psychical life. Only as far as these relations prevail has the
psychologist any reason to study the problem. The purely physical and
economic factors of technique do not interest him at all, but when a
technical arrangement makes a psychophysical achievement more
difficult or more easy, it belongs in the sphere of the psychologist,
and just this aspect of the work may become of greatest importance for
the total result. In all three of these directions, that is, with
reference to the technical, to the physiological, and to the purely
psychical, the scientific management movement has prepared the way.
The engineers of scientific management recognized, at least, that no
part of the industrial process is indifferent, even the apparently
most trivial activity, the slightest movement of arm or hand or leg,
became the object of their exact measurement. The stopwatch which
measures every movement in fractions of a second has become the symbol
of this new economic period. As long as special psychological
experiments in the service of industrial psychology are still so
exceptional, it may, indeed, be acknowledged that the practical
experiments in the service of scientific management have come nearest
to the solution of these special psychotechnical problems.

To proceed from without toward the centre, we may begin our review
with the physical technique of the working conditions and its
relations to the mind. Tue history of technique shows on every page
this practical adjustment of external labor conditions to the
psychophysical necessities and psychophysical demands. No machine
with which a human being is to work can survive in the struggle for
technical existence, unless it is to a certain degree adapted to the
human nerve and muscle system and to man's possibilities of
perception, of attention, of memory, of feeling, and of will.
Industrial technique with its restless improvements has always been
subordinated to this postulate. Every change which made it possible
for the workingman to secure equal effects with smaller effort or to
secure greater or better effects with equal effort counted as an
economic gain, which was welcome to the market. For instance,
throughout the history of industry we find the fundamental tendency to
transpose all activities from the great muscles to the small muscles.
Any activity which is performed with the robust muscles of the
shoulder when it can be done with the lower arm, or labor which is
demanded from the muscles of the lower arm when it can just as well be
carried out by the fingers, certainly involves a waste of
psychophysical energy. A stronger psychophysical excitement is
necessary in order to secure the innervation of the big muscles in the
central nervous system. This difference in the stimulation of the
various muscle groups has been of significant consequence for the
differentiation of work throughout the development of mankind.[25]
Labor with the large muscles has, for these psychophysical reasons,
never been easily combined with the subtler training of the finer
muscles. Hence a social organization which obliged the men to give
their energy to war and the hunt, both, in primitive life, functions
of the strongest muscles, made it necessary for the domestic
activities, which are essentially functions of the small muscles, to
be carried out by women. The whole history of the machine demonstrates
this economic tendency to make activities dependent upon those muscles
which presuppose the smallest psychophysical effort. It is not only
the smaller effort which gives economic advantage to the stimulation
of the smaller muscles, but the no less important circumstance that
the psychophysical after-effect of their central excitement exerts
less inhibition than the after-effect of the brain excitement for the
big muscles.

But we must not overlook another feature in the development of
technique. The machines have been constantly transformed in the
direction which made it possible to secure the greatest help from the
natural coördination of bodily movements. The physiological
organization and the psychophysical conditions of the nervous system
make it necessary that the movement impulses flow over into motor side
channels and thus produce accessory effects without any special
effort. If a machine is so constructed that these natural accessory
movements must be artificially and intentionally suppressed, it means,
on the one side, a waste of available psychophysical energy, and on
the other side it demands a useless effort in order to secure this
inhibition. The industrial development has moved toward both the
fructification of those side impulses and the avoidance of these
inhibitions. It has adjusted itself practically to the natural
psychical conditions. Ultimately it is this tendency which shaped the
technical apparatus for the economic work until the muscle movements
could become rhythmical. The rhythmical activity necessarily involves
a psychophysical saving and this saving has been instinctively secured
throughout the history of civilization. All rhythm contains a
repetition of movement without making a real repetition of the
psychophysical impulse necessary. In the rhythmical activity a large
part of the first excitement still serves for the second, and the
second for the third. Inhibitions fall away and the mere after-effect
of each stimulus secures a great saving for the new impulse. The
history of the machine even indicates that the newer technical
development not only found the far-reaching division of labor already
in the workshops of earlier centuries, but a no less far-reaching
rhythmization of the labor in fine adaptation to the needs of the
psychophysical organism, long before the appearance of the machines.
The beginnings of the machine period frequently showed nothing but an
imitation of the rhythmical movements of man.[26] To be sure, the
later improvements of the machine have frequently destroyed that
original rhythm of man's movement, as the movement itself, especially
in the electric machines, has become so quick that the subjective
rhythmical experience has been lost. Moreover, the rhythmical
horizontal and vertical movements were for physical reasons usually
replaced by uniform circular movements. But even the most highly
developed machine demands human activity, for instance, for the
supplying with material; and this again has opened new possibilities
for the adjustment of technical mechanism to the economic demand for
rhythmical muscle activity. The growth of technical devices has thus
been constantly under the control of psychological demands, in spite
of the absence of systematic psychological investigations. But the
decisive factor was, indeed, that these psychological motives always
remained in the subconsciousness of civilization. The improvements
were consciously referred to the machine as such, however much the
practical success was really influenced by the degree of its
adjustment to the mental conditions of the workingmen. The new
movements of scientific management and of experimental psychology aim
toward bringing this adaptation consciously into the foreground and
toward testing and studying systematically what technical variations
can best suit the psychophysical status of man.

Those who are familiar with the achievements of scientific management
remember that by no means only the complicated procedures on a high
level are in question. The successes are often the most surprising
where the technique is old, and where it might have been imagined that
the experiences of many centuries would have secured through mere
common sense the most effective performance. The best-known case is
perhaps that of the masons, which one of the leaders of the scientific
management movement has studied in all its details.[27] The movements
of the builders and the tools which they use were examined with
scientific exactitude and slowly reshaped under the point of view of
psychology and physiology. The total result was that after the new
method 30 masons completed without greater fatigue what after the old
methods it would have taken 100 masons to do, and that the total
expense for the building was reduced to less than a half in spite of
the steady increase of the wages of the laborers. For this purpose it
was necessary that exact measurements be made of the height at which
the bricks were lying and of the height of the wall on which they must
be laid, and of the number of bricks which should be carried to the
masons at once. He studied how the trowel should be shaped and how the
mortar should be used and how the bricks should be carried to the
bricklayers. In short, everything which usually is left to tradition,
to caprice, and to an economy which looks out only for the most
immediate saving, was on the basis of experiments of many years
replaced by entirely new means and tools, where nothing was left to
arbitrariness. Yet these changes did not demand any invention or
physically or economically new ideas, but merely a more careful
adaptation of the apparatus to the psychological energies of the
masons. The new arrangement permitted a better organization of the
necessary bodily movements, fatigue was diminished, the accessory
movements were better fructified, fewer inhibitions were necessary, a
better playing together of the psychical energies was secured.

The students of scientific management stepped still lower in the scale
of economic activity. There is no more ordinary productive function
than shoveling. Yet in great establishments the shoveling of coal or
of dirt may represent an economically very important factor. It seems
that up to the days of scientific management, no one really looked
carefully into the technical conditions under which the greatest
possible economic effect might be reached. Now the act of shoveling
was approached with the carefulness with which a scholar turns to any
subtle process in his laboratory. The brilliant originator of the
scientific management movement, who carried out these investigations[28]
in the great Bethlehem Steel Works, where hundreds of laborers had to
shovel heavy iron ore or light ashes, found that the usual chance
methods involve an absurd economic waste. The burden was sometimes so
heavy that rapid fatigue developed and the movements became too slow,
or the lifted mass was so light that the larger part of the laborer's
energies remained unused. In either case the final result of the day's
work must be anti-economic. He therefore tested with carefully graded
experiments what weight ensured the most favorable achievement by a
strong healthy workingman. The aim was to find the weight which would
secure with well-arranged pauses the maximum product in one day
without over-fatigue. As soon as this weight was determined, a
special set of shovels had to be constructed for every particular kind
of material. The laborers were now obliged to operate with 10
different kinds of shovels, each of such a size that the burden always
remained an average of 21 pounds for any kind of material. The
following step was an exact determination of the most favorable
rapidity and the most perfect movement of shoveling, the best
distribution of pauses, and so on, and the final outcome was that only
140 men were needed where on the basis of the old plan about 500
laborers had been engaged. The average workingman who had previously
shoveled 16 tons of material, now managed 59 tons without greater
fatigue. The wages were raised by two thirds and the expenses for
shoveling a ton of material were decreased one half This calculation
of expenses included, of course, a consideration of the increased cost
for tools and for the salaries of the scientific managers.

Whoever visits factories in which the new system has been introduced
by real specialists must be surprised, indeed, by the great effects
which often result from the better psychophysical adaptation of the
simplest and apparently most indifferent tools and means. As far as
the complicated machines are concerned, we are accustomed to a steady
improvement by the efforts of the technicians and we notice it rather
little if the changes in them are introduced for psychological instead
of the usual physical reasons. But the fact that even the least
complicated and most indifferent devices can undergo most influential
improvements, as soon as they are seriously studied from a
psychological point of view, remains really a source for surprise.
Sometimes no more is needed than a change in the windows or in the
electric lamps, by which the light can fall on the work in a
psychologically satisfactory way; sometimes long series of experiments
have to be made with a simple hammer or knife or table. Often
everything must be arranged against the wishes of the workingmen, who
feel any deviation from the accustomed conditions as a disturbance
which is to be regarded with suspicion. In one concern I heard that
the scientific manager became convinced that all the working-chairs
for the women were too low and that the laborers therefore had to hold
their arms in a psychophysically unfavorable position during the
handling of the apparatus. All were strongly opposed to the
introduction of higher chairs. The result was that the manager
arranged for the chairs to be raised a few millimeters every evening,
without the knowledge of the working-women, as soon as the factory was
empty. After a few weeks the chairs had reached the right height
without those engaged in the work having noticed it at all. The
outcome was a decided increase of efficiency.

But the most rational scheme will after all be to prepare for such
arrangements of tools and apparatus by systematic experiments in the
psychological laboratory. The subtlety of such investigations will
lead far beyond the point which is accessible to the attempts of
scientific management. Exact experiments on attention, for instance,
will have to determine how the various parts of the apparatus are to
be distributed best in space if the laborer must keep watch for
disturbances at various places. Only the laboratory experiment can
find the most favorable speed of the machine or can select the muscles
to which the mind can send the most effective impulses. The
construction of the machine must then be adapted to such results. In
the Harvard laboratory, for instance, a practical question led us to
examine which fingers would allow the quickest alternation of key
movements.[29] If any two of the ten fingers perform for ten seconds
the quickest possible alternation of motion, as in a trill, the
experiment can demonstrate exactly the differences between the various
combinations of fingers and the individual fluctuations for these
differences. With an electrical registration of the movements of the
alternating fingers we studied in hundredths of a second the time for
the motions of two hands and of fingers of the same hand, in order to
adjust the keys of a certain machine to the most favorable impulses.

We approach this group of problems from another side when we test the
relations of various kinds of machines to various mental types.
Psychologists have studied, for example, the various styles of
typewriting machines.[30] From a purely commercial point of view the
merits of one or another machine are praised as if they were
advantageous for every possible human being. The fact is that such
advantages for one may be disadvantages for another on account of
differences in the mental disposition. One man may write more quickly
on one, another on another machine. As every one knows, the chief
difference is that of the keyboard and that of the visible or
invisible writing. Machines like the Remington machine work with a
shift key; that is, a special key must be pressed when capital letters
are to be written. Other machines like the Oliver even demand double
shifting, one key for the capital letters, and one for the figures,
and so on. On the other hand, machines like the Smith Premier have no
shift key, but a double keyboard. It is evident that both the
shift-key arrangement and the double keyboard have their particular
psychological advantages.

The single alphabet demands much less from the optical memory, and the
corresponding motor inner attitude of consciousness is adjusted to a
smaller number of possibilities. But the pressure on the shift key,
which goes with the single alphabet, is not only a time-wasting act;
from the psychological point of view it is first of all a very strong
interruption of the uniform chain of impulses. If the capital and
small letters are written for a minute alternatingly with the greatest
possible speed, the experiment shows that the number of letters for
the machine with the double alphabet is about three times greater than
for the machine with simple alphabet and shift key. Both systems
accordingly have their psychological advantages and disadvantages.
Human beings of distinct visual ideational type or of highly developed
motor type will prefer the double alphabet, provided, of course, that
the touch system of writing is learned, and this will be especially
true if their inner attitude is easily disturbed by interruptions. But
those who have a feebly developed optical mental centre and who have
small ability for the development of complex motor habits will be more
efficient on the machines with the single alphabet, especially if
their nervous system is little molested by interruptions and thus
undisturbed by the intrusion of the shift key act.

In a similar way the visibility of the writing will be for certain
individuals the most valuable condition for quick writing, while for
others, who depend less upon visual support, it may mean rather a
distraction and an interference with the speediest work. The visible
writing attracts the involuntary attention, and thus forces
consciousness to stick to that which has been written instead of being
concentrated on that which is to be produced by the next writing
movements. The operator himself is not aware of this hindrance. On the
contrary, the public will always be inclined to prefer the typewriters
with visible writing, because by a natural confusion the feeling
arises that the production of the letter is somewhat facilitated, when
the eye is coöperating, just as in writing with a pen we follow the
lines of the written letter. But the situation lies differently in the
two cases. When we are writing with a pen, the letter grows under our
eyes, while in the machine writing we do not see any part of the
letter until the whole movement which produces the single letter is
finished. By such a misleading analogy many a man is led to prefer the
typewriter with visible writing, while he would probably secure a
greater speed with a machine which does not tempt him to attend the
completed letters, while his entire attention ought to belong to the
following letters.

These last observations point to another psychological aspect of the
machine and of the whole technical work, namely, their relations to
the impressions of the senses. The so-called dynamogenic experiments
of the psychological laboratory have demonstrated what a manifold
influence flows from the sense-impressions to the will-impulses. If
the muscle contraction of a man's fist is measured, the experiment
shows that the strongest possible pressure may be very different when
the visual field appears in different colors, or tones of different
pitch or different noises are stimulating the ear, and so on. As yet
no systematic experiments exist by which such results can be brought
into relation to the sense-stimuli which reach the laborer during his
technical work. The psychophysical effect of colors and noises has not
been fructified at all for industrial purposes. The mere subjective
judgment of the workingman himself cannot be acknowledged as reliable
in such questions. The laborer, for instance, usually believes that a
noise to which he has become accustomed does not disturb him in his
work, while experimental results point strongly to the contrary. In a
similar way the effect of colored windows may appear indifferent to
the workmen, and yet may have considerable influence on his
efficiency. Numberless performances in the factory are reactions on
certain optical or acoustical or tactual signals. Both the engineer
and the workman are satisfied if such a signal is clearly perceivable.
The psychological laboratory experiment, however, shows that the whole
psychophysical effect depends upon the character of the signal; a more
intense light, a quicker change, a higher tone, a larger field of
light, a louder noise, or a harder touch may produce a very different
kind of reaction.

With a careful time-measurement of the motions, it can often be
directly traced how purely technical processes in the machine itself
influence and control the whole psychical system of impulses in the
man. I observed, in a factory, for instance, the work at a machine
which performed most of its functions automatically. It had to hammer
fine grooves into small metal plates. A young laborer stood before
every such machine, took from a pile, alternately from the right and
from the left, the little plates to be serrated, placed them in the
machine, turned a lever to bring the hammer into motion, and then
removed the serrated plates. The speed of the work was dependent upon
the operative, as he determined by his lever movement the instant at
which the automatic serrating hammer should be released. The man's
activity demanded 9 independent movements. I found that those who
worked the most quickly were able to carry out this labor for hours at
a uniform rapidity of 4 to 4-1/2 second for those 9 movements. But the
time-measurement showed that even these fastest workers were
relatively slow in the first 5 movements which they made while the
machine stood quiet, and that they reached an astonishing quickness of
movement in the 4 last actions during which at the same time the
serrating hammer in bewildering rapidity was beating on the plate with
sharp loud cracks. The hammer reinforced the energy of the young
laborers to an effectiveness which could never have been attained by
mere voluntary effort.

Often the simplicity or complication of the stimulus may be decisive
in importance, and this also holds true where the most elementary
reactions are involved, for instance, the mere act of counting which
enters into many industrial functions. Experiments carried on in my
laboratory[31] have shown that the time needed to count a certain
number of units becomes longer as soon as the units themselves become
more complicated. Their inner manifoldness exerts a retarding
influence on the eye as it moves from one figure to another. A certain
psychical inhibition arises; the mind is held back by the complexity
of the impression and cannot proceed quickly enough to the next.
Psychologically no less important is the demand that the external
technical conditions so far as they influence consciousness, should
remain as far as possible the same, if the same psychical effect is
desired, because then only can a perfectly firm connection between
stimulus and movement be formed. In technical life this demand is much
sinned against. A typical case is that of the signals for which the
engineer on the locomotive has to watch. In the daytime the movable
arms of the semaphore indicate by their horizontal, oblique, or
vertical position whether the tracks are clear. At night-time, on the
other hand, the same information reaches him by the different colors
of the signal lanterns. From a psychical point of view it is probable
that the safety of the service would be increased if an unchangeable
connection between signal and movement were formed. It would be
sufficient for that purpose if the color signals at night were given
up and were replaced by horizontal, oblique, or vertical lines of
white light or rows of points. Successful experiments of this kind
have been carried on by psychologists in the service of this railroad
problem.[32]

The interest in all these problems of large concerns, in
transportation and factory work and complex industries, ought not to
make us overlook the fact that on principle the same problems can be
found in the simplest industrial establishment. Even the housewife or
the cook destroys economic values if daily she has to spend useless
minutes or hours on account of arrangements in the household which are
badly adjusted to the psychological conditions. She sacrifices her
energy in vain and she wastes her means where she herself is under the
illusion of especial economy. Scientific management would perhaps be
nowhere so wholesome as in kitchen and pantry, in laundry and cellar,
just because here the saving would be multiplied millionfold and the
final sum of energy saved and of feeling values gained would be
enormous, even if it could not be calculated with the exactitude with
which the savings of a factory budget can be proven. The profusion of
small attractive devices which automatically perform the economic
household labor and disburden the human workers must not hide the fact
that the chief activities are still little adjusted to the
psychophysical conditions. The situation is similar to that of the
masons, whose function has also been performed for thousands of years,
and yet which did not find a real adaptation to the psychical factors
until a systematic time-measuring study was introduced. A manufacturer
who sells an improved pan or mixing-spoon or broom expects success if
he brings to the market something the merits of which are evident and
make the housewife anticipate a decrease of work or a simplification
of work, but the development of scientific management has shown
clearly that the most important improvements are just those which are
deduced from scientific researches, without at first giving
satisfaction to the laborers themselves, until a new habit has been
formed.

Perhaps the most frequent technical activity of this simple kind is
sewing by hand, which is still entirely left to the traditions of
common sense, and yet which is evidently dependent upon the interplay
of many psychical factors which demand a subtle adaptation to the
psychical conditions. To approach, at least, this field of human labor
a careful investigation of the psychophysics of sewing has been
started in my laboratory.[33] The sewing work is done, with the left
hand supported, and the right hand connected with a system of levers
which make a graphic record of every movement on the smoked surface of
a revolving drum. For instance, we begin with simple over and over
stitches, measuring the time and the character of the right hand
movements for 50 stitches under a variety of technical conditions. The
first variation refers to the length of the thread. The thread itself,
fixed at the needle's eye, varied between 3 feet and 6 inches in
length. Other changes refer to the voluntary speed, to the number of
stitches, to fatigue, to external stimuli, to attention, to methods of
training, and so on, but the chief interest remains centred on the
psychical factors. We are still too much at the beginning already to
foresee whether it will be possible to draw from these psychophysical
experiments helpful conclusions. The four young women engaged in this
laboratory research will later extend it to the psychological
conditions of work with the various types of sewing-machines.



XV

THE ECONOMY OF MOVEMENT


The study of the technical aspect of labor can nowhere be separated by
a sharp demarcation line from the study of the labor itself as a
function of the individual organism. Many problems, indeed, extend in
both directions. The student of industrial efficiency is, for
instance, constantly led to the question of fatigue. He may consider
this fatigue as a function of brain and muscle activity and discuss it
with reference to the psychophysical effort, but he is equally
interested in the question of how far the apparatus or the machine or
the accessory conditions of the work might be changed in order to
avoid fatigue. The accidents of the electric street railways were
regarded as partly related to fatigue. The problem was accordingly how
to shorten the working time of the motormen in the interest of the
public, but it was soon recognized that the difficulty might also be
approached from the mere technical side. Some companies introduced
seats which the motormen can use whenever they feel fatigue coming and
excellent results have followed this innovation. In our last
discussions the technical apparatus stood in the foreground. We may
now consider as our real topic the psychophysical activity.

Here, too, the leaders of scientific management have secured some
signal successes. Their chief effort in this field was directed toward
the greatest possible achievement by eliminating all superfluous
movements and by training in those movement combinations which were
recognized as the most serviceable ones. We may return to the case of
the masons in order to clear up the principle. When Gilbreth began to
reform the labor of the mason after scientific principles, he gave his
chief interest to the men's motions. Every muscle contraction which
was needed to move the brick from the pile in the yard to the final
position in the wall was measured with reference to space-and
time-relations and the necessary effort. From here he turned to the
application of well-known psychophysical principles. A movement is
less fatiguing and therefore economically most profitable if it occurs
in a direction in which the greatest possible use of gravitation can
be made If both hands have to act at the same time, the labor can be
carried out most quickly and with the smallest effort if corresponding
muscle groups are at work and this means if symmetrical movements are
performed. If unequal movements have to be made simultaneously, the
effort will become smaller if they are psychically bound together by a
common unified impulse. The distance which has to be overcome by
hands, arms, or feet must be brought to a minimum for each partial
movement. Most important, however, is this rule. If a definite
combination of movements has been determined as economically most
suitable, this method must be applied without any exception from the
beginning of the learning. The point is to train from the start those
impulse combinations which can slowly lead to the quickest and best
work. The usual method is the opposite. Generally the beginner learns
to produce from the beginning work which is as good and correct as
possible. In order to produce such qualitatively good results at an
early stage, it is left to him to choose any groups of movements which
happen to be convenient to him. Then these become habitual, and as
soon as he tries to go on to quicker work, these chance habits hinder
him in his progress. The movements which may be best suited for fair
production by a beginner may be entirely unsuited for really quick
work, such as would be expected from an experienced man. The laborer
must replace the first habits which he has learned by a new set,
instead of starting in the first place with motions which can be
continued until the highest point of efficiency has been reached,
even if this involves rather a poor showing at the beginning. A final
maximum rapidity must be secured from the start by the choice of those
motions which have been standardized by careful experiments.

It is also psychophysically important to demand that the movements
shall not be suddenly stopped, if that can be avoided. Any
interruption of a movement presupposes a special effort of the will
which absorbs energy, and after the interruption a new start must be
made of which the same is true. On the other hand, if chains of
movements become habitual, the psychophysical effort will be reduced
to the minimum, inasmuch as each movement finds its natural end and is
not artificially interrupted by will, and at the same time each
movement itself becomes a stimulus for the next movement by its
accompanying sensations. The traditional method, for instance, demands
that a brick be lifted with one hand and a trowel with mortar by the
other hand. After that the lifting movement is interrupted, the brick
comes to rest in the hand of the mason until the mortar has been
spread on and the place prepared for the new brick. Then only begins a
new action with the brick. This method was fundamentally changed. The
laborers learned to swing the brick with one hand from the pack to
the wall and at the same time to distribute the mortar over the next
brick with the other hand. This whole complex movement is of course
more difficult and demands a somewhat longer period of learning, but
as soon as it is learned an extreme saving of psychophysical energy
and a correspondingly great economic gain is secured. The newly
trained masons are not even allowed to gather up with the trowel any
mortar which falls to the floor, because it was found that the loss of
mortar is economically less important than the waste of psychophysical
energy in bending down.

Whoever has once schooled his eye to observe the limitless waste of
human motions and psychophysical efforts in social life has really no
difficulty in perceiving all this at every step. This ability to
recognize possible savings of impulse may be brought to a certain
virtuosity. Gilbreth, one of the leaders of the new movement, seems to
be such a virtuoso. When he was in London, there was pointed out to
him in the Japanese British Exhibition a young girl who worked so
quickly that there at least he would find a rhythm of finger movement
which could not any further be improved. In an exhibition booth the
woman attached advertisement labels to boxes with phenomenal rapidity.
Gilbreth watched her for a little while and found that she was able
to manage 24 boxes in 40 seconds. Then he told the young girl that she
was doing it wrongly, and that she ought to try a new way which he
showed her. At the first attempt, she disposed of 24 boxes in 26
seconds and at the second trial in 20 seconds. She did not have to
make more effort for it, but simply had fewer movements to make. If
such economic gain can be secured with little exertion in the simplest
processes, it cannot be surprising that in the case of more complex
and more advanced technical work which involves highly skilled labor,
a careful psychophysical study of motions must bring far-reaching
economic improvements.

Yet the more important steps will have to be guided by special
experimental investigations, and here the psychological laboratory
must undertake the elaboration of the details. Only the systematic
experiment can determine what impulses can be released at the least
expense of energy and with the greatest exactitude of the motor
effect. Investigations on the psychophysics of movement and the
influences which lead toward making the movement too large or too
small have played an important rôle in the psychological laboratories
for several decades. It was recognized early that the mistakes which
are made in reproducing a movement may spring from two different
sources. They result partly from an erroneous perception or memory of
the movement carried out, and partly from the inability to realize the
movement intention. One series of investigations was accordingly
devoted to the studies of those sensations and perceptions by which we
become aware of the actual movement. Everything which accentuates
these sensations must lead to an overestimation of the motion, and the
outcome is that the movement is made too small. The concentration of
attention, therefore, has the effect of reducing the actual motion,
and the same influence must result from any resistance which is not
recognized as such and hence is not subtracted in the judgment of the
perceiver. Another series of researches was concerned with the inner
attitude which causes a certain external movement effect and which may
lead to an unintended amount of movement as soon as the weight to be
lifted is erroneously judged upon. Closely related studies, finally,
deal with a mistake which enters when the movement is reproduced from
memory after a certain time. The exactitude of a simple arm movement
seems to increase in the first ten seconds, then rapidly to decrease.
The emotional attitude, too, is of importance for the reproduction of
a movement. I trained myself in making definite extensor and flexor
movements of the arm until I was able to reproduce them under normal
conditions with great exactitude. In experiments extending over many
months, which were carried on through the changing emotional attitudes
of daily life, the exact measurement showed that both groups of
movements became too large in states of excitement and too small in
states of fatigue. But in a state of satisfaction and joy the extensor
movement became too large, the flexor movement too small, and _vice
versa_, in unpleasant emotional states the flexor movement was too
strong and the extensor movement too weak.[34]

We have a very careful investigation into the relations between
rapidity of movement and exactitude.[35] The subjects had to perform a
hand movement simultaneously with the beat of a metronome, the beats
of which varied between 20 and 200 in the minute. In general the
accuracy of the movement decreases as the rapidity increases, but the
descent is not uniform. Motions in the rhythm of 40 to the minute were
on the whole just as exact as those in the rhythm of 20, and, on the
other hand movements in the rhythm of 200 almost as accurate as those
of 140 to the minute. Thus we have a lower limit below which decrease
of rapidity does not increase the accuracy any further, and an upper
limit beyond which a further increase of rapidity brings no
additional deterioration. The mistakes of the unskilled left hand
increase still more rapidly than the number of movements. If the eyes
are closed, the rapid movements are usually too long and the slow ones
too short.

An investigation in the Harvard laboratory varied this problem in a
direction which brings it still nearer to technical conditions of
industry. Our central question was whether the greatest exactitude of
rhythmical movement is secured at the same rapidity for different
muscle groups.[36] We studied especially rhythmical movements of hand,
foot, arm, and head, and studied them, moreover, under various
conditions of resistance. The result from 340,000 measured movements
was the demonstration that every muscle group has its own optimum of
rapidity for the greatest possible accuracy and that the complexity of
the movement and the resistance which it finds has most significant
influence on the exactitude of the rhythmical achievement. If we
abstract at first from the fluctuations around the average value of a
particular group of movements and consider only this average itself in
its relation to the starting movement which it is meant to imitate, we
find characteristic tendencies toward enlargement or reduction
dependent upon the rapidity. The right foot, for instance, remained
nearest to the original movement at a rapidity of 80 motions in the
minute, while the head did the same at about 20. For a hand movement
of 14 centimeters, the most favorable rapidity was 120 repetitions in
the minute, while for a hand movement of 1 centimeter the average
remained nearest to the standard at about 40 repetitions. The mean
variation from time average is the smallest for the left foot at 20 to
30 movements, for the right at 160 to 180, for the head at 40, for the
larger hand movement at 180, and so on. Investigations of this kind
have so far not affected industrial life in the least, but it seems
hardly doubtful that a systematic study of the movements necessary for
economic work will have to pass through such strictly experimental
phases. The essential point, however, will be for the managers of the
industrial concerns and the psychological laboratory workers really to
come nearer to each other from the start and undertake the work in
common, not in the sense that the laboratory is to emigrate to the
factory, but in the better sense that definite questions which grow
out of the industrial life be submitted to the scientific
investigation of the psychologists.



XVI

EXPERIMENTS ON THE PROBLEM OF MONOTONY


The systematic organization of movements with most careful regard to
the psychophysical conditions appeared to us the most momentous aid
toward the heightening of efficiency. But even if the superfluous,
unfit, and interfering movement impulses were eliminated and the
conditions of work completely adjusted to the demands of psychology,
there would still remain a large number of possibilities through which
productiveness might be greatly decreased, or at least kept far below
the possible maximum of efficiency. For instance, even the best
adapted labor might be repeated to the point of exhaustion, at which
the workman and the work would be ruined. Fatigue and restoration
accordingly demand especial consideration. In a similar way emotions
may be conditions of stimulation or interference, and no one ought to
underestimate the importance of higher motives, intellectual,
æsthetic, and moral motives, in their bearing on the psychophysical
impulses of the laborer. If these higher demands are satisfied, the
whole system gains a new tonus, and if they are disappointed, the
irritation of the mental machinery may do more harm than any break in
the physical machine at which the man is working. In short, we must
still look in various directions to become aware of all the relations
between the psychological factors and the economic output. We may
begin with one question which plays a large, perhaps too large, rôle
in the economic and especially in the popular economic literature. I
refer to the problem of monotony of labor.

In the discourses of our time on the lights and shades of our modern
industrial life, all seem to agree that the monotony of industrial
labor ought to be entered on the debit side of the ledger of
civilization. Since the days when factories began to spring up, the
accusation that through the process of division of labor the
industrial workingman no longer has any chance to see a whole product,
but that he has to devote himself to the minutest part of a part, has
remained one of the matter-of-course arguments. The part of a part
which he has to cut or polish or shape in endless repetition without
alteration cannot awake any real interest. This complete division of
labor has to-day certainly gone far beyond anything which Adam Smith
described, and therefore it now appears undeniable that the method
must create a mental starvation which presses down the whole life of
the laborer, deprives it of all joy in work, and makes the factory
scheme a necessary but from the standpoint of psychology decidedly
regrettable evil. I have become more and more convinced that the
scientific psychologist is not obliged to endorse this judgment of
popular psychology.

To be sure the problem of division of labor, as it appears in the
subdivision of manufacture, is intimately connected with many other
related questions. It quickly leads to the much larger question of
division of labor in our general social structure, which is necessary
for our social life with its vocational and professional demands, and
which undoubtedly narrows to a certain degree every individual in the
completeness of his human desires. No man in modern society can devote
himself to everything for which his mind may long. But as a matter of
course these large general problems of civilization lie outside of the
realm of our present inquiry. In another direction the problem of
monotony comes very near to the question of fatigue. But we must see
clearly that these two questions are not identical and that we may
discuss monotony here without arguing the problem of fatigue. The
frequent repetition of the same movement or of the same mental
activity certainly may condition an objective fatigue, which may
interfere with the economic output, but this is not the real meaning
of the problem of monotony. About fatigue we shall speak later. Here
we are concerned exclusively with that particular psychological
attitude which we know as subjective dislike of uniformity and lack of
change in the work. Within these limits the question of monotony is,
indeed, frequently misunderstood in its economic significance.

Let us not forget that the outsider can hardly ever judge when work
offers or does not offer inner manifoldness. If we do not know and
really understand the subject, we are entirely unable to discriminate
the subtler inner differences. The shepherd knows every sheep, though
the passer-by has the impression that they all look alike. This
inability to recognize the differences which the man at work feels
distinctly shows itself even in the most complicated activities. The
naturalist is inclined to fancy that the study of a philologist must
be endlessly monotonous, and the philologist is convinced that it must
be utterly tiresome to devote one's self a life lone to some minute
questions of natural science. Only when one stands in the midst of the
work is he aware of its unlimited manifoldness, and feels how every
single case is somehow different from every other.

In the situation of the industrial workman, the attention may be
directed toward some small differences which can only be recognized
after long familiarity with the particular field. Certainly this field
is small, as every workman must specialize, but whether he
manufactures a whole machine, or only a little wheel, makes no
essential difference in the attitude. The attraction of newness is
quickly lost also in the case of the most complicated machine. On the
other hand, the fact that such a machine has an independent function
does not give an independent attraction to the work. Or we might
rather say, as far as the work on a whole machine is of independent
value, the work of perfecting the little wheel is an independent task
also and offers equal value by its own possibilities. Whoever has
recognized the finest variations among the single little wheels and
has become aware of how they are produced sometimes better, sometimes
worse, sometimes more quickly, sometimes more slowly, becomes as much
interested in the perfecting of the minute part as another man in the
manufacture of the complex machine. It is true that the laborer does
not feel interest in the little wheel itself, but in the production of
the wheel. Every new movement necessary for it has a perfectly new
chance and stands in new relations, which have nothing to do with the
repetition. As a matter of course this interest in the always new best
possible method of production is still strongly increased where
piece-wages are introduced. The laborer knows that the amount of his
earning depends upon the rapidity with which he finishes faultless
products. Under this stimulus he is in a continuous race with himself,
and thus has every reason to prefer the externally uniform and
therefore perfectly familiar work to another kind which may bring
alternation, but which also brings ever new demands.

For a long while I have tried to discover in every large factory which
I have visited the particular job which from the standpoint of the
outsider presents itself as the most tiresome possible. As soon as I
found it, I had a full frank talk with the man or woman who performed
it and earnestly tried to get self-observational comment. My chief aim
was to bring out how far the mere repetition, especially when it is
continued through years, is felt as a source of discomfort. I may
again point to a few chance illustrations. In an electrical factory
with many thousands of employees I gained the impression that the
prize for monotonous work belonged to a woman who packs incandescent
lamps in tissue paper. She wraps them from morning until night, from
the first day of the year to the last, and has been doing that for
the last 12 years. She performs this packing process at an average
rate of 13,000 lamps a day. The woman has reached about 50,000,000
times for the next lamp with one hand and with the other to the little
pile of tissue sheets and then performed the packing. Each lamp
demands about 20 finger movements. As long as I watched her, she was
able to pack 25 lamps in 42 seconds, and only a few times did she need
as many as 44 seconds. Every 25 lamps filled a box, and the closing of
the box required a short time for itself. She evidently took pleasure
in expressing herself fully about her occupation. She assured me that
she found the work really interesting, and that she constantly felt an
inner tension, thinking how many boxes she would be able to fill
before the next pause. Above all, she told me that there is continuous
variation. Sometimes she grasps the lamp or paper in a different way,
sometimes the packing itself does not run smoothly, sometimes she
feels fresher, sometimes less in the mood for the work, and there is
always something to observe and something to think about.

This was the trend which I usually found. In some large machine works
I sought for a long time before I found the type of labor which seemed
to me the most monotonous. I finally settled on a man who was feeding
an automatic machine which was cutting holes in metal strips and who
simply had to push the strips slowly forward; only when the strip did
not reach exactly the right place, he could stop the automatic machine
by a lever. He made about 34,000 uniform movements daily and had been
doing that for the past 14 years. But he gave me the same account,
that the work was interesting and stimulating, while he himself made
the impression of an intelligent workingman. At the beginning, he
reported, the work had sometimes been quite fatiguing, but later he
began to like it more and more. I imagined that this meant that at
first he had to do the work with full attention and that the complex
movement had slowly become automatic, allowing him to perform it like
a reflex movement and to turn his thoughts to other things. But he
explained to me in full detail that this was not the case, that he
still feels obliged to devote his thoughts entirely to the work at
hand, and that he is able only under these conditions to bring in the
daily wage which he needs for his family, as he is paid for every
thousand holes. But he added especially that it is not only the wage
which satisfies him, but that he takes decided pleasure in the
activity itself.

On the other hand, I not seldom found wage-earners, both men and
women, who seemed to have really interesting and varied activities and
who nevertheless complained bitterly over the monotonous, tiresome
factory labor. I became more and more convinced that the feeling of
monotony depends much less upon the particular kind of work than upon
the special disposition of the individual. It cannot be denied that
the same contrast exists in the higher classes of work. We find
school-teachers who constantly complain that it is intolerably
monotonous to go on teaching immature children the rudiments of
knowledge, while other teachers with exactly the same task before them
are daily inspired anew by the manifoldness of life in the classroom.
We find physicians who complain that one case in their practice is
like another, and judges who despair because they always have to deal
with the same petty cases, while other judges and physicians feel
clearly that every case offers something new and that the repetition
as such is neither conspicuous nor disagreeable. We find actors who
feel it a torture to play the same rôle every evening for several
weeks, and there are actors who, as one of the most famous actresses
assured me after the four hundredth performance of her star rôle,
repeat their parts many hundred times with undiminished interest,
because they feel that they are always speaking to new audiences. It
seems not impossible that this individual difference might be
connected with deeper-lying psychophysical conditions. I approached
the question, to be sure, with a preconceived theory. I fancied that
certain persons had a finer, subtler sense for differences than others
and that they would recognize a manifoldness of variations where the
others would see only uniformity. In that I silently presupposed that
the perception of the uniformity must be something disturbing and
disagreeable and the recognition of variations something which
stimulates the mind pleasantly. But when I came to examine the
question experimentally, I became convinced that such a hypothesis is
erroneous, and if I interpret the results correctly, I should say that
practically the opposite relation exists. Those who recognize the
uniformities readily are not the ones who are disturbed by them.

I proceeded in the following way. To make use of a large number of
subjects accustomed to intelligent self-observation, I made the first
series of experiments with the regular students in my psychology
lecture course in Harvard University. Last winter I had more than four
hundred men students in psychology who all took part in that
introductory series. The task which I put before them in a number of
variations was this: I used lists of words of which half, or one more
or less than half, belonged to one single conceptional group. There
were names of flowers, or cities, or poets, or parts of the body, or
wild animals, and so on. The remaining words of the list, on the other
hand, were without inner connection and without similarity. The
similar and the dissimilar words were mixed. The subjects listened to
such a list of words and then had to decide without counting from the
mere impression whether the similar words were more or equally or less
numerous than the dissimilar words. In other experiments the
arrangement was that two different lists were read and that in the two
lists a larger or smaller number of words were repeated from the first
list. Here, too, the subjects had to decide from the mere impression
whether the repeated words were in the majority or not. In every
experiment the judgment referred to those words which belonged to the
same group and which were in this sense uniform, or to the repeated
words, and it had to be stated with reference to them whether their
number was larger, equal to, or smaller than the different words. If
all replies had been correct, the judgment would have been 40 per cent
equal, 30 per cent smaller, and 30 per cent larger, as they were
arranged in perfect symmetry. As soon as I had the results from the
students, we figured out for every one what number he judged equal,
smaller, or greater. Then we divided the equal judgments by 2 and
added half of them to the larger and half to the smaller judgments. In
this way we were enabled by one figure to characterize the whole
tendency of the individual. We found that in the whole student body
there was a tendency to underestimate the number of the similar or of
the repeated words. The majority of my students had a stronger
impression from the varying objects than from those which were in a
certain sense equal. Yet this tendency appeared in very different
degrees and for about a fourth of the participants the opposite
tendency prevailed. They received a stronger impression from the
uniform ideas.

I had coupled with these experimental tests a series of questions, and
had asked every subject to express with fullest possible self-analysis
his practical attitude to monotony in life. Every one had to give an
account whether in the small habits of life he liked variety or
uniform repetition. He was asked especially as to his preferences for
or against uniformity in the daily meals, daily walks, and so on.
Furthermore he had to report how far he is inclined to stick to one
kind of work or to alternate his work, how far he welcomes the idea
that vocational work may bring repetition, and so on. And finally I
tried to bring the results of these self-observations into relation
with the results of those experiments. It was here that the opposite
of the hypothesis which I had presupposed suggested itself to me with
surprising force. I found that just the ones who perceive the
repetition least hate it most, and that those who have a strong
perception of the uniform impressions and who overestimate their
number are the ones who on the whole welcome repetition in life.

As soon as I had reached this first experimental result, I began to
see how it might harmonize with known psychological facts. Some years
ago a Hungarian psychologist[37] showed by interesting experiments
that if a series of figures is exposed to the eye for a short fraction
of a second, equal digits are seen only once, and he came to the
conclusion that equal impressions in such a series inhibit each other.
In the Harvard laboratory we varied these experiments by eliminating
the spatial separation of those numbers. In our experiments the digits
did not stand side by side, but followed one another very quickly in
the same place.[38] Similar experiments we made with colors and so on.
Here, too, we found that quickly succeeding equal or very similar
impressions have a tendency to inhibit each other or to fuse with
each other. Where such an inhibition occurs, we probably ought to
suppose that the perception of the first impression exhausts the
psychical disposition for this particular mental experience. The
psychophysical apparatus becomes for a moment unable to arouse the
same impression once more.

The above described new experiments suggest to me that this inhibition
of equal or similar impressions is found unequally developed in
different individuals. They possess a different tendency to temporary
exhaustion of psychophysical dispositions. There are evidently persons
who after they have received an impression are unable immediately to
seize the same impression again. Their attention and their whole inner
attitude fails. But there are evidently other persons for whom, on the
contrary, the experience of an impression is a kind of inner
preparation for arousing the same or a similar impression. In their
case the psychophysical dispositions become stimulated and excited,
and therefore favor the repetition. If, as in our experiments, the
task is simply to judge the existence of equal or similar impressions
without any strain of attention, the one group of persons must
underestimate the number of the equal impressions because many words
are simply inhibited in their minds and remain neglected, the other
groups of persons must from their mental dispositions overestimate the
number of similar words. From here we have to take one step more. If
these two groups of persons have to perform a task in which it is
necessary that not a single member of a series of repetitions be
overlooked, it is clear that the two groups must react in a very
different way. Now a perfect perception of every single member is
forced on them. Those who grasp equal impressions easily, and who are
prepared beforehand for every new repetition by their inner
dispositions, will follow the series without strain and will
experience the repetition itself with true satisfaction. On the other
hand, those in whom every impression inhibits the readiness to receive
a repetition, and whose inner energy for the same experience is
exhausted, must feel it as a painful and fatiguing effort if they are
obliged to turn their attention to one member after another in a
uniform series. This mental torture is evidently the displeasure which
such individuals call the dislike of monotony in their work. Whether
this theoretical view is correct, we have to determine by future
studies. In our Harvard laboratory we have now proceeded from such
preparatory mass experiments to subtle investigations on a small
number of persons well trained in psychological self-observation with
whom the conditions of the experiment can be varied in many
directions.[39]

It would seem probable that such experiments might also win
psychotechnical significance. A short series of tests which would have
to be adapted to the special situations, and which for the simple
wage-earner would have to be much easier than those sketched above,
would allow it to be determined beforehand whether an individual will
suffer from repetition in work. Even if we abstract from arguments of
social reform and consider exclusively the economic significance, it
must seem important that labor which involves much repetition be
performed by men and women whose mental dispositions favor an easy
grasp of successive uniform impressions. Experimentation could secure
the selection of the fit workmen and the complaint of monotony would
disappear. The same selection could be useful in the opposite
direction, as many economic occupations, especially in our time of
automatic machines, demand a quick and often rhythmical transition
from one activity to another. It is evident that those whose natural
dispositions make every mental excitement a preparation not for the
identical but for the contrasting stimulation will be naturally
equipped for this kind of economic tasks.



XVII

ATTENTION AND FATIGUE


The problem of monotony may lead us on to other conditions through
which attention is hindered and the product of labor thereby
decreased. The psychologist naturally first thinks of external
distractions of attention. If he turns to practical studies of the
actual economic life, he is often decidedly surprised to find how
little regard is given to this psychophysical factor. In industrial
establishments in which the smallest disturbance in the machine is at
once remedied by a mechanic in order that the greatest possible
economic effect may be secured, frequently nobody takes any interest
in the most destructive disturbances which unnecessarily occur in the
subtlest part of the factory mechanism, namely, the attention
apparatus of the laborers. Such an interference with attention must,
for instance, be recognized when the workingman, instead of devoting
himself to one complex function, has to carry out secondary movements
which appear to be quite easily performed and not to hinder him in his
chief task. Often his own feeling may endorse this impression. Of
course the individual differences in this direction are very great.
The faculty of carrying on at the same time various independent
functions is unequally distributed and the experiment can show this
clearly. It is also well known from practical life that some men can
easily go on dictating to a stenographer while they are affixing their
signature to several hundred circular letters, or can continue their
fluent lecture while they are performing experimental demonstrations.
With others such a side activity continually interrupts the chief
function. Then some succeed better than others in securing a certain
automatism of the accessory function to such a point that its special
acts do not come to consciousness at all. For example, I watched a
laborer who was constantly engaged in a complicated technical
performance, and he seemed to give to it his full attention.
Nevertheless he succeeded in moving a lever on an automatic machine
which stood near by whenever a certain wheel had made fifty
revolutions. During all his work he kept counting the revolutions
without being conscious of any idea of number. A system of motor
reactions had become organized which remained below the threshold of
consciousness and which produced only at the fiftieth recurrence the
conscious psychical impulse to perform the lever movement. Yet whether
the talent for such simultaneous mastery of independent functions be
greater or smaller and the demand more or less complex, in every case
the principal action must be hampered by the side issue. To be sure,
it may sometimes be economically more profitable to allow the
hindrance to the chief work in order to save the expense of an extra
man to do the side work. In most cases, however, such a consideration
is not involved; it is simply an ignoring of the psychological
situation. As the accessory work seems easy, its hindering influence
on other functions is practically overlooked. Psychological laboratory
experiments have shown in many different directions that simultaneous
independent activities always disturb and inhibit one another.

We must not forget that even the conversations of the laborers belong
in this psychophysical class. Where a continuous strain of attention
has produced a state of fatigue, a short conversation will bring a
certain relief and relaxation, and the words which the speaker hears
in reply will produce a general stimulation of psychical energy for
the moment. Moreover, the mere existence of the social conversational
intercourse will raise the general emotional mood, and this feeling of
social pleasure may be the source from which may spring new
psychophysical powers. Nevertheless the fundamental fact, after all,
is that any talking during the labor, so far as it is not necessary
for the work itself, surely involves a distraction of attention. Here,
too, the individual is not conscious of the effect. He feels certain
that he can perform his task just as well, and even the piece-worker,
who is anxious to earn as much as possible, is convinced that he does
not retard himself by conversation. But the experiments which have
been carried on in establishments with scientific management speak
decidedly against such a supposition. A tyrannical demand for silence
would, of course, be felt as cruelty, and no suggestion of a jail-like
discipline would be wise in the case of industrial labor, for evident
psychological reasons. But various factories in rearranging their
establishments according to the principles of scientific management
have changed the positions of the workmen so that conversations become
more difficult or impossible. The result reported seems to be
everywhere a significant increase of production. The individual
concentrates his mind on the task with an intensity which seems beyond
his reach as long as the inner attitude is adjusted to social contact.
The help which is rendered by the feeling of social coöperation, on
the other hand, is not removed by the mere abstaining from speaking.
Interesting psychopedagogical experiments have, indeed, demonstrated
that working in a common room produces better results than isolated
activity. This is not true of the most brilliant, somewhat nervous
school children, who achieve in their own room at home more than in
the classroom. But for the average, which almost alone is in question
for life in the factory, the consciousness of common effort is a
source of psychophysical reinforcement. This evidently remains
effective when the workingmen can see one another, even if the
arrangement of the seats precludes the possibility of chatting during
the work.

However, by far the more important cause of distraction of attention
lies in those disturbances which come from without. Here again the
chief interest ought to be attached to those interferences which the
workman himself no longer feels as such. In a great printing-shop a
woman who was occupied with work which demanded her fullest attention
was seated at her task in an aisle where trucking was done. Removing
this operator to a quiet corner caused an increase of 25 per cent in
her work.[40] To be sure there are many such disturbances in factory
life which can hardly be eliminated with the technical means of
to-day. For instance, the noise of the machines, which in many
factories makes it impossible to communicate except by shouting, must
be classed among the real psychological interferences in spite of the
fact that the laborers themselves usually feel convinced that they no
longer notice it at all. Still more disturbing are strong rhythmical
sounds, such as heavy hammer blows which dominate the continuous
noises, as they force on every individual consciousness a
psychophysical rhythm of reaction which may stand in strong contrast
to that of a man's own work. From the incessant inner struggle of the
two rhythms, the one suggested by the labor, the other by the external
intrusion, quick exhaustion becomes unavoidable.

If it were our purpose to elaborate a real system of psychological
economics, we should have to proceed here to a careful study of the
influences of fatigue on the industrial achievement. We should have to
discuss the various kinds of fatigue and exhaustion, the conditions of
restoration, and the whole group of related problems of psychophysics.
But this is the one field which has been thoroughly ploughed over by
science and by practical life in the course of the last decades. No
new suggestion and no new hint of the importance of the problem is
needed here. Our short discussion was planned to be confined to those
regions which have not been worked up in systematic investigations
and for which new devices seemed desirable. Hence we do not reproduce
here the rich material of facts which the physiologists and
psychophysicists have brought together in the last half-century, the
importance of which for industrial labor is perfectly evident.
Moreover, the practical applications and the insight into the social
needs have transformed the factories themselves into one big
laboratory in which the problem of fatigue has been studied by
practical experiments. The problem of the dependence of fatigue and
output upon the length of the working day has been tested in
numberless places with the methods of really exact research, as it was
easy to find out how the achievement of the laborers became
quantitatively and qualitatively changed by the shortening of the
working hours.

When in one civilized country after another the exhaustingly long
working days of the industrial wage-earner were shortened more and
more, the theoretical discussions of the legislators and of the social
reformers were soon supplemented by careful statistical inquiries in
the factories. It was found that everywhere, even abstracting from all
other cultural and social interests, a moderate shortening of the
working day did not involve loss, but brought a direct gain. The
German pioneer in the movement for the shortening of the workingman's
day, Ernst Abbé, the head of one of the greatest German factories,
wrote many years ago that the shortening from nine to eight hours,
that is, a cutting-down of more than 10 per cent, did not involve a
reduction of the day's product, but an increase, and that this
increase did not result from any supplementary efforts by which the
intensity of the work would be reinforced in an unhygienic way.[41]
This conviction of Abbé still seems to hold true after millions of
experiments over the whole globe. But the problem of fatigue has
forced itself on the consideration of the men of affairs from still
another side. It has been well known for a long while how intimate the
relations are between fatigue and industrial accidents. The statistics
of the various countries and of the various industries do not
harmonize exactly, but a close connection between the number of
accidents and the hours of the day can be recognized everywhere.
Usually the greatest number of injuries occurs between ten and eleven
o'clock in the forenoon and between three and four o'clock in the
afternoon. The different distribution of the working hours, and of the
pauses for the meals, make the various statistical tables somewhat
incomparable. But it can be traced everywhere that in the first
working hours in which fatigue does not play any considerable rôle,
the number of accidents is small, and that this number sinks again
after the long pauses. It is true that the number also becomes
somewhat smaller at the end of the forenoon and of the afternoon
period, but this seems to have its cause in the fact that with growing
fatigue and with the feeling that the end of the working period is
near, the rhythm of the activity becomes much slower, and with such
slower movements the danger of accidents is greatly reduced. In a
similar way the factories have had to give the fullest attention to
the fatigue problem in its relation to the distribution of pauses, and
above all in its relation to the advisable speed of the machines, the
limits of which are set by the fatigue of the workingmen, and still
more of the working-women.

The legislatures, the labor unions, and the manufacturers have then
had this problem of fatigue constantly before their eyes.[42] On the
other hand, the psychologists and physiologists have continuously
studied the fatigue and restoration of the muscle system and of the
central nervous system, and have analyzed the facts with the subtlest
methods. Yet, in spite of this, it cannot be denied that a real mutual
enrichment has so far hardly been in question. On the contrary, the
whole situation has again demonstrated the old experience. The mere
trying and trying again in practical life can never reach the maximum
effects which may be secured by systematic, scientifically conducted
efforts. On the other side the studies of the theoretical scholars can
never yield the highest values for civilization if the problems which
offer themselves in practical life are ignored. The theorists have to
prepare the ground, and in this preparatory work they must, indeed,
remain utterly regardless of any practical situations. But after that
a second stage must be reached at which on the foundation of this
neutral research special theoretical investigations are undertaken
which originate from practical conditions. As long as industrial
managers have no contact with the experiments of the laboratory and
the experimentalists are shy of any contact with the industrial
reality, humanity will pass through social suffering. The hope of
mankind will be realized by the mutual fertilization of knowing and
doing.

The practical efforts of the factories have, indeed, not yet reached
the point at which the greatest possible achievement which can be
reached without over-fatigue may be secured. We called the
abbreviation of the working day an experimental scheme. The question
of reducing the working hours is so simple that no further special
experiments are needed. But when we come to the questions of the
pauses at work, the speed of work and similar factors related to
fatigue, the situation is by far more complicated, and the often
capricious changes in the plant have very little in common with a
systematic experiment. Some well-known studies of the efficiency
engineers clearly demonstrate the possibility of such systematic
efforts. The best-known case is probably Taylor's study of the
pig-iron handlers of the Bethlehem Steel Company. He found that the
gang of 75 men was loading on the average about 12-1/2 tons per man
per day. When he discussed with various managers the question of what
output would be the possible maximum, they agreed that under premium
work, piecework, or any of the ordinary plans for stimulating the men,
an output of 18 to 25 tons would be the extreme possibility. Then he
proceeded to a systematic study of the fatigue in its relation to the
burden and of the best possible relation between working time and
resting time. His first efforts to find formulas were unsuccessful,
because he calculated only the actual mechanical energy exerted and
found that some men were tired after exerting energy of 1/8 hp., while
others seemed to be able to produce the energy of 1/2 hp. without
greater fatigue. But soon he discovered the mistake in his figures.
He had considered only the actual movements, and had neglected the
period in which the laborer was not moving and was not exerting
energy, but in which a weight was pulling his arms and demanding a
corresponding muscular effort. As soon as this muscular achievement
was taken into account, too, he found that for each particular weight
a definite relation exists between the time that a man is under a
heavy load and the time of rest. For the usual loads of 90 pounds, he
found that a first-class laborer must not work more than 43 per cent
of time working day and must be entirely without load 57 per cent. If
the load becomes lighter, the relation is changed. If the workman is
handling a half pig weighing 46 pounds, he can be under load 58 per
cent of the day and only has to rest during 42 per cent.[43]

As soon as these figures were experimentally secured, Taylor selected
fit men, and did not allow them to lift and to carry the loads as they
pleased, but every movement was exactly prescribed by foremen who
timed exactly the periods of work and rest. If he had simply promised
his men a high premium in case they should carry more than the usual
12 tons a day, they would have burdened themselves as heavily as
possible and would have carried the load as quickly as possible, thus
completely exhausting themselves after three or four hours of labor.
In spite of such senseless exaggeration of effort in the first hours,
the total output for the day would have been relatively small. Now the
foremen determined exactly when every individual should lift and move
the load and when he should sit quietly. The result was that the men,
without greater fatigue, were able to carry 47-1/2 tons a day instead
of the 12-1/2 tons. Their wages were increased 60 per cent. Such a
trivial illustration demonstrates very clearly the extreme difference
between an increase of the economic achievement by scientific,
experimental investigation and a mere enforcing of more work by
artificially whipping-up the mind with promises of extraordinary
wages. Yet even such rules as the scientific management engineers have
formed, may be elaborated to more lasting prescriptions as soon as the
purely psychological factors are brought more into the foreground and
are approached with the careful analysis of the experimental
psychologist.

Such a systematic psychological inquiry is the more important for
questions of fatigue, as we know that the subjective feeling of
displeasure in fatigue is no reliable measure for the objective
fatigue, that is, for the real reduction of the ability for work.
Daily experience teaches us how easily some people overstep the limits
of normal fatigue, and in extreme cases even come to a nervous
breakdown because nature did not protect them by the timely appearance
of strong fatigue feelings. On the other hand, we find many men and
still more women who feel tired even after a small exertion, because
they did not learn early to inhibit the superficial feelings of
fatigue, or because the sensations of fatigue have in fact a certain
abnormal intensity in their case. The question how far the
psychophysical apparatus has really been exhausted by a certain effort
must be answered with the help of objective research and not on the
basis of mere subjective feelings. But such objective measurements
demand systematic experiments in the laboratory.

The experiments which really have been carried on in the laboratory as
yet, as far as they were not merely physiological, have on the whole
been confined to so-called mental labor, and were essentially devoted
to problems of school instruction or medical diagnosis. We have no
doubt excellent experiments which are devoted to the study of the
individual differences of exhaustion, fatigue, exhaustibility, ability
to recover the lost energy, ability to learn from practice, and so on,
but they are still exclusively adjusted to the needs of the
school-teacher and of the nerve specialist and would hardly be
immediately useful to the manager of a factory. We shall need a long
careful series of investigations in order to determine how far those
manifold results from experiments with memory work, thought work,
writing work, and so on can be applied to the work which the
industrial laborer is expected to perform.



XVIII

PHYSICAL AND SOCIAL INFLUENCES ON THE WORKING POWER


The increase and decrease of the ability to do good work depends of
course not only upon the direct fatigue from labor and the pauses for
rest; a large variety of other factors may lead to fluctuations which
are economically important. The various hours of the day, the seasons
of the year, the atmospheric conditions of weather and climate, may
have such influence. Some elements of this interplay have been cleared
up in recent years. Just as the experiments of pedagogical psychology
have determined the exact curve of efficiency during the period of an
hour in school, so other investigations have traced the typical curve
of psychical efficiency throughout the day and the year. Sociological
and criminological statistics concerning the fluctuations in the
behavior of the masses, common-sense experience of practical life, and
finally, economic statistics concerning the quantity and quality of
industrial output in various parts of the day and of the year, have
supplemented one another. The systematic assistance of the
psychological laboratory, however, has been confined to the
educational aspect of the problem. Psychological experiments have
determined how the achievement of the youth in the schoolroom changes
with the months of the year and the hours of the day. It seems as if
it could not be difficult to secure here, too, a connection between
exact experiment and economic work. Much will have to be reduced to
individual variations. The laboratory has already confirmed the
experience of daily life that there are morning workers whose
strongest psychophysical efficiency comes immediately after the
night's rest, while the day's work fatigues them more and more; and
that there are evening workers who in the morning still remain under
the after effects of the night's sleep, and who slowly become fresher
and fresher from the stimuli of the day. It would seem not impossible
to undertake a systematic selection of various individuals under this
point of view, as different industrial tasks demand a different
distribution of efficiency between morning and night.

Such a selection and adjustment may be economically still more
important with reference to the fluctuations during the course of the
year. Economic inquiries, for instance, have suggested that younger
and older workingmen who ordinarily show the same efficiency become
unequal in their ability to do good work in the spring months, and the
economists have connected this inequality with sexual conditions. But
other factors as well, especially the blood circulation of the
organism and the resulting reactions to external temperature,
different gland activities, and so on, cause great personal
differences in efficiency during the various seasons of the year.
Inasmuch as we know many economic occupations in which the chief
demand is made in one or another period of the year, a systematic
study of these individual variations might be of high economic value,
where large numbers are involved, and might contribute much to the
individual comfort of the workers. But a constant relation to day and
year also seems to exist independent of all personal variations. When
the sun stands at its meridian, a minimum of efficiency is to be
expected and a similar minimum is to be found at the height of summer.
Correspondingly we have an increase of the total psychical efficiency
in winter-time. During the spring-time the behavior seems, as far as
the investigations go, to be different in the intellectual and in the
psychomotor activities. It is claimed that the efficiency of the
intellectual functions decreases as the winter recedes, but that the
efficiency of psychomotor impulses increases.[44]

The influences of the daily temperature, of the weather and of the
seasons may be classed among the physical conditions of efficiency. We
may group with them the effects of nourishment, of stimulants, of
sleep, and so on. As far as the relations between these external
factors and purely bodily muscle work are involved, the interests of
the psychologists are not engaged. But it is evident that every one of
these relations also has its psychological aspect, and that a really
scientific psychotechnical treatment of these problems can become
possible only through the agency of psychological experiments. We have
excellent experimental investigations concerning the influence of the
loss of sleep on intellectual labor and on simple psychomotor
activities. But it would be rather arbitrary to deduce from the
results of those researches anything as to the effect of reduction of
sleep on special economic occupations. Yet such knowledge would be of
high importance. We have in the literature concerned with accidents in
transportation numerous popular discussions about the destructive
influence of loss of sleep on the attention of the locomotive engineer
or of the helmsman or of the chauffeur, but an analysis of the
particular psychophysical processes does not as yet exist and can be
expected only from systematic experiments. Nor has the influence of
hunger on psychotechnical activities been studied in a satisfactory
way.

A number of psychological investigations have been devoted to the
study of the influence of alcohol on various psychical functions and
in this field at least the strictly economic problem of industrial
labor has sometimes been touched. We have the much quoted and much
misinterpreted experiments [45] which were carried on in Germany with
typesetters. The workmen received definite quantities of heavy wine at
a particular point in the work and the number of letters which they
were able to set during the following quarter-hours were measured and
compared with their normal achievement in fifteen minutes. The
reduction of efficiency amounted on the average to 15 per cent of the
output. It may be mentioned that the loss referred only to the
quantity of the work and not at all to the quality. The well-known
subjective illusory feeling of the subjects was not lacking; they
themselves believed that the wine had reinforced their working power.
As soon as such experiments are put into the service of economic life,
they will have to be carried on with much more accurate adjustment to
the special conditions, with subtler gradation of the stimuli, and
especially with careful study of individual factors. But at first it
seems more in the interest of the practical task that the extremely
complicated problem of the influence of alcohol be followed up by
purely theoretical research in the laboratory in order that the effect
may be resolved into its various components. We must first find the
exact facts concerning the influence of alcohol on elementary
processes of mental life, such as perception, attention, memory, and
so on, and this will slowly prepare the way for the complete economic
experiment.

At present the greatest significance for the economic field may be
attached to those alcohol experiments which dealt with the
apprehension of the outer world. They proved a reduction in the
ability to grasp the impressions and a narrowing of the span of
consciousness. The indubitable decrease of certain memory powers, of
the acuity in measuring distance, of the time estimation, and similar
psychical disturbances after alcohol, must evidently be of high
importance for industry and transportation, while the well-known
increase of the purely sensory sensibility, especially of the visual
acuity after small closes of alcohol, hardly plays an important rôle
in practical life. The best-known and experimentally most studied
effect of alcohol, the increase of motor excitability, also evidently
has its importance for industrial achievements. It cannot be denied
that this facility of the motor impulses after small doses of alcohol
is not a real gain, which might be utilized economically, but is
ultimately an injury to the apparatus, even if we abstract from the
retardation of the reaction which comes as an after-effect. The
alcoholic facilitation, after all, reduces the certainty and the
perfection of the reaction and creates conditions under which wrong,
and this in economic life means often dangerous, motor responses
arise. The energy of the motor discharge suffers throughout from the
alcohol.

Some experiments which were recently carried on with reference to the
influence of alcohol on the power of will seem to have especial
significance for the field of economic activity. The method applied in
the experiment was the artificial creation of an exactly measurable
resistance to the will-impulse directed toward a purpose. The
experiment had to determine what power of resistance could be overcome
by the will and how far this energy changes under the influence of
alcohol. For this end combinations of meaningless syllables were
learned and repeated until they formed a close connection in memory.
If one syllable was given, the mechanical tendency of the mind was to
reproduce the next syllable in the memorized series. The
will-intention was then directed toward breaking this memory type. For
instance, it was demanded, when a syllable was called, that the
subject should not answer with the next following syllable, but with a
rhyming syllable. This will-impulse easily succeeded when the
syllables to be learned had been repeated only a few times, while
after a very frequent repetition the memory connection offered a
resistance which the simple will-intention could not break. The
syllable which followed in the series rushed to the mind before the
intention to seek a rhyming syllable could be realized. The number of
repetitions thus became a measure for the power of the will. After
carrying out these experiments at first under normal conditions, they
were repeated while the subjects were under the influence of exactly
graded doses of alcohol.[46] From such simple tasks the experiment was
turned to more and more complex ones of similar structure. All
together they showed clearly that the alcohol did not influence the
ability to make the will effective and that the actual decrease of
achievement results from a decrease in the ability to grasp the
material. As long as the alcohol doses are small, this feeling of
decreased ability stirs up a reinforcement in the tension of the
will-impulse. This may go to such an extent that the increased
will-effort not only compensates for the reduced understanding, but
even over-compensates for it, producing an improvement in the mental
work. But as soon as the alcohol doses amount to about 100 cubic
centimeters, the increased tension of the will is no longer sufficient
to balance the paralyzing effect in the understanding. Yet it must not
be overlooked that in all these experiments only isolated will acts
were in question which were separated from one another by pauses of
rest. Evidently, however, the technical laborer is more often in a
situation in which not isolated impulses, but a continuous tension of
the will is demanded. How far such an uninterrupted will-function is
affected by alcohol has not as yet been studied with the exact means
of the experiment.

To be sure an obvious suggestion would be that the whole problem, as
far as economics, and especially industry, are concerned, might be
solved in a simpler way than by the performance of special
psychological experiments, namely, by the complete elimination of
alcohol itself from the life of the wage-earner. The laboratory
experiment which seems to demonstrate a reduction of objective
achievement in the case of every important mental function merely
supplements in exact language the appalling results indicated by
criminal statistics, disease statistics, and inheritance statistics.
It seems as if the time had come when scientists could not with a good
conscience suggest any other remedy than the merciless suppression of
alcohol. Indeed, there can be no doubt that alcohol is one of the
worst enemies of civilized life, and it is therefore almost with
regret that the scientist must acknowledge that all the psychological
investigations, which have so often been misused in the partisan
writings of prohibitionists, are not a sufficient basis to justify the
demand for complete abstinence.

First, newer experiments make it very clear that many of the so-called
effects of alcohol which the experiment has demonstrated are produced
or at least heightened by influences of suggestion. Experiments which
have been carried on in England for the study of that point show
clearly that certain psychical disturbances which seem to result from
small doses of alcohol fail to appear as soon as the subject does not
know that he has taken alcohol. For that purpose it was necessary to
eliminate the odor, and this was accomplished by introducing the
beverages into the organism by a stomach pump. When by this method
sometimes water and sometimes diluted alcohol was given without the
knowledge of the subject, the usual effects of small doses of alcohol
did not arise. But another point is far more important. We may take it
for granted that alcohol reduces the ability for achievement as soon
as such very small doses are exceeded. But from the standpoint of
economic life we have no right to consider a reduction of the
psychical ability to produce work as identical with a decrease in the
economic value of the personality. Such a view would be right if the
influence necessarily set in at the beginning of the working period.
But if, for instance, a moderate quantity of beer is introduced into
the organism after the closing of the working day, it would certainly
produce an artificial reduction of the psychical ability, and yet this
decrease of psychophysical activity might be advantageous to the total
economic achievement of the workingman in the course of the week or
the year. To be sure the glass of beer in the evening paralyzes
certain inhibitory centres of the brain and therefore puts the mind
out of gear, but such a way of expressing it may easily be misleading,
as it suggests too much that a real injury is done. From the point of
view of scientific psychology, we must acknowledge that such a
paralyzing effect in certain parts of the psychophysical system sets
in with every act of attention and reaches its climax in sleep, which
surely does no harm to the mind. It may be thoroughly advantageous for
the total work of the normal, healthy, average workingman if the after
effects of the motor excitement of the day are eliminated by a mild,
short alcoholic poisoning in the evening. It may produce that
narrowing and dulling of consciousness which extinguishes the cares
and sorrows of the day and secures the night's sleep, and through it
increased efficiency the next morning. Systematic experiments with
exact relation to the various technical demands must slowly bring real
insight into this complex situation. The usual hasty generalization
from a few experiments with alcohol for partisan interests is surely
not justified in the present unsatisfactory state of knowledge.[47]

Perhaps we know still less of the influences which coffee, tea,
tobacco, sweets, and so on exert on the life of the industrial worker.
It will be wise to resolve these stimuli in daily use into their
elements and to study the effects of each element in isolated form. To
know, for instance, the effects of caffein on the psychophysical
activities does not mean to know the effects of tea or coffee, which
contain a variety of other substances besides the caffein, substances
which may be supposed to modify the effect of the caffein. Yet the
first step must in this case be the study of the effects of the
isolated caffein, before the total influences of the familiar
beverages can be followed up. An excellent investigation of this
caffein effect on various psychological and psychomotor functions has
recently been completed.[48] When the caffein effect on tapping
movements was studied, it was found that it works as a stimulation,
sometimes preceded by a slight initial retardation. It persists from
one to two hours after doses of from one to three grains and as long
as four hours after doses of six grains. The steadiness test showed a
slight nervousness after several hours after doses of from one to four
grains. After six grains there is pronounced unsteadiness. A complex
test in coördination indicated that the effect of small, amounts of
caffein is a stimulation and that of large amounts a retardation.
Correspondingly the speed of performance in typewriting is heightened
by small doses of caffein and retarded by larger doses. In both cases
the quality of the performance as measured by the number of errors is
superior to the normal result.

The influences of the physiological stimulants have many points of
contact with the effects of social entertainment, the significance of
which for the economic life is still rather unknown in any exact
detail. Many factories in which the labor is noiseless, as in the
making of cigars, have introduced gramophone music or reading aloud,
and it is easy to understand theoretically that a certain animating
effect results, which stimulates the whole psychophysical activity But
only the experiment would be able to decide how this stimulation is
related, for instance, to the distraction of attention, which is
necessarily involved, or how it influences various periods of the work
and various types of work, how far it is true that the musical key
exerts an exciting or relaxing influence, what intensity and what
local position, what rhythm and what duration of such æsthetic
stimuli, would bring the best possible economic results. We all have
read of the favorable effects which were secured in a factory when a
cat was brought into every working-room in which women laborers were
engaged in especially fatiguing work. The cat became a living toy for
the employees, which stimulated their social consciousness. In not a
few plants the reinforced achievement is explained by the social means
of entertainment, which have been introduced under the pressure of
modern philanthropic ideas. The lounging-rooms with the newspapers and
periodicals the clubrooms with libraries, the excursions and dances
and patriotic festivities, fill up the reservoir of psychophysical
energies. As a matter of course all the social movements which enhance
the consciousness of solidarity among the laborers and the feeling of
security as to their future development in their career have a similar
effect of reinforcing the normal psychical achievement.

As the strongest factor, finally, the direct material interest must
be added to these conditions. The literature of political economy is
full of discussions of the effect of increase of wages, of the payment
of bonuses and premiums, of piece-wages, of promised pensions, and, as
far as Europe is concerned, of state insurance. In short, the whole
individual financial situation in its relation to the psychophysical
achievement of the wage-earner is a favorite topic of economic
inquiry. We cannot participate here in these inexhaustible
discussions, because all these questions are to-day still so endlessly
far from the field of psychological experiments. Nevertheless we ought
not to forget the experience through which general experimental
psychology has gone in the last few decades. When the first
experiments were undertaken in order to deal systematically with the
mental life, the friends of this new science and its opponents agreed,
on the whole, in the belief that certainly only the most elementary
phenomena of consciousness, the sensations and the reactions of
impulses, would be accessible to the new method. The opponents
naturally compared this modest field with the great problems of the
mental totality, and therefore ridiculed the new narrow task as
unimportant. The friends, on the other hand, were eager to follow the
fresh path, because they were content to gain real exactitude by the
experiment at least in these simplest questions. Yet as soon as the
new independent workshops were established for the young science, it
was discovered that the method was able to open fields in which no one
had anticipated its usefulness. The experiments turned to the problems
of attention, of memory, of imagination, of feeling, of judgment, of
character, of æsthetic experience and so on. It is not improbable that
the method of the economic psychological experiment may also quickly
lead beyond the more elementary problems, as soon as it is
systematically applied, and then it, too, may conquer regions of
inquiry in which to-day no exact calculation of the psychological
factors seems possible.

If such an advance is to be a steady one, the economic psychologist
will emancipate himself from the chance question of what problems are
at this moment important for commerce and industry and will proceed
systematically step by step from those results which the psychological
laboratory has yielded under the non-economic points of view. Many
previous psychological or psychophysical inquiries almost touch the
problems of industrial achievement. For instance, the experiments on
imitation, which psychophysicists have carried on in purely
theoretical or pedagogical interests, move parallel to industrial
experiences. It is well known that the pacemaker plays his rôle not
only in the field of sport but also in the factory. The rhythm of one
laborer gains controlling importance for the others, who instinctively
imitate him. Some plants even have automatically working machines with
the special intention that the sharp rhythm of these lifeless
forerunners shall produce an involuntary imitation in the
psychophysical system. In a similar way many laboratory investigations
on suggestion and suggestibility point to such economic processes, and
it seems to me that especially the studies on the influence of the
ideas of purpose which are being undertaken nowadays in many
psychological laboratories may easily be connected with the problems
of economic life. We know how the consciousness of the task to be
performed has an organizing influence on the system of those
psychophysical acts which lead to the goal. The experiment has shown
under which conditions this effect can be reinforced and under which
reduced. Pedagogical experiments have also shown exactly what
influence belongs to the consciousness of the approach to the end of
work; the feeling of the nearness of the close heightens the
achievement, even of the fatigued subject. It would not be difficult
to connect psychophysical experiments of this kind with the problems
of the task and bonus system, which is nowadays so much discussed in
industrial life. The practical successes seem to prove that the
individual can do more with equal effort if he does not stand before
an unlimited mass of work of which he has to do as much as possible in
the course of the day, but if he is before a definitely determined,
limited task with the demand that he complete it in an exactly
calculated time. Scientific management has made far-reaching use of
this principle, but whether constant results for the various
industries can be hoped for from such methods must again be
ascertained by the psychological experiment.

These hopes surely will not weaken the interest of the psychologist
for those many psychological methods which lie outside of the
experimental research. A sociologist, who himself had been a laborer
in his earlier life, undertook in Germany last year an inquiry into
the psychological status of the laborers' achievement by the
questionnaire method.[49] He sent to 8000 workingmen in the mining
industries, textile industries, and metal industries, blanks
containing 26 questions, and received more than 5000 replies. The
questions referred to the pleasure and interest in the work, to
preferences, to fatigue, to the thoughts during the work, to the
means of recreation, to the attitude toward the wages, to the
emotional situation, and so on. The 5000 answers allowed manifold
classifications. The various mental types of men could be examined,
the influence of the machine, the attitude toward monotony, the
changes of pleasure and interest in the work with the age of the
laborer, the time at which fatigue becomes noticeable, and so on. Many
psychological elements of industrial life thus come to a sharp focus
and the strong individual differences could not be brought out in a
more characteristic way. Yet, all taken together, even such a careful
investigation on a psychostatistical basis strongly suggests that a
few careful experimental investigations could lead further than such a
heaping-up of material gathered from men who are untrained in
self-observation and in accurate reports, and above all who are
accessible to any kind of suggestion and preconceived idea. The
experimental method is certainly not the only one which can contribute
to reforms in industrial life and the reinforcement of industrial
efficiency, but all signs indicate that the future will find it the
most productive and most reliable.



PART III

THE BEST POSSIBLE EFFECT



XIX

THE SATISFACTION OF ECONOMIC DEMANDS


Every economic function comes in contact with the mental life of man,
first from the fact that the work is produced by the psyche of
personalities. This gave us the material for the first two parts of
our discussion. We asked what mind is best fitted for the particular
kind of work, and how the mind can be led to the best output of work.
But it is evident that the real meaning of the economic process
expresses itself in an entirely different contact between work and
mind. The economic activity is separated from all other processes in
the world, not by the fact that it involves labor and achievement by
personalities, but by the fact that this labor satisfies a certain
group of human desires which we acknowledge as economic. The mere
performance of labor, with all the psychical traits of attention and
fatigue and will-impulses and personal qualities, does not in itself
constitute anything of economic value. For instance, the sportsman
who climbs a glacier also performs such a fatiguing activity which
demands the greatest effort of attention and will; and yet the
psychotechnics of sport do not belong in economic psychology, because
this mountain climbing does not satisfy economic desires. The ultimate
characteristic which designates an activity as economic is accordingly
a certain effect on human souls. The whole whirl of the economic world
is ultimately controlled by the purpose of satisfying certain
psychical desires. Hence this psychical effect is still more
fundamental for the economic process than its psychical origin in the
mental conditions of the worker. The task of psychotechnics is
accordingly to determine by exact psychological experiments how this
mental effect, the satisfaction of economic desires, can be secured in
the quickest, in the easiest, in the safest, in the most enduring, and
in the most satisfactory way.

But we must not deceive ourselves as to the humiliating truth that so
far not the slightest effort has been made toward the answering of
this central scientific question. If the inquiry into the psychical
effects were really to be confined to this problem of the ultimate
satisfaction of economic desires, scientific psychology could not
contribute any results and could not offer anything but hopes and
wishes for the future. At the first glance it might appear as if just
here a large amount of literature exists; moreover, a literature rich
in excellent investigations and ample empirical material. On the one
side the political economists, with their theories of economic value
and their investigations concerning the conditions of prices and the
development of luxury, the calculation of economic values from
pleasure and displeasure and many similar studies, have connected the
economic processes with mental life; on the other side the
philosophers, with their theories of value, have not confined
themselves to the ethical and æsthetic motives, but have gone deeply
into the economic life too. While such studies of the economists and
of the philosophers are chiefly meant to serve theoretical
understanding, it might seem easy to deduce from them technical
practical prescriptions as well. If we know that under particular
conditions certain demands will be satisfied, we draw the conclusion
that we must realize those conditions whenever such demands are to be
satisfied. The theoretical views of the economists and of the
philosophers of value might thus be directly translated into
psychotechnical advice.

As soon as we look deeper into the situation, we must recognize that
this surface impression is entirely misleading. Certainly whenever
the philosophers or political economists discuss the problems of value
and of the satisfaction of human demands, they are using psychological
terms, but the whole meaning which they attach to these terms,
feeling, emotion, will, desire, pleasure, displeasure, joy, and pain,
is essentially different from that which controls the causal
explanations of scientific psychology. We cannot enter into the real
fundamental questions here, which are too often carelessly ignored
even in scientific quarters. Too often psychology is treated, even by
psychologists, as if it covered every possible systematic treatment of
inner experience, and correspondingly outsiders like the economists
fancy that they are on psychological ground and are handling
psychological conceptions as soon as they make any statements
concerning the inner life. But if we examine the real purposes and
presuppositions of the various sciences, we must recognize that the
human experience can be looked on from two entirely different points
of view. Only from one of the two does it present itself as
psychological material and as a fit object for psychological study.
From the other point of view, which is no less valuable and no less
important for the understanding of our inner life, human experience
offers itself as a reality with which psychology as such has nothing
to do, even though it may be difficult to eliminate the usual
psychological words.

The psychologist considers human experience as a series of objects for
consciousness. All the perceptions and memory ideas and imaginative
ideas and feelings and emotions, are taken by him as mental objects of
which consciousness becomes aware, and his task is to describe and to
explain them and to find the laws for their succession. He studies
them as a naturalist studies the chemical elements or the stars. It
makes no difference whether his explanation leads him to connect these
mental contents with brain processes as one theory proposes, or with
subconscious processes as another theory suggests. The entirely
different aspect of inner life is the one which is most natural in our
ordinary intercourse. Whenever we give an account of our inner life or
are interested in the experience of our friends, we do not consider
how their mental experiences as such objective contents of
consciousness are to be described and explained, but we take them as
inner actions and attitudes toward the world, and our aim is not to
describe and to explain them but to interpret and to understand them.
We do not seek their elements but their meaning, we do not seek their
causes and effects but their inner relations and their inner
purposes. In short, we do not take them at all as objects but as
functions of the subject, and our dealing with them has no similarity
to the method of the naturalist.

This method of practical life in which we seek to express and to
understand a meaning, and relate every will-act to its aim, is not
confined to the mere popular aspect; it can lead to very systematic
scholarly treatment. It is exactly the treatment which is fundamental
in the case of all history, for example, or of law, or of logic. That
is, the historian makes us understand the meaning of a personality of
the past and is really interested in past events only as far as human
needs are to be interpreted. It would be pseudo-psychology, if we
called such an account in the truly historical spirit a psychological
description and explanation. The student of law interprets the meaning
of the will of the legislator; he does not deal with the idea of the
law as a psychological content. And the logician has nothing to do
with the idea as a conscious object in the mind; he asks as to the
inner relations of it and as to the conclusions from the premises. In
short, wherever historical interpretations or logical deductions are
needed, we move on in the sphere of human life as it presents itself
from the standpoint of immediate true experience without artificially
moulding it into the conceptions of psychology. On the other hand, as
soon as the psychological method is applied, this immediate life
meaning of human experience is abandoned, and instead of it is gained
the possibility of considering the whole experience as a system of
causes and effects. Mental life is then no longer what it is to us in
our daily intercourse, because it is reconstructed for the purposes of
this special treatment, just as the water which we drink is no longer
our beverage if we consider it under the point of view of chemistry as
a combination of hydrogen and oxygen. Hence we have not two statements
one of which is true and the other ultimately untrue; on the contrary,
both are true. We have a perfect right to give the value of truth to
our experience with water as a refreshing drink, and also to the
formula of the chemist. With a still better right we may claim that
both kinds of mental experience are equally true. Hence not a word of
objection is raised against the discussions of the historians and the
philosophers, if we insist that their so-called psychology stands
outside of the really descriptive and explanatory account of mental
life, and is therefore not psychology in the technical sense of the
word.

It is this historical attitude which controls all the studies of the
political economists. They speak of the will-acts of the individuals
and of their demands and desires and satisfactions, but they do not
describe and explain them; they want to interpret and understand them.
They may analyze the motives of the laborer or of the manufacturer,
but those motives and impulses interest them not as contents of
consciousness, but only as acts which are directed toward a goal. The
aim toward which these point by their meaning, and not the elements
from which they are made up or their causes and effects, is the
substance of such economic studies. For such a subjective account of
the meaning of actions the only problem is, indeed, the correct
understanding and interpretation, and the consistent psychologist who
knows that it is not his task to interpret but to explain has no right
to raise any questions here. It is, therefore, only a confusing
disturbance, if a really psychological, causal explanation is mixed
into the interpretation of such a system of will-acts and purposes. It
is true we find this confusion in many modern works on economics.
Economists know that a scientific explanatory study of the human mind
exists, and they have a vague feeling that they have no right to
ignore this real psychology, instead of recognizing that the
psychology really has nothing to do with their particular problem. The
result is that they constantly try to discuss the impulses and
instincts, the hunger and thirst and sexual desire, and the higher
demands for fighting and playing and acquiring, for seeking power and
social influence, as a psychologist would discuss them, referring them
to biological and physiological conditions and explaining them
causally. Yet as soon as they come to their real problems and enter
into the interpretation and meaning of these economic energies, they
naturally slide back into the historical, economic point of view and
discuss the economic relations of men without any reference to their
psychologizing preambles. The application of the psychological,
scientific method to the true economic experience is therefore not
secured at all in this way. The demands and volitions which they
disentangle are not the ones which the psychophysiologist studies,
because they are left in their immediate form of life reality. They
are accordingly inaccessible to the point of view of experimental
psychology, and nothing can be expected from such interpretative
discussions of the economists for the psychotechnics at which the
psychologist is aiming. Even where the political economists deal with
the problems of value in exact language, nothing is gained for the
kind of insight for which the psychologist hopes, and the
psychologists must therefore go on with their own methods, if they
are ever to reach a causal understanding of the means by which a
satisfaction of the economic demands may be effected.

So far the psychologists have not even started to examine these
economic feelings, demands, and satisfactions with the means of
laboratory psychology. Hence no one can say beforehand how it ought to
be done and how to gain access to the important problems, inasmuch as
the right formulation of the problem and the selection of the right
method would here as everywhere be more than half of the solution. It
must be left to the development of science for the right
starting-point and the right methods to be discovered. Sometimes, to
be sure, the experiment has at least approached this group of economic
questions. For instance, the investigations of the so-called
psychophysical law have often been brought into contact with the
experiences of ownership and acquirement. The law, well known to every
student of psychology, is that the differences of intensity in two
pairs of sensations are felt as equal, when the two pairs of stimuli
are standing in the same relation. The difference between the
intensities of the light sensations from 10 candles and 11 candles is
equal to that from 50 candles and 55 candles, from 100 candles and
110, from 500 candles and 550: that is, the difference of one
additional candle between 10 and 11 appears just as great as the
difference of 50 candles between 500 and 550. The psychologists have
claimed that in a corresponding way the same feeling of difference
arises when the amounts of possessions stand in the same relation.
That is, the man who owns $100 feels the gain or loss of $1 as much as
one who owns $100,000 feels the gain or loss of $1000. Not the
absolute amount of the difference, but the relative value of the
increase or decrease is the decisive influence on the psychological
effect. Some experimental investigations concerning feelings have also
come near to the economic boundaries. The study of the contrast
feelings and of the relativity of feelings, for instance, has points
of contact with the economic problem of how far economic progress,
with its stirring up and satisfying of continually new demands, really
adds to the quantity of human enjoyment. In other words, how far are
those sociologists right who are convinced that by the technical
complexity of modern life, with all its comforts and mechanizations,
the level of individual life is raised, but that the oscillations
about this average level remain the same and produce the same amount
of pleasure and pain? The technical advance would therefore bring no
increase of human pleasure.

We might also put into this class the meagre experimental
investigations concerning the mutual influence of feelings. When
sound, light, and touch impressions, each of which, isolated, produces
a feeling of a certain degree, are combined with one another, the
experiment can show very characteristic changes in the intensity of
pleasure and displeasure. From such routine experiments of the
laboratory it might not be difficult to come to more complex
experiments on the mutual relations of feeling values and especially
of the combinations of pleasure with displeasure. This would lead to
an insight into the processes which are involved in the fixing of
prices, as they are always dependent upon the pleasure in the
acquisition and the displeasure in the outlay. The exact psychology of
the future may thus very well determine the conditions under which the
best effects for the satisfaction of economic demands may be secured,
but our present-day science is still far from such an achievement: and
it seems hardly justifiable to propose methods to-day, as it would be
like drawing a map with detailed paths for a primeval forest which is
still inaccessible.



XX

EXPERIMENTS ON THE EFFECTS OF ADVERTISEMENTS


We have said that the time has not yet come for discussing from the
standpoint of experimental psychology the means to secure the ultimate
effects of economic life, namely, the satisfaction of economic
demands. If this were the only effect which had economic significance,
this whole last part of our little book would have to remain a blank,
as we wanted to deal here with the securing of the best effects after
having studied the securing of the best man and of the best work. Yet
these ultimate ends are certainly not the only mental effects which
become important in the course of economic processes. In order to
reach that final end of the economic movement, often an unlimited
number of part processes distributed over space and time must
coöperate. The satisfaction of our thirst in a tea-room may be a
trivial illustration of such a final effect, but it is clear that in
order to produce this ultimate mental effect of satisfying the thirst,
thousands of economic processes must have preceded. To bring the tea
and the sugar and the lemon to the table, the porcelain cup and the
silver spoon, wage-earners, manufacturers and laborers, exporters,
importers, storekeepers, salesmen, and customers had to coöperate.
Among such part processes which serve the economic achievement are
always many which succeed only if they produce characteristic effects
in human minds. The propaganda which the storekeeper makes, for
instance, his display and his posters, serve the economic interplay by
psychical effects without themselves satisfying any ultimate economic
demand. They must attract the passer-by or impress the reader or
stimulate his impulse to buy, and through all this they reach an end
which is in itself not final, as no human desire to read
advertisements exists. When the salesman influences the customer to
buy something which may later help to satisfy a real economic demand,
the art of his suggestive words secures a mental effect which again is
in itself not ultimate. If the manufacturer influences his employees
to work with more attention or with greater industry, or if the
community stirs up the desire for luxury or the tendency to saving, we
have mental effects which are of economic importance without being
really ultimate economic effects.

As far as these effects are necessary and justified stages leading to
the ultimate satisfaction of economic demands, it certainly is the
duty of applied psychology to bring psychological experience and exact
methods into their service. We emphasize the necessary and justified
character of these steps, as it is evident that psychological methods
may be made use of also by those who aim toward mental effects which
are unjustified and which are not necessary for the real satisfaction
of valuable demands. Psychological laws can also be helpful in
fraudulent undertakings or in advertisements for unfair competition.
The psychotechnical scientist cannot be blamed if the results of his
experiments are misused for immoral purposes, just as the chemist is
not responsible if chemical knowledge is applied to the construction
of anarchistic bombs. But while psychology, as we have emphasized
before, cannot from its own point of view determine the value of the
end, the psychologist as a human being is certainly willing to
coöperate only where the soundness and correctness of the ends are
evident from the point of view of social welfare.

In order to demonstrate the principle of this kind of psychotechnical
help with fuller detail, at least by one illustration, I may discuss
the case of the advertisements, the more as this problem has already
been taken up in a somewhat systematic way by the psychological
laboratories. We have a number of careful experimental investigations
referring to the memory-value, the attention-value, the
suggestion-value, and other mental effects of the printed business
advertisements. Of course this group of experimental investigations at
once suggests an objection which we cannot ignore. A business
advertisement, as it appears in the newspapers, is such an extremely
trivial thing and so completely devoted to the egotistical desire for
profit that it seems undignified for the scientist to spend his time
on such nothings and to shoot sparrows with his laboratory
cannon-balls. But on the one side nothing can be unworthy of thorough
study from a strictly theoretical point of view. The dirtiest chemical
substance may become of greatest importance for chemistry, and the
ugliest insect for zoölogy. On the other side, if the practical point
of view of the applied sciences is taken, the importance of the
inquiry may stand in direct relation to the intensity of the human
demand which is to be satisfied by the new knowledge. Present-day
society is so organized that the economic advertisement surely serves
a need, and its intensity is expressed by the well-known fact that in
every year billions are paid for advertising. Measured by the amount
of expenditure, advertising has become one of the largest and
economically most important human industries. It is, then, not
astonishing that scientists consider it worth while to examine the
exact foundations of this industry, but it is surprising that this
industry could reach such an enormous development without being guided
by the spirit of scientific exactitude which appears a matter of
course in every other large business. As it is a function of science
to study the physics of incandescent lamps or gas motors so as to
bring the economically most satisfactory devices into the service of
the community, it cannot be less important from the standpoint of
national economics to study scientifically the efficiency of the
advertisements in order that the national means may in this industry,
too, secure the greatest possible effects. It is only a secondary
point that experiments of this kind are of high interest to the
theoretical scientist as well. For us the advertisement is simply an
instrument constructed to satisfy certain human demands by its effects
on the mind. It is a question for psychology to determine the
conditions under which this instrument may be best adapted to its
purpose.

The mental effect of a well-adapted advertisement is manifold. It
appeals to the memory. Whatever we read at the street corner, or in
the pages of the newspaper or magazine, is not printed with the idea
that we shall immediately turn to the store, but first of all with
the expectation that we keep the content of the advertisement in our
memory for a later purchase. It will therefore be the more valuable
the more vividly it forces itself on the memory. But if practical
books about the art of advertising usually presuppose that this
influence on the memory will be proportionate to the effect on the
attention, the psychologist cannot fully agree. The advertisement may
attract the attention of the reader strongly and yet by its whole
structure may be unfit to force on the memory its characteristic
content, especially the name of the firm and of the article. The pure
memory-value is especially important, as according to a well-known
psychological law the pleasure in mere recognition readily attaches
itself to the recognized object. The customer who has the choice among
various makes and brands in the store may not have any idea how far
one is superior to another, but the mere fact that one among them
bears a name which has repeatedly approached his consciousness before
through advertisements is sufficient to arouse a certain warm feeling
of acquaintance, and by a transposition of feeling this pleasurable
tone accentuates the attractiveness of that make and leads to its
selection. This indirect help through the memory-value is economically
no less important than the direct service.

In order to produce a strong effect on memory the advertisement must
be easily apprehensible. Psychological laboratory experiments with
exact time-measurement of the grasping of various advertisements of
the same size for the same article, but in different formulations,
demonstrated clearly how much easier or harder the apprehension became
through relatively small changes. No mistake in the construction of
the advertisement causes so much waste as a grouping which makes the
quick apperception difficult. The color, the type, the choice of
words, every element, allows an experimental analysis, especially by
means of time-measurement. If we determine in thousandths of a second
the time needed to recognize the characteristic content of an
advertisement, we may discriminate differences which would escape the
naïve judgment, and yet which in practical life are of considerable
consequence, as the effect of a deficiency is multiplied by the number
of readers.

We must insist on the further demand that the advertisement make a
vivid impression, so that it may influence the memory through its
vividness. Size is naturally the most frequent condition for the
increase of vividness, but only the relative size is decisive. The
experiment shows that the full-page advertisement in a folio magazine
does not influence the memory more than the full page in a quarto
magazine, if the reader is for the time adjusted to the particular
size. No less important than the size is the originality and the
unusual form, the vivid color, the skillful use of empty spaces, the
associative elements, the appeal to humor or to curiosity, to sympathy
or to antipathy. Every emotion can help to impress the content of the
advertisement on the involuntary memory. Unusual announcements
concerning the prices or similar factors move in the same direction.

Together with the question of the apprehension and the vividness of
the impression, we must acknowledge the frequency of repetition as an
equally important factor. We know from daily life how an indifferent
advertisement can force itself on our mind, if it appears daily in the
same place in the newspaper or is visible on every street corner. But
the psychologically decisive factor here is not the fact of the mere
repetition of the impression, but rather the stimulation of the
attention which results from the repetition. If we remained simply
passive and received the impression the second and third and fourth
time with the same indifference with which we noticed it the first
time, the mere summation would not be sufficient for a strong effect.
But the second impression makes the consciousness of recognition,
thus exciting the attention, and through it we now turn actively to
the repeated impression which forces itself on our memory with
increased vividness on account of this active personal reaction.

We may consider how such factors can be tested by the psychotechnical
experiment. Scott, for instance, studied the direct influence of the
relative size of the advertisements.[50] He constructed a book of a
hundred pages from advertisements which had been cut from various
magazines and which referred to many different articles. Fifty persons
who did not know anything about the purpose of the experiment had to
glance over the pages of the book as they would look though the
advertising parts of a monthly. The time which they used for it was
about ten minutes. As soon as they had gone through the hundred pages,
they were asked to write down what they remembered. The result from
this method was that the 50 persons mentioned on an average every
full-page advertisement 6-1/2 times, every half-page less than 3
times, every fourth-page a little more than 1 time, and the still
smaller advertisements only about 1/7 time. This series of experiments
suggested accordingly that the memory value of a fourth-page
advertisement is much smaller than one fourth of the memory-value of
a full-page advertisement, and that of an eighth-page again much
smaller than one half of the psychical value of a fourth-page. The
customer who pays for one eighth of a page receives not the eighth
part, but hardly the twentieth part of the psychical influence which
is produced by a full page.

These experiments, which were carried on in various forms, demanded as
a natural supplement a study of the effects of repetition in relation
to size. This was the object of a series of tests which I carried on
recently in the Harvard laboratory. I constructed the following
material: 60 sheets of Bristol board in folio size were covered with
advertisements which were cut from magazines the size of the "Saturday
Evening Post" and the "Ladies' Home Journal." We used advertisements
ranging from full-page to twelfth-page in size. Every one of the 6
full-page advertisements which we used occurred only once, each of the
12 half-page advertisements was given 2 times, each of the fourth-page
size, 4 times, each of the eighth-page size, 8 times, and each of the
twelfth-page size, 12 times. The repetitions were cut from 12 copies
of the magazine number. The same advertisement never occurred on the
same page; every page, unless it was covered by a full-page
advertisement, offered a combination of various announcements. It is
evident that by this arrangement every single advertisement occupied
the same space, as the 8 times repeated eighth-page advertisement
filled a full page too. Thus no one of the 60 announcements which we
used was spatially favored above another.

Thirty persons took part in the experiment. Each one had to devote
himself to the 60 pages in such a way that every page was looked at
for exactly 20 seconds. Between each two pages was a pause of 3
seconds, sufficient to allow one sheet to be laid aside and the next
to be grasped. In 23 minutes the whole series had been gone through,
and immediately after that every one had to write down what he
remembered, both the names of the firms and the article announced. In
the cases where only the name or only the article was correctly
remembered, the result counted 1/2. We found great individual
differences, probably not only because the memory of the different
persons was different, but also because they varied in the degree of
interest with which they looked at such material. The smallest number
of reproductions was 18, of which 14 were only half remembered, that
is, only the name or only the article, and as we counted these half
reproductions 1/2, the memory-value for this person was counted 11.
The maximum reproduction was 46, of which 6 were half remembered.

If these calculated values are added and the sum divided by the number
of participants, that is, 30, and this finally by the number of the
advertisements shown, that is, 60, we obtain the average memory-value
of a single advertisement. The results showed that this was 0.44. But
our real interest referred to the distribution for the advertisements
of different size. If we make the same calculation, not for the
totality of the advertisements but for those of a particular size, we
find that the memory-value for the full-page advertisement was 0.33,
for the 2 times repeated half-page advertisement, 0.30, for the 4
times repeated fourth-page advertisement, 0.49, for the 8 times
repeated eighth-page advertisement, 0.44, and for the 12 times
repeated twelfth-page advertisement, 0.47. Hence we come to the result
that the 4 times repeated fourth-page advertisement as 1-1/2 times
stronger than one offering of a full-page, or the 2 times repeated
half-page, but that this relation does not grow with a further
reduction of the size. Two thirds of the subjects were men and one
third women. On the whole, the same relation exists for both groups,
but the climax of psychical efficiency was reached in the case of the
men by the 4 times repeated fourth-page, in the case of the women by
the 8 times repeated eighth-page. The 4 times repeated fourth-page in
the case of the women was 0.45, in the case of the men, 0.51, the 8
times repeated eighth-page, women, 0.53, men, 0.37.

I am inclined to believe that the ascent of the curve of the
memory-value from the full-page to the fourth-page or eighth-page
would have been still more continuous, if the whole-page
advertisements had not naturally been such as are best known to the
American reader. The whole-page announcement, therefore, had a certain
natural advantage. But when we come to another calculation, even the
effect of this advantage is lost. We examined the relations for the
first 10 names and articles, which every one of the 30 persons wrote
down. These first 10 were mostly dashed down quickly without special
thought. They also included only a few half reproductions. When we
study these 300 answers which the 30 persons wrote as their first 10
reproductions, and calculate from them the chances which every one of
the 60 advertisements had for being remembered, we obtain the
following values: The probability of being remembered among the first
10 was for the full-page advertisement, 0.5, for the half-page 2 times
repeated, 1.2, for the fourth-page 4 times repeated, 2.9, for the
eighth-page 8 times repeated, 2.3, and for the twelfth-page 12 times
repeated, 2.4. The superiority of repetition over mere size appears
most impressively in this form, but we see again in this series that
the effect decreases even with increased number of repetitions as soon
as the single advertisement sinks below a certain relative size, so
that the 12 times repeated twelfth-page advertisement does not possess
the memory-value of the 4 times repeated fourth-page advertisement. If
Scott's experiments concerning the size and these experiments of mine
concerning the repetition are right, the memory-value of the
advertisements for economic purposes is dependent upon complicated
conditions. A business man who brings out a full-page advertisement
once in a paper which has 100,000 readers would leave the desired
memory-impression on a larger number of individuals than if he were to
print a fourth-page advertisement in four different cities in four
local papers, each of which has 100,000 readers. But if he uses the
same paper in one town, he would produce a much greater effect by
printing a fourth of a page four times than by using a full-page
advertisement once only.

As a matter of course this would hold true only as far as size and
repetition are concerned. Many other factors have to be considered
besides. Some of these could even be studied with our material. We
could study from our results what memory-value is attached to the
various forms of type or suggestive words, what influence to
illustrations, how far they reinforce the impressiveness and how far
they draw away the attention from the name and the object, how these
various factors influence men and women differently, and so on. Other
questions, however, demand entirely different forms of experiment. We
may examine the effects of special contrast phenomena, of unusual
background, of irregular borders and original headings. The particular
position of the advertisement also deserves our psychological
interest. The magazines receive higher prices for the cover pages and
the newspapers for advertisements which are surrounded by reading
matter. In both cases obvious practical motives are decisive. The
cover page comes into the field of vision more frequently. What is
surrounded by reading matter is less easily overlooked.

But the newspaper world hardly realizes how much other variations of
position influence the psychological effect. Starch[51] made
experiments in which he did not use real advertisements, but
meaningless syllables so as to exclude the influence of familiarity
with any announcement. He arranged little booklets, each of 12 pages,
on which a syllable such as _lod_, _zan_, _mep_, _dut_, _yib_, and so
on was printed in the middle of each page. Each of his 50 subjects
glanced over the book and then wrote down what syllables remained in
memory. He found that the syllables which stood on the first and last
page were remembered by 34 persons, those on the second and eleventh
by about 26, and those on the eight other pages by an average of 17
persons. In the next experiment he printed one syllable in the middle
of the upper and one in the middle of the lower half of each page. The
results now showed that of those syllables which were remembered 54
per cent stood on the upper half and 46 per cent on the lower half of
the page. Finally, he divided every page into four parts and printed
one syllable on the middle of each fourth of a page. The results
showed that of the remembered syllables 28 per cent stood on the
left-hand upper fourth, 33 per cent on the right-hand upper fourth, 16
per cent left-hand lower, and 23 per cent right-hand lower. A
fourth-page advertisement which is printed on the outer side of the
upper half of the page thus probably has more than twice the
psychological value of one which is printed on the inner side of the
lower half. The economic world spends millions every year for
advertisements on the upper right-hand side and millions for
advertisements on the lower left-hand side, and is not aware that one
represents twice the value of the other. These little illustrations
of advertisement experiments may suffice to indicate how much
haphazard methods are still prevalent in the whole field of economic
psychotechnics, methods which would not be tolerated in the sphere of
physical and chemical technology.



XXI

THE EFFECT OF DISPLAY


If we turn from the simple newspaper advertisement to the means of
propaganda in general, we at once stand before a question which is
often wrongly answered. The practical handbooks of advertisements and
means of display treat it as a self-evident fact that every
presentation should be as beautiful as possible. In the first place,
we cannot deny that the ugly and even the disgusting possess a strong
power for attracting attention. Yet it is true that by a transposition
of feelings the displeasure in the advertisement may easily become a
displeasure in the advertised object. But, on the other hand, it is
surely a mistake to believe that pure beauty best fulfills the
function of the advertisement. Even the draftsman who draws a poster
ought to give up the ambition to create a perfect picture. It might
have the power to attract attention, but it would hardly serve its
true purpose of fixing the attention on the article which is
advertised by the picture. The very meaning of beauty lies in its
self-completeness. The beautiful picture rests in itself and does not
point beyond itself. A really beautiful landscape painting is an end
in itself, and must not stir up the practical wish to visit the
landscape which has stimulated the eye of the painter. If the display
is to serve economic interests, every line and every curve, every form
and every color, must be subordinated to the task of leading to a
practical resolution, and to an action, and yet this is exactly the
opposite of the meaning of art. Art must inhibit action, if it is
perfect. The artist is not to make us believe that we deal with a real
object which suggests a practical attitude. The æsthetic forms are
adjusted to the main æsthetic aim, the inhibition of practical
desires. The display must be pleasant, tasteful, harmonious, and
suggestive, but should not be beautiful, if it is to fulfill its
purpose in the fullest sense. It loses its economic value, if by its
artistic quality it oversteps the boundaries of that middle region of
arts and crafts. This of course stands in no contradiction to the
requirement that the advertised article should be made to appear as
beautiful as possible. The presentation of something beautiful is not
necessarily a beautiful presentation, just as a perfectly beautiful
picture need not have something beautiful as its content. A perfect
painting may be the picture of a most ugly person.

We have not yet spoken of the suggestive power of the means of
propaganda. Every one knows the influence on taste and smell, on
social vanity, on local pride, on the gambling instinct, on the
instinctive fear of diseases, and above all on the sexual instinct,
can gain suggestive power. Everywhere among the uncritical masses such
appeals reach individuals whose psychophysical attitudes make such
influences vivid and overpowering. Every one knows, too, those often
clever linguistic forms which are to aid the suggestion. They are to
inhibit the opposing impulses. The mere use of the imperative, to be
sure, has gradually become an ineffective, used-up pattern. It is a
question for special economic psychotechnics to investigate how the
suggestive strength of a form can be reinforced or weakened by various
secondary influences. What influence, for example, belongs to the
electric sign advertisements in which the sudden change from light to
darkness produces strong psychophysical effects, and what value
belongs to moving parts in the picture?

The psychologist takes the same interest in the examples of window
displays, sample distributions, and similar vehicles of commerce by
which the offered articles themselves and not their mere picture or
description are to influence the consciousness of the prospective
customer. Here, too, every element may be isolated and may be brought
under psychotechnical rules. The most external question would refer to
the mere quantity of the presented material. The psychologist would
ask how the mere mass of the offering influences the attention, how
far the feeling of pleasure in the fullness, how far the æsthetic
impression of repetition, how far the associative thought of a
manifold selection, how far the mere spatial expansion, affects the
impression. In any case, as soon as it is acknowledged as desirable to
produce with certain objects the impression of the greatest possible
number, the experimental psychologist stands before the concrete
problem of how a manifoldness of things is to be distributed so that
it will not be underestimated, perhaps even overestimated as to
quantity. Again, the laboratory experiment would not proceed with real
window displays or real exhibitions, but would work out the principle
with the simplified experimental means.

An investigation in the Harvard laboratory, for instance, tested the
influence which various factors have upon the estimation of a number
of objects seen.[52] The question was how far the form or the size or
the distribution makes a group of objects appear larger or smaller.
The experiment was started by showing 20 small cards on a black
background in comparison with another group of cards the number of
which varied between 17 and 23. At first the form of these little
cards was changed: triangles, squares, and circles were tried. Or the
color was changed: light and dark, saturated and unsaturated colors
were used. Or the order was varied: sometimes the little cards lay in
regular rows, sometimes in close clusters, sometimes widely
distributed, sometimes in quite irregular fashion. Or the background
was changed, or the surrounding frame, or the time of exposure, and so
on. Each time the subjects had to estimate whether the second group
was the larger or equal or the smaller. These experiments indicated
that such comparative estimation was indeed influenced by every one of
the factors mentioned. If the experiments show that an irregular
distribution makes the number appear larger or a close clustering
reduces the apparent number, and so on, the business man would be
quite able to profit from such knowledge. The jeweler who shows his
rings and watches in his window wishes to produce with his small stock
the impression of an ample supply. He lacks the psychology which might
teach him whether he would act more wisely in having the rings and the
watches separated, or whether he should mix the two, whether he ought
to choose a background which is similar in color or one which
contrasts with the pieces exhibited, whether he ought to present the
single object in a special background as in a case, or to show it
without one. He is not aware that by simple psychological illusions,
it is not difficult to change the apparent size of an isolated object
by special treatment, making his show-piece appear larger by a fitting
background or intentionally making a dainty object appear smaller by
contrasting surroundings. These, to be sure, are very trivial
illustrations, but the same fundamental psychological laws which are
true for the show-window of the next corner store are true for the
world-display of the nation. The point is to present clearly the idea,
which can be most simply expressed in such trivial material. But it
may be added that even in the case of the most indifferent example a
few hasty experiments with one or two subjects cannot yield any
results of value.

All parts of physiological psychological optics can contribute similar
material. The questions of color harmony and color contrast, light
intensity and mutual support of uniformly colored objects, of
irradiation, depth and perspective, are significant for an effective
display in the show-window, and the laboratory results can easily be
translated into psychotechnical prescriptions. But here it is still
more necessary to separate carefully the merely optical impression
from its æsthetic side. All that we claimed as to the poster is still
more justified for the presentation of the saleable objects
themselves. As soon as the display of the articles forms a real work
of art, it must produce inhibitions in the soul of the spectator by
which the practical economic desire is turned aside. Beauty here too
has strong power of attraction, and moreover the suggestive power, by
which it withdraws our senses from the chance surroundings, forces us
to lose ourselves in the offered presentation. But just through this
process the content of the display becomes isolated and separated from
the world of our practical interests. Our desires are brought to
silence, we do not seek a personal relation to the things which we
face as admiring spectators, and the intended economic effect is
therefore eliminated. Whoever is to examine the psychotechnics of
displays and exhibitions must therefore study the psychology of
æsthetic stimulation, of suggestion, of the effects of light, color,
form and movement, of apperception and attention, and ought not to
forget the psychology of humor and curiosity, of instincts and
emotions. For us the essential point is that here too the experimental
psychological method alone is able to lead from mere chance
arrangements founded on personal taste to the systematic construction
which secures with the greatest possible certainty the greatest
possible mental effect in the service of the economic purpose.

The problems of the storekeeper who arranges his windows, however,
overlap the problems of the manufacturer who prepares his goods for
the world-market, and who must from the start take care that the outer
appearance of his goods stimulate the readiness to buy. In factories
in which these questions have been carefully considered, the
psychological elements have always been found to be the most
influential, but often the most puzzling. I received material from a
number of industrial plants which sold the same article in a variety
of packings. The material which was sent to me included all kinds of
soaps and candies, writing-papers and breakfast foods, and other
articles which are handled by the retailer, the sale of which depends
upon the inclination and caprice of the customer in the store. For
every one of these objects a number of external covers and labels were
sent and with them a confidential report with details about their
relative success. For instance, a certain kind of chocolate was sold
under 12 different labels. One of them was highly successful in the
whole country, and one other had made the same article entirely
unsaleable. The other 10 could be graded between these extremes. In
all 12 cases the covers were decorated with pictures of women with a
scenic background. As long as only æsthetic values were considered,
all were on nearly the same level, and æsthetically skilled observers
repeatedly expressed their preference for some of the unsuccessful
pictures over some of the successful ones. But as soon as an internal
relation was formed between the pictures and the chocolate, in the one
case a mental harmony resulted which had strong suggestive power, in
the other case a certain unrest and inner disturbance which
necessarily had an inhibiting influence. The picture which was
unsuccessful with the sweets would perhaps have been eminently
successful for tobacco. From such elementary starting-points, the
laboratory experiment might proceed systematically into spheres of
economic life hitherto untouched by scientific methods. The psychology
of the influence of external forms on the conscious reactions of the
masses is so far usually considered only when, as often happens, the
most fundamental demands are violated; for instance, when objects
which are to give the impression of ease are painted in colors which
give a heavy, clumsy appearance, or _vice versa_, when book-bindings
are lettered in archaic type which makes the reading of the title
impossible for a passer-by, and in many similar antipsychological
absurdities which any stroll through the streets of a modern city
forces on us.



XXII

EXPERIMENTS WITH REFERENCE TO ILLEGAL IMITATION


It is perhaps not without interest to turn into a by-path at this
point of our road. All the illustrations which we have picked out so
far have referred to strictly economic conditions. But we ought not to
forget that these economic problems of commerce and industry are
everywhere in contact with legal interests as well. In order to
indicate the manifoldness of problems accessible to the experimental
method, we may discuss our last question, the question of packing and
of labels, in this legal relation too. All the packings, covers,
labels, trademarks, and names by which the manufacturer tries to
stimulate the attention, the imagination, and the suggestibility of
the customer may easily draw a large part of their psychological
effectiveness from without, as soon as they imitate the appearance of
articles which are well introduced and favored in the market. If the
public is familiar with and favorably inclined toward an article on
account of its inner values or on account of its being much
advertised, a similar name or a similar packing may offer efficient
help to a rival article. The law of course protects the label and the
deceiving imitation can be prosecuted. But no law can determine by
general conceptions the exact point at which the similarity becomes
legally unallowable. This creates a situation which has given rise to
endless difficulties in practical life.

If everything were forbidden which by its similarity to an accredited
article might lead to a possible confusion in the mind of the quite
careless and inattentive customer, any article once in the market
would have a monopoly in its line. As soon as a typewriter or an
automobile or a pencil or a mineral water existed, no second kind
could have access to the market, as with a high degree of carelessness
one economic rival may be taken for another, even if the new
typewriter or the new pencil has a new form and color and name. On the
other side, the purchaser could never have a feeling of security if
imitations were considered as still legally justifiable when the
difference is so small that it needs an intense mental effort and
careful examination of details to notice it.

The result is that the jurisdiction fluctuates between these two
extremes in a most alarming way, and this seems to hold true in all
countries. In theory: "There is substantial agreement that
infringement occurs when the marks, names, labels, or packings of one
trader resemble those of another sufficiently to make it probable that
ordinary purchasers, exercising no more care than such persons usually
do in purchasing the article in question, will be deceived." But it
depends upon the trade experts and the judges to give meaning to such
a statement in the particular case, as the amount of care which
purchasers usually exercise can be understood very differently.
Sometimes the customer is expected to proceed with an attention which
is most subtly adjusted to the finest differences, and sometimes it is
taken for granted that he is unable to notice even strong variations.
It is clear that this uncertainty which disturbs the whole trade
cannot be eliminated as long as the psychological background has not
been systematically studied. Mere talking about the attention of the
customer, and his ability to decide and select, and of his
observations and his habits in the spirit of popular common-sense
psychology, can never secure exact standards and definite demarcation
lines. The question is important not only where imitations of morally
doubtful character are in the market. Even the most honest
manufacturer is in a certain sense obliged to imitate his
predecessors, as they have directed the taste and habits of the
public in particular directions, and as the product of his company
would suffer unnecessarily if he were to disregard this psychical
attitude of the prospective customers. The economic legal situation
accordingly suggests the question whether it would not be possible to
devise methods for an exact measurement of the permissible similarity,
and this demand for exactitude naturally points to the methods of the
psychological experiment. E.S. Rogers, Esq., of Chicago, who has
thoroughly discussed the legal aspect of the problem,[53] first turned
my attention to the psychological difficulty involved.

When I approached the question in the Harvard psychological
laboratory, it was clear to me that the degree of attention and
carefulness which the court may presuppose on the part of the customer
can never be determined by the psychologist and his experimental
methods. It would be meaningless, if we tried to discover by
experiments a particular degree of similarity which every one ought to
recognize or a particular degree of attention which would be
sufficient for protection against fraud. Such degrees must always
remain dependent upon arbitrary decision. They are not settled by
natural conditions, but are entirely dependent upon social agreement.
A decision outside of the realm of psychology must fix upon a
particular degree in the scale of various similarity values as the
limit which is not to be passed. The aim of the psychologist can be
only to construct such a scale by which decisions may be made
comparable and by which standards may become possible. The experiment
cannot deduce from the study of mental phenomena what degrees of
similarity ought to be still admissible, but it may be able to develop
methods by which different degrees of similarity can be discriminated
and by which a certain similarity value once selected can always be
found again with objective certainty. After many fruitless efforts I
settled on the following form of experiments, which I hope may bring
us nearer to the attainment of the purpose.

A group of objects is observed for a definite time and after a
definite interval another group of objects is offered for comparison.
This second group is identical with the first in all but one of the
objects, and this is replaced by a similar one. The question is how
often this substitution will be noticed by the observers. I may give
in detail a characterization of the set of experiments in which we are
at present engaged. We are working with picture postal cards, using
many hundred cards of different kinds, but for each one we have one
or several similar cards. As postal cards are generally manufactured
in sets, it is not difficult to purchase pairs of pictures with any
degree of similarity. Two cards with Christmas trees, or two with
Easter eggs, or two with football players, or two with forest
landscapes, and so on, may differ all the way from a slight variation
of color or a hardly noticeable change in the position of details to
variations which keep the same motive or the same general arrangement,
but after all make the card strikingly different. The first step is to
determine for each pair the degree of similarity, on a percentage
basis. To overcome mere arbitrariness, we ask thirty to forty educated
persons to express the similarity value, calling identical postal
cards 100 per cent and two postal cards as different as a colored
flower piece and a black picture of a street scene O. The average
value of these judgments is then considered as expressing the
objective degree of similarity between the two pictures of a pair.
After securing such standard values, we carry on the experiments in
the following form. Six different postal cards, for instance, are seen
on a black background through the opening of a shutter which is closed
after 5 seconds. The six may be made up of a landscape, a building, a
head, a genre scene, and so forth. After 20 seconds the same group of
postal cards is shown once more, except that one is replaced by a
similar one, instead of one church another church building, or instead
of a vase with roses a vase with pinks. If the substituted picture has
the average similarity value of 80 per cent and we make the experiment
with 10 persons, the substitution may be discovered by 7 persons and
remain unnoticed by 3. We can now easily vary every one of the factors
involved. If instead of 6 cards, we take 10, it may be that only 4 out
of 10 persons, instead of 7, will discover the substitution, while if
we take 4 cards instead of 6, perhaps 9 persons out of 10 will
recognize the difference under these otherwise equal conditions. Only
an especially careless observer will overlook it. But instead of
changing the number of objects, we may change the periods of exposure.
If we show the 6 cards only for 2 seconds instead of 5 seconds, the
number of those who recognize the difference may sink from 7 to 5 or
4, and if we make the time considerably longer, we shall of course
reach a point where all 10 will recognize the substitution. The same
holds true of the shortening or lengthening of the time-interval
between the two presentations. The third variable factor is the
similarity itself. If instead of one church, not another church, but a
theatre or a skyscraper is shown, that is, if the similarity value of
80 per cent sinks down to a similarity of 60 per cent or 50 per cent,
the number of those who recognize the substitution will again become
larger; if, on the other hand, the substituted card shows the same
church, only from a slightly different angle, bringing the similarity
value up to 90 per cent or 95 per cent, the number of observers who
recognize the substitution may sink to 2 or 3. To make the experiments
reliable, it is also necessary frequently to mix in cases in which no
substitution at all is introduced.

If these experiments are varied sufficiently and a large mass of
material brought together, we must be able to secure definite formulæ.
We may find that if the critical card appears among 6 cards, is shown
for 5 seconds, and the group is again exposed after 20 seconds, 80 per
cent of the subjects will recognize the substitution of a similar
card, if the degree of similarity is 30 per cent, but only 60 per cent
will recognize it if the degree of similarity is 70 per cent, and only
30 per cent will recognize it if the degree of similarity is 90 per
cent. These are entirely fictitious figures and are only to indicate
the principle. If such an exact formula were definitely discovered, we
should still be unable to say from mere psychological reasoning what
similarity value is legally permissible. If the rules against
infringement are interpreted in a very rigorous spirit, it may seem
desirable to prohibit imitations which are as little similar as those
postal cards which were graded as 40 per cent in our similarity scale,
and if the interpretation is a loose one, it may appear permissible to
have imitations on the market which are as strongly similar as our
postal cards graded at 80 per cent in our similarity scale. All this
would have to be left to the lawmakers and to the judges. But what we
would have gained is this. We could say: if our object exposed for 5
seconds in a group of 6 other objects is replaced after an interval of
20 seconds by an imitation and this change is recognized by 8 persons
among 10, the degree of similarity is 30 per cent and if it is
recognized by 3 out of 10 subjects, the degree of similarity is 90 per
cent. In short, from any percentage of subjects who under these
conditions discovered the substitution, we could determine the degree
of similarity, independent of any individual arbitrariness. If such
methods were accepted by the trade and the courts, it would only be
necessary, to agree on the percentage of similarity which ought to be
permitted, and all uncertainty would disappear. There would be no
wrangling of opposing interests; it would be possible to find out
whether the permitted limit were overstepped or not with an
exactitude similar to that with which the weight or the chemical
constitution of a trade commodity is examined. Certainly the
experiment establishes here conditions which are very different from
those of practical life. The customer who wants to buy a particular
picture postal card which he saw once before and to whom the salesman
offers a similar one, suggesting that it is the same, is facing only
one card and not a group of six. But in practical life the card which
be has seen was not observed with the definite intention of keeping
the memory picture in mind, and months may have passed since it was
seen. The memory picture which the customer has in his consciousness
when he seeks the particular card is much weakened by this
circumstance too. We secure this weakening artificially by the
arrangement of the experiment in placing the card in a group of six or
ten and exposing them for a few seconds only. The force of attention
and the corresponding memory-value are by this distribution diminished
in a definite degree in the case of every single card.

The investigation must include a careful study of the size of the
groups, of the time-relations, of the percentage of correct answers,
all under the point of view of greatest fitness for practical
application. In the Harvard laboratory the research has been carried
on partly with such picture material, partly with word material, and
partly with concrete objects.[54] Whatever the details of the outcome
may be, we hope that the work will lead to results which may, indeed,
make such a psychotechnical use possible. Its principles and formulæ
might easily be adjusted to any marketable material. As a matter of
course, if in future the courts were ever to accept such
psychological, experimental methods, it would be intolerable
dilettantism if such experiments were carried on by lawyers and
district attorneys. It is as true of this economic legal question as
of many other legal psychological problems that its introduction into
the courtroom can become desirable only when psychological experts are
engaged and called in the same way as chemical or medical experts are
invited to the court. On the other hand, there is surely not the
slightest desire on the part of psychologists to be dragged into
humiliating performances like those which not only handwriting
experts, but even psychiatric specialists have had to undergo
repeatedly in sensational court trials. The day for the expert
activity in the courtroom will came for the psychologist only when the
country has attached the expert to the court and has eliminated the
expert retained by the plaintiff or the defendant. But this general
practical question as to the position of the psychologist in the
courtroom and as to the need of a psychological laboratory in
connection with the courts would lead us too far aside.



XXIII

BUYING AND SELLING


The effects which we have studied so far were produced by inanimate
objects, posters or displays, advertisements or labels and packings.
The economic psychotechnics of the future will surely study with
similar methods the effects of the living commercial agencies.
Experiments will trace the exact effects which the salesman or
customer may produce. But here not even a modest beginning can be
discovered, and it would be difficult to mention a single example of
experimental research. The desired psychological influences of the
salesman are not quite dissimilar to those of the printed means of
propaganda. Here, too, it is essential to turn the attention of the
customer to different points, to awaken a vivid favorable impression,
to emphasize the advantages of the goods, to throw full light on them,
and finally to influence the will-decision either by convincing
arguments or by persuasion and suggestion. In either case the point is
to enhance the impulse to buy and to suppress the opposing ideas. Yet
every one of these factors, when it starts from a man and not from a
thing or paper, changes its form. The influence becomes narrower, it
is directed toward a smaller number of persons; but, on the other
hand, it gains just by the new possibility of individualization. The
salesman in the store or the commercial traveler adjusts himself to
the wishes, reactions, and replies of the buyer. Above all, when it
becomes necessary to direct the attention to the decisive points, the
personal agent has the possibility of developing the whole process
through a series of stages so that the attention slowly becomes
focused on one definite point. The salesman observes at first only the
general limits of the interest of the customer as far as it is
indicated by his reactions, but slowly he can find out in this whole
field the region of strongest desires. As soon as he has discovered
this narrower region in which the prospects of success seem to be
greatest, he can systematically eliminate everything which distracts
and scatters the attention. He can discover whether the psyche of the
individual with whom he is dealing can be influenced more strongly by
logical arguments or by suggestion, and how far he may calculate on
the pleasure instincts, on the excitement of emotions, on the impulse
to imitate, on the natural vanity, on the desire for saving, and on
the longing for luxury. In every one of these directions the whole
play of human suggestion may be helpful. The voice may win or destroy
confidence, the statement may by its firmness overcome counter-motives
or by its uncertainty reinforce them. Even hand or arm movements by
their motor suggestion may focus the desires of the customers, while
unskillful, erratic movements may scatter the attention and lead to an
inner oscillation of the will to buy.

At every one of these points the psychological experiment may find a
foothold, and only through such methodological study can the haphazard
proceedings of the commercial world be transformed into really
economic schemes. Indeed, it seems nothing but chance that just this
field is controlled by chance alone. The enormous social interplay of
energies which are discharged in the selling and buying of the
millions becomes utterly planless as soon as salesman and customer
come into contact, and this tremendous waste of energy cannot appear
desirable for any possible interest of civilization. The time alone
which is wasted by useless psychophysical operations in front of and
behind the counter represents a gigantic part of the national budget.
Even the complaints about the long working day of the salesgirls might
be eliminated from the debit account of the national ledger, if the
commercial companies could study the psychical processes in selling
and buying with the same carefulness with which they analyze all
details in preparing the stock and fixing the prices. In the army or
in the fire department, in the railroad service, and even in the
factory, all necessary activities are so arranged that as far as
possible the greatest achievement is secured by the smallest amount of
energy. But when the hundreds of millions of customers in the
civilized world want to satisfy their economic demands in the stores,
the whole dissolves into a flood of talk, because no one has taken the
trouble to examine scientifically the psychotechnics of selling and to
put it on a firm psychological foundation.

The idea of scientific management must be extended from the industrial
concerns to the commercial establishments. The questioning and
answering, the showing and replacing of the goods, the demonstrating
and suggesting by the salesmen, must be brought into an economic
system which saves time and energy, as has been tried with the laborer
in the factory. Wherever economic processes are carried out with
superfluous, haphazard movements, the national resources have to
suffer a loss. The single individual can never find the ideal form of
motion and the ideal process by mere instinct. A systematic
investigation is needed to determine the way to the greatest saving
of energy, and the result ought to be made a binding rule for every
apprentice. How the smallest influences grow by summation may be
illustrated by the experience of a large department store, in which
the expense for delivery of the articles sold was felt as too large an
item in the budget. The hundreds of saleswomen therefore received the
order after every sale of moderate-sized articles not to ask, as
before, "May we send it to you?" but instead, "Will you take it with
you?" Probably none of the many thousand daily customers observed the
difference, the more as it was indifferent to most of them whether
they took the little package home themselves or not. In cases in which
it was inconvenient, they would anyhow oppose the suggestion and
insist that the purchase be sent to them. Yet it is claimed that this
hardly noticeable suggestion led to a considerable saving in the
following year, distinctly felt in the budget of the whole
establishment.

We must not forget, however, that the process of buying deserves the
same psychological interest as that of selling. If psychotechnics is
to be put into the service of a valuable economic task, the goal
cannot possibly be to devise schemes by which the customer may easily
be trapped. The purpose of science cannot be to help any one to sell
articles to a man who does not need them and who would regret the
purchase after quiet thought. The applied psychologist should help the
prospective buyer no less, and must protect him so that his true
intention may become realized in the economic process. Otherwise
through his suggestibility, the determining idea of his goal might
fade in his consciousness and the appeal to his vanity or to his
instincts might awaken an anti-economic desire which he would be too
weak to inhibit. The salesman must know how to use arguments and
suggestions and how to make them effective,[55] but the customer too
must know how to see through a misleading argument and how to resist
mere suggestion.

The postulate that the psychical factors in commercial life are to be
carefully regarded is repeated in more complex form in the wholesale
business and in the stock exchange. It is a perfectly justified and
consistent thought which recently led a large credit bureau to an
effort to base its information on psychological analysis. It is well
known that there are bureaus in which the ledger experiences of a
large circle of companies in the same commercial line are collected,
tabulated, and recorded, thus affording an automatic review of the
occurrences, focusing early attention on doubtful accounts and
pointing out weaknesses in the customers' conditions, as they
develop, as well as evidences of prosperity. The ledger experience
which a single company has with all its customers is tabulated without
revealing its identity to the associates, who get reports containing
it, and the many combined ledgers become a valuable guide. Yet all
such methods can show only actual movements in the market, and cannot
allow the prospects of future development to be determined, simply
because they cannot take into account the personal equations. Only an
acquaintance with the character and the temperament, the intelligence
and the habits, the energy and the weakness, of the head of a firm can
tell us whether the company, even with satisfactory resources, may go
down, or whether, even though embarrassed, it may hold out. The
psychological pioneer, therefore, aims not only toward an exchange of
ledger accounts, but toward a real psychological diagnosis and
prognosis. If a member of a firm is personally known to some scores of
business men who have had commercial dealings with him, and each one
of them, without disclosing his identity to any one but the central
bureau, sends to it a statement of personal impressions, a composite
picture of the mental physiognomy can be worked out. Of course all
this has been often done in the terms of popular psychology and in a
haphazard, amateurish way. The new plan is to arrange the questions
systematically under the point of view of scientific descriptive
psychology. Regular psychograms, in which the probability of a
particular kind of behavior is to be determined in an exact percentage
calculation, are to replace the traditional vagueness, as soon as a
sufficient number of reliable answers have been tabulated.

Commercial life as a whole finds its contact with psychology, of
course, not only in the problem of how to secure the best mental
effect. Those other questions which we have discussed essentially with
reference to factory life and industrial concerns, namely, how the
best man and the best work are to be secured, recur in the circle of
commercial endeavors. It seems, indeed, most desirable to devise
psychological tests by which the ability to be a successful salesman
or saleswoman may be determined at an early stage. The lamentable
shifting of the employees in all commercial spheres, with its
injurious social consequences, would then be unnecessary, and both
employers and employees would profit. Moreover, like the selection of
the men, the means of securing the most satisfactory work from them,
has also so far been left entirely to common sense. Commercial work
stands under an abundance of varying conditions, and each may have
influences the isolated effects of which are not known, because they
have not been studied in that systematic form which only the
experiment can establish. The popular literature on this whole group
of subjects is extensive, and in its expansion corresponds to the
widespread demand for real information and advice to the salesman. But
hardly any part of the literature in the borderland regions of
economics is so disappointing in its vagueness, emptiness, and
helplessness. Experimental psychology has nothing with which to
replace it to-day, but it can at least show the direction from which
decisive help may be expected in future.



XXIV

THE FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF ECONOMIC PSYCHOLOGY


Here we may stop. From those elementary questions concerning the
mental effects, the path would quickly lead to questions of gravest
importance. What is the mental effect which the economic labor
produces in the laborer himself? How do economic movements influence
the mind of the community? How far do non-economic factors produce
effects on the psychical mechanism of the economic agents? But it
would be idle to claim to-day for exact psychology, with its methods
of causal thought, regions in which so far popular psychology, with
its methods of purposive thought, is still sovereign. Our aim
certainly was not to review the totality of possible problems related
to economic efficiency, but merely to demonstrate the principles and
the methods of experimental economic psychology by a few
characteristic illustrations. As all the examples which we selected
were chosen only in order to make clear the characteristic point of
view of psychotechnics, it is unimportant whether the particular
results will stand the test of further experimental investigations,
or will have to be modified by new researches. What is needed to-day
is not to distribute the results so far reached as if they were parts
of a definite knowledge, but only to emphasize that the little which
has been accomplished should encourage continuous effort. To stimulate
such further work is the only purpose of this sketch.

This further work will have to be a work of coöperation. The nature of
this problem demands a relatively large number of persons for the
experimental treatment. With most experimental researches in our
psychological laboratories, the number of the subjects experimented on
is not so important as the number of experiments made with a few
well-trained participants. But with the questions of applied
psychology the number of persons plays a much more significant rôle,
as the individual differences become of greatest importance. The same
problems ought therefore to be studied in various places, so that the
results may be exchanged and compared. Moreover, these psychological
economic investigations naturally lead beyond the possibilities of the
university laboratories. To a certain degree this was true of other
parts of applied psychology as well. Educational and medical
experimental psychology could not reach their fullest productivity
until the experiment was systematically carried into the schoolroom
and the psychiatric clinic. But the classroom and the hospital are
relatively accessible places for the scientific worker, as both are
anyhow conducted under a scientific point of view. The teacher and the
physician can easily learn to perform valuable experiments with school
children or with patients. This favorable condition is lacking in the
workshop and the factory, in the banks and the markets. The academic
psychologist will be able to undertake work there only with a very
disturbing expenditure of time and only under exceptional conditions.
If such experiments, for instance, with laborers in a factory or
employees of a railway are to advance beyond the faint first efforts
of to-day and are really to become serviceable to the cultural
progress of our time with effective completeness, they ought not to
remain an accidental appendix to the theoretical laboratories. Either
the universities must create special laboratories for applied
psychology or independent research institutes must be founded which
attack the new concrete problems under the point of view of national
political economy. Experimental workshops could be created which are
really adjusted to the special practical needs and to which a
sufficiently large number of persons could be drawn for the
systematic researches. The ideal solution for the United States would
be a governmental bureau for applied psychology, with special
reference to the psychology of commerce and industry, similar to the
model agricultural stations all over the land under the Department of
Agriculture.

Only when such a broad foundation has been secured will the time be
ripe to carry the method systematically into the daily work. The aim
will never be for real experimental researches to be performed by the
foreman in the workshop or by the superintendent in the factory. But
slowly a certain acknowledged system of rules and prescriptions may be
worked out which may be used as patterns, and which will not
presuppose any scientific knowledge, any more than an understanding of
the principles of electricity is necessary for one who uses the
telephone. But besides the rigid rules which any one may apply,
particular prescriptions will be needed fitting the special situation.
This leads to the demand for the large establishments to appoint
professionally trained psychologists who will devote their services to
the psychological problems of the special industrial plant. There are
many factories that have scores of scientifically trained chemists or
physicists at work, but who would consider it an unproductive luxury
to appoint a scientifically schooled experimental psychologist to
their staff. And yet his observations and researches might become
economically the most important factor. Similar expectations might be
justified for the large department stores and especially for the big
transportation companies. In smaller dimensions the same real needs
exist in the ordinary workshop and store. It is obvious that the
professional consulting psychologist would satisfy these needs most
directly, and if such a new group of engineers were to enter into
industrial life, very soon a further specialization might be expected.
Some of these psychological engineers would devote themselves to the
problems of vocational selection and appointment; others would
specialize on questions of advertisement and display and propaganda; a
third group on problems of fatigue, efficiency, and recreation; a
fourth on the psychological demands for the arrangement of the
machines; and every day would give rise to new divisions. Such a
well-schooled specialist, if he spent a few hours in a workshop or a
few days in a factory, could submit propositions which might refer
exclusively to the psychological factors and yet which might be more
important for the earning and the profit of the establishment than the
mere buying of new machines or the mere increase in the number of
laborers.

No one can deny that such a transition must be burdened with difficult
complications and even with dangers; and still less will any one doubt
that it may be caricatured. One who demands that a chauffeur or a
motorman of an electric railway be examined as to his psychical
abilities by systematic psychological methods, so that accidents may
be avoided, does not necessarily demand that a congressman or a
cabinet minister or a candidate for marriage be tested too by
psychological laboratory experiments, as the witty ones have proposed.
And one who believes that the work in the factory ought to be studied
with reference to the smallest possible expenditure of psychical
impulses is not convinced that the same experimental methods will be
necessary for the functions of eating and drinking and love-making, as
has been suggested.

And if it is true that difficulties and discomforts are to be feared
during the transition period, they should be more than outweighed by
the splendid betterments to be hoped for. We must not forget that the
increase of industrial efficiency by future psychological adaptation
and by improvement of the psychophysical conditions is not only in the
interest of the employers, but still more of the employees; their
working time can be reduced, their wages increased, their level of
life raised. And above all, still more important than the naked
commercial profit on both sides, is the cultural gain which will come
to the total economic life of the nation, as soon as every one can be
brought to the place where his best energies may be unfolded and his
greatest personal satisfaction secured. The economic experimental
psychology offers no more inspiring idea than this adjustment of work
and psyche by which mental dissatisfaction in the work, mental
depression and discouragement, may be replaced in our social community
by overflowing joy and perfect inner harmony.


THE END



NOTES


[1] The fullest account of the modern studies on individual
differences is to be found in: William Stern: Die differentielle
Psychologie in ihren methodischen Grundlagen. (Leipzig, 1911.)

[2] The practical applications of psychology in education, law, and
medicine, I have discussed in detail in the books: Münsterberg:
Psychology and the Teacher. (New York, 1910.) Münsterberg: On the
Witness Stand. (New York, 1908.) (English edition under the title:
Psychology and Crime.) Münsterberg: Psychotherapy (New York, 1909.)

[3] Frank Parsons: Choosing a Vocation. (Boston, 1909.)

[4] M. Bloomfield: The Vocational Guidance of Youth. (Boston, 1911.)

[5] Vocations for Boys. (Issued by the Vocation Bureau of Boston.
1912.) Vocations for Boston Girls. (Issued by the Girls' Trade
Education League. 1911.) Bulletins of Vocation Series. (Issued by the
Women's Educational and Industrial Union. 1911.)

[6] F.W. Taylor: The Principles of Scientific Management. (New York,
1911.) H.L. Gantt: Work, Wages, and Profits. (New York, 1912.) And the
books of Emerson, Gilbreth, Goldmark, etc., to be mentioned later.

[7] H. Emerson: Efficiency as a Basis for Operation and Wages. (New
York, 1912, p. 107.)

[8] H. Emerson: The Twelve Principles of Efficiency. (New York, 1912,
p. 176.)

[9] H Emerson: The Twelve Principles, p. 156.

[10] H. Emerson: The Twelve Principles, p. 177.

[11] F.W. Taylor: The Principles of Scientific Management, pp. 86-97.

[12] The experiments are being conducted and will be published by Mr.
J.W. Bridges.

[13] Investigation of Telephone Companies: Bureau of Labor.
(Washington, Government Printing Office, 1910.)

[14] Ries: Beiträge zur Methodik der Intelligenzprüfung. (Zeitschrift
für Psychologie, 1910, vol. 56.)

[15] For a survey of a large number of such tests and bibliography,
compare: G.M. Whipple: Manual of Mental and Physical Tests.
(Baltimore, 1911.)

[16] F.L. Wells: The Relation of Practice to Individual Differences.
(American Journal of Psychology, 1912, vol. 23, pp. 75-88.)

[17] M. Bernays: Auslese und Anpassung der Arbeiterschaft der
geschlossenen Grossindustrie, dargestellt an den Verhältnissen der
Gladbacher Spinnerei und Weberei. (Leipzig, 1910, p. 337.)

[18] H.C. McComas: Some Types of Attention. (Psychological Review
Monographs, vol. 13, 3, 1911.)

[19] Max Weber: Zur Psychophysik der industriellen Arbeit. (Archiv für
Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik, 1908 and 1909, vols. 27 and 28.)

[20] Bryan and Harter: Studies in the Telegraphic Language.
(Psychological Review, vol. 4.)

[21] W.F. Book: The Psychology of Skill. (University of Montana,
Publications in Psychology, 1910.)

[22] H. Münsterberg: Beiträge zur experimentellen Psychologie. (Book
iv, 1892.)

[23] A.J. Culler: Interference and Adaptability. (Archives of
Psychology, 1912.)

[24] The experiments are being conducted and will be published by Mr.
L.W. Kline.

[25] Adolf Gerson: Die physiologischen Grundlagen der Arbeitsteilung.
(Zeitschrift für Sozialwissenschaft, 1907.)

[26] Karl Bücher: Arbeit und Rhythmus. (Fourth Edition, Leipzig, 1909,
p. 438.)

[27] Frank G. Gilbreth: Motion Study. (New York, 1911.)

[28] Taylor: The Principles of Scientific Management. (New York, 1911,
p. 71.)

[29] The experiments are being conducted and will be published by Mr.
E.R. Riesen.

[30] R. Herbertz: Zur Psychologie des Maschinenschreibens.
(Zeitschrift für angewandte Psychologie, 1908, vol. 2, p. 551.)

[31] C.L. Vaughan: The Moter Power of Complexity. (Harvard
Psychological Studies, vol. 2, 1906, p. 527.)

[32] G.M. Stratton: Some Experiments in the Perception of the
Movement, Color, and Direction of Lights. (Psychological Review
Monographs, vol. 10, 1908.)

[33] The experiments are being conducted and will be published by Miss
L.M. Seeley.

[34] H. Münsterberg: Beiträge sur experimentellen Psychologie. (Book
iv, 1892.)

[35] R.S. Woodworth: Accuracy of Voluntary Movement. (Psychological
Review Monographs, vol. 8, 1899.)

[36] B.A. Lenfest: The Accuracy of Linear Movement. (Harvard
Psychological Studies, vol. 2, 1906.)

[37] Ranschburg: Ueber die Bedeutung der Ähnlichkeit beim Erlernen,
Behalten und bei der Reproduktion. (Journal für Psychologie und
Neurologie, vol. 6.) Ranschburg: Zeitschrift für Psychologie und
Physiologie der Sinnesorgane. (Vol. 80, 1902.)

[38] H. Kleinknecht: The Interference of Optical Stimuli. (Harvard
Psychological Studies, vol. 2, 1906.)

[39] The experiments are being conducted and will be published by Miss
O.E. Martin.

[40] Henry P. Kendall: Unsystematized, Systematized, and Scientific
Management. (In Addresses and Discussions at the Conference on
Scientific Management held at Dartmouth College, 1912.)

[41] Ernst Abbé: Gesammelte Abhandlungen. (Jena, 1908, vol. 3, p.
206.)

[42] A full survey of the problem and its literature is contained in:
Josephine Goldmark: Fatigue and Efficiency. (New York, 1912.)

[43] F.W. Taylor: The Principles of Scientific Management. (New York,
1911, p. 58.)

[44] W. Hellpach: Die geopsychischen Erscheinungen, Wetter, Klima und
Landschaft und ihr Einfluss auf das Seelenleben (Leipzig, 1911 p.
176-212.)

[45] Aschaffenburg: Praktische Arbeit unter Alkoholwirkung
(Psychologische Arbeiten--Kraepelin, vol 1, 1906.)

[46] Hildebrand Die Beeinflussung der Willenskraft durch den Alkohol
(Königsberg, 1910.)

[47] For the scientific facts concerning alcohol and bibliography
compare Hugo Hoppe: Die Tatsachen über den Alkohol (Munich, 1912.)

[48] H.L. Hollingworth: The Influence of Caffein on Mental and Motor
Efficiency. (New York, 1912.)

[49] Levenstein: Die Arbeiterfrage. (Munich, 1912.)

[50] W.D. Scott: The Psychology of Advertising. (Boston, 1908, p.
166.)

[51] D. Starch: Psychology of Preferred Positions. (Judicious
Advertising, New York, November, 1909.)

[52] C.T. Burnett: The Estimation of Number. (Harvard Psychological
Studies, vol. 2, p. 349.)

[53] E.S. Rogers: The Unwary Purchaser: A Study in the Psychology of
Trade Mark Infringement. (Michigan Law Review, vol. 8, 1910.)

[54] The experiments are being conducted and will be published by Mr.
G.A. Feingold.

[55] W.D. Scott: Influencing Men in Business. (New York, 1911.)



INDEX


Abstinence, 230.

Accidents, 63, 66, 76, 213, 224.

Adjustment, 35, 158.

Advertisement, 255.

Alcohol, 225, 227.

Analysis, 47, 123.

Apperception, 266.

Applied psychology, 5, 10, 15, 304.

Appointment, 116.

Apprentice, 145.

Arguments, 295.

Art, 273.

Artificial track, 71.

Association, 105, 156.

Attention, 21, 66, 101, 106, 135, 197, 206, 284.

Attitude, 68, 75.


Beauty, 272, 278.

Beginner, 182.

Buying, 294.


Caffein, 232.

Capitalism, 143.

Card test, 87.

Choice of vocation, 32, 34.

Color blindness, 30, 57.

Complication, 84.

Concentration, 136.

Confession, 18.

Consciousness, 247.

Conservation, 38.

Consulting psychologist, 307.

Conversation, 208.

Counting, 175.

Correlation, 134.

Court, 292.

Credit bureau, 299.

Criminal, 14.

Customer, 298.


Decision, 85, 94.

Discrimination, 74.

Display, 272.

Dispositions, 27, 125, 170.

Distraction, 206.

Distribution, 276.

Disturbances, 210.

Division of labor, 28, 51, 191.

Dynamogenic, 173.


Economics, 19, 243, 250.

Educational psychology, 11.

Efficiency, 50, 144, 158, 180, 190, 223, 225.

Effort, 161.

Electric railway, 63, 69, 180.

Energy, 175.

Entertainment, 233.

Ergograph, 149.

Exactitude, 186.

Examinations, 29.

Excitability, 226.

Experimental psychology, 4, 57, 251.

Expert, 292.


Factory, 122, 191, 212, 233, 279, 306.

Failure, 35.

Fatigue, 63, 180, 192, 206, 211, 218.

Feeling, 147, 157, 253.

Fitness, 53, 60, 116.

Foresight, 64.


Grading, 103, 107.

Groups, 129.


Habits, 150, 182.

Handwriting, 134.

History, 248.

Household, 177.


Illusions, 277.

Imagination, 66.

Imitation, 236, 282.

Inclination, 126.

Individual differences, 8, 10, 28, 82, 125, 129, 199, 222.

Industrial experiments, 67.

Industry, 59, 160, 191.

Inhibition, 84, 162, 176, 203.

Injuries, 213.

Intelligence, 102.

Interest, 194.

Interference, 154.

Interruption, 183.

Intuition, 53.


Jurisdiction, 283.


Labels, 279, 282.

Labor legislation, 63.

Learning, 141, 147.

Legal psychology, 14, 282.

Localization of sound, 95.

Locomotives, 176.

Logic, 248.


Machine, 160, 162.

Mason, 164.

Meaning, 247.

Medical psychology, 12.

Memory, 101, 147, 171, 226, 227, 259.

Methods, 148.

Mills, 117.

Miniature models, 67.

Monotony, 190, 198.

Motormen, 63, 74.

Movement, 145, 161, 169, 180, 185.

Muscles, 160.


Nationality, 130.

Nervous disease, 13.

Newspaper, 259.

Noise, 173.

Number, 275.

Numerical results, 77.


Optics, 277.

Organization, 154.


Packing, 282.

Pauses, 214.

Pedagogy, 11, 146.

Personality, 112.

Position, 269.

Postal cards, 286.

Prejudices, 133.

Psychiatry, 12.

Psychological laboratories, 5, 45, 257, 304.

Psychophysical law, 252.

Psychotechnics, 17.


Qualities, 27.

Questionnaires, 43.


Race, 130.

Rapidity, 187.

Reaction-time, 54, 65.

Recognition, 268.

Repetition, 148, 162, 192, 262.

Rest, 217.

Rhythm, 162, 187.


Salesman, 294.

Satisfaction, 248.

Saving, 165, 184.

School, 128, 146, 219.

Scientific management, 49, 159, 164, 168, 297.

Selection, 51.

Self-knowledge, 30, 44.

Self-observation, 45.

Selling, 294.

Sewing, 178.

Sex, 132.

Shifting, 118.

Ship models, 67.

Ship service, 83.

Shoveling, 166.

Signals, 176.

Similarity, 283, 286.

Size, 261.

Sleep, 224.

Social influences, 221.

Speed, 169, 233.

Subdivision, 22.

Suggestion, 274, 295.


Task, 237.

Technical sciences, 17.

Technique, 158, 161.

Telegraphy, 150.

Telephone Service, 97.

Temperature, 223.

Tests, 76, 80, 105, 111.

Trade Unions, 50.

Training, 125, 141, 150.

Type-setting, 124.

Typewriting, 151, 170.


Uncertainty, 284.

Unfitness, 31.

Uniformity, 193. 199.


Values, 245.

Visibility, 172.

Vividness, 261.

Vocation, 32, 40, 58.

Vocational counselor, 41.

Vocational guidance, 37, 48.


Wages, 127, 165, 195, 235.

Waste, 38, 145, 160.

Will-impulse, 149, 227.

Witness, 14.

Women, 132, 161.

Working-day, 212, 296.





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+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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