Joseph Jastrow (January 30, 1863 – January 8, 1944) was a Polish-born American psychologist notorious for inventions in experimental psychology, design of experiments, and psychophysics.[1] He also worked on the phenomena of optical illusions, and a number of well-known optical illusions (notably the Jastrow illusion) that were either first reported in or popularized by his work. Jastrow believed that everyone had their own, often incorrect, preconceptions about psychology.[2] One of his ultimate goals was to use the scientific method to identify truth from error, and educate the layperson, which Jastrow accomplished through speaking tours, popular print media, and the radio.[3]

Joseph Jastrow
Joseph Jastrow
Born(1863-01-30)January 30, 1863
Warsaw, Poland
DiedJanuary 8, 1944(1944-01-08) (aged 80)
Alma materJohns Hopkins University
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Wisconsin–Madison
ThesisThe Perception of Space by Disparate Senses (1886)
Doctoral advisorCharles Sanders Peirce
Doctoral studentsClark L. Hull

Biography edit

Jastrow was born in Warsaw, Poland. A son of Talmud scholar Marcus Jastrow, Joseph Jastrow was the younger brother of the orientalist, Morris Jastrow, Jr. Joseph Jastrow came to Philadelphia in 1866 and received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.[1] During his doctoral studies at Johns Hopkins University, Jastrow worked with C. S. Peirce on experiments in psychophysics that introduced randomization and blinding for a repeated measures design.[4][a] Though Peirce had to leave the university due to a personal scandal, Jastrow continued to work towards his developments.[6] From 1888 until his retirement in 1927, Jastrow was a professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he advised Clark L. Hull.[1] He was a lecturer at the New School of Social Research from 1927 to 1933.[1]

Jastrow was head of the psychological section of the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893,[7] where he collected "psychophysical and reaction time data" from thousands of attendees.[8] He was one of the charter members of the American Psychological Association, and eventually became the president in 1900.[1]

Jastrow was noted for his outreach in popular media, exposing the general public to research in psychology.[9] He gave public lectures, and was published in popular magazines, including Popular Science, Cosmopolitan, and Harper's Monthly.[10][11] He also wrote Keeping Mentally Fit, a syndicated column that appeared in 150 newspapers.[9] Jastrow also gave radio talks from 1935 to 1938 through the Philadelphia Public Ledger Syndicate.[12]  

Jastrow also suffered from bouts of depression throughout his life.[8] He died in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.[13] His wife was Rachel Szold, a sister of Henrietta Szold.[3] Elisabeth Jastrow, the classical archaeologist, was a cousin.

His former home was in Madison, Wisconsin, which is now located in the Langdon Street Historic District.

Psychical research edit

Jastrow was one of the founding members of the American Society for Psychical Research for study of the "mesmeric, psychical, and spiritual".[14][15] The early members of the society were skeptical of paranormal phenomena; Jastrow took a psychological approach to psychical phenomena, believing that it was foolish to separate "... a class of problems from their natural habitat ...".[14][16] By 1890 he had resigned from the society, and he became an outspoken critic of parapsychology.[14] Psychical researchers were rarely trained psychologists, and Jastrow thought their research lacked credibility.[17] Given the lack of evidence of psychical phenomena, he believed psychologists should not prioritize disproving claimed psychical phenomenon.[18] In his book The Psychology of Conviction (1918) he included an entire chapter exposing what he called Eusapia Palladino's tricks.[19]

Anomalistic psychology edit

Jastrow was a leading figure in the field of anomalistic psychology.[20] His book Fact and Fable in Psychology (1900) debunked claims of occultism including Spiritualism, Theosophy and Christian Science.[21] He approached the occult in a scientific manner.[22] He wanted to understand why people were attracted to it, how it gained a foothold in society, and what evidence its supporters used.[23] He wrote that many people considered coincidence, dreams, and premonitions as sources of information above science,[24] and said the role of the scientist was to help the public understand truth from fiction, and to prevent the spreading of erroneous beliefs.[25]

Jastrow studied the psychology of paranormal belief and viewed paranormal phenomena as "totally unscientific and misleading", being the result of delusion, fraud, gullibility and irrationality.[26]

Other research edit

Use of analogy in society edit

Jastrow thought that analogies represented a more primitive way of interpreting the world.[27] He gave many examples of cultures that acted analogously, including the "Zulu chewing a bit of wood to soften the heart ...", and the "Illinois Indians making figures of those whose days they desire to shorten, and stabbing these images in the heart."[28] He wrote about cultures that ate animals to gain their physical attributes;[29] he said this tradition still persisted in his day, through superstitions, rituals, and folk medicine.[30] The underlying motivation for this mentality, Jastrow wrote, was that "one kind of connection ... will bring it to others."[30]

Optical illusions edit

Chick bunny

Jastrow was interested in perception, especially eyesight. He thought that eyesight was more complex than a camera, and that the mental processing of images was central to interpretation of the world.[31] He illustrated this through optical illusions, including the rabbit-duck illusion.[32] He believed that what people saw also depended on their emotional state and their surroundings.[33]

Involuntary movement edit

The automatograph

To detect unconscious movement of the hand, Jastrow invented a machine he called the automagraph.[34] He found that when a subject was asked to concentrate on an object, their hand moved unconsciously in that direction.[35] The magnitude of the effect varied across individuals, especially in children, where the movement was more random.[36]

Dreams of the blind edit

Jastrow found that people who had lost their eyesight after age six still were able to see in their dreams, and that people who had lost their eyesight before the age of five could not.[37] This same difference in perception and age was true for people with partial vision loss.[38] Jastrow concluded that sight was not innate, and that significant mental development occurred between ages five and seven.[39] He noted that hearing, not sensation, was the primary sense of the blind, in both waking and dream.[40] He collected first-hand accounts of dreams from visually impaired people, including Helen Keller.[41]

Criticisms of psychoanalysis and Freud edit

As early as 1913, at the congress of the German Psychiatric Association held in Breslau, Joseph Jastrow criticized psychoanalysis as unscientific and pseudoscience. He published a book (The House that Freud Built.[42]) about it in 1932.[43]

Publications edit

Jastrow's publications include:

  • Charles Sanders Peirce and Joseph Jastrow (1885). "On Small Differences in Sensation". Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences. 3: 73–83.
  • Jastrow, Joseph (1890). The Time-Relations of Mental Phenomena. New York: N.D.C. Hodges. Time Relations of Mental Phenomena.
  • Oldenberg, Hermann; Jastrow, Joseph; Cornill, Carl Heinrich (1890). Epitomes of Three Sciences: Comparative Philology, Psychology, and Old Testament History. Open Court Publishing Company.
  • Jastrow, Joseph (1900). Fact and Fable in Psychology. Houghton, Mifflin and Co.
  • Jastrow, Joseph (1906). The Subconscious. Houghton, Mifflin. p. 3.
  • Jastrow, Joseph (1910). The Qualities of Men: An Essay in Appreciation. Houghton, Mifflin. The Qualities of Men.
  • Jastrow, Joseph (1915). Character and Temperament. Appleton. Character and Temperament.
  • "Charles Peirce as a Teacher" in The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific Methods, v. 13, n. 26, December, 723–726 (1916). Google Books and text-string search.
  • Jastrow, Joseph (1918). The Psychology of Conviction: A Study of Beliefs and Attitudes. Houghton Mifflin Co. p. 1. The Psychology of Conviction.
  • Jastrow, Joseph (1932). The House that Freud Built. Greenberg.
  • Jastrow, Joseph (1932). Wish and Wisdom: Episodes in the Vagaries of Belief. Appleton-Century.
  • Jastrow, Joseph (1936). Story of Human Error. Books for Libraries Press. ISBN 9780836905687.

Notes edit

  1. ^ The Peirce-Jastrow experiment is increasingly recognized as the first properly randomized experiment, which led to psychology (and education) having laboratories for and textbooks on randomized experiments (decades before Ronald A. Fisher).[5]

Citations edit

  1. ^ a b c d e Hull 1944, p. 581.
  2. ^ Jastrow 1900, p. vii.
  3. ^ a b Kimble, Wertheimer & White 2013, p. 78.
  4. ^ * Peirce, Charles Sanders; Jastrow, Joseph (1885). "On Small Differences in Sensation". Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences. 3: 73–83.
  5. ^ Hacking, Ian (September 1988). "Telepathy: Origins of Randomization in Experimental Design". Isis. 79 (3): 427–451. doi:10.1086/354775. JSTOR 234674. MR 1013489. S2CID 52201011.
    Stephen M. Stigler (November 1992). "A Historical View of Statistical Concepts in Psychology and Educational Research". American Journal of Education. 101 (1): 60–70. doi:10.1086/444032. S2CID 143685203.
    Dehue, Trudy (December 1997). "Deception, Efficiency, and Random Groups: Psychology and the Gradual Origination of the Random Group Design" (PDF). Isis. 88 (4): 653–673. doi:10.1086/383850. PMID 9519574. S2CID 23526321.
  6. ^ Pettit, Michael (2007). "Joseph Jastrow, the psychology of deception, and the racial economy of observation". Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences. 43 (2): 159–175. doi:10.1002/jhbs.20221. ISSN 0022-5061. PMID 17421028.
  7. ^ Hull 1944, p. 582.
  8. ^ a b Kimble, Wertheimer & White 2013, p. 82.
  9. ^ a b Kimble, Wertheimer & White 2013, p. 86.
  10. ^ Hull 1944, p. 582,584.
  11. ^ Kimble, Wertheimer & White 2013, p. 84.
  12. ^ Cadwallader, Thomas C. (September 1987). "Origins and accomplishments of Joseph Jastrow's 1888-founded chair of comparative psychology at the University of Wisconsin". Journal of Comparative Psychology. 101 (3): 231–236. doi:10.1037/0735-7036.101.3.231. ISSN 1939-2087.
  13. ^ John F. Oppenheimer. (1971). Lexikon des Judentums. Bertelsmann. p. 321. ISBN 978-3570059647
  14. ^ a b c Coon 1992, p. 144.
  15. ^ Jastrow 1900, p. 50.
  16. ^ Jastrow 1900, p. 54.
  17. ^ Coon 1992, p. 148.
  18. ^ Jastrow 1900, p. 74.
  19. ^ Joseph Jastrow. (1918). The Psychology of Conviction. Houghton Mifflin Company. pp. 101–127.
  20. ^ Leonard Zusne, Warren H. Jones. (1989). Anomalistic Psychology: A Study of Magical Thinking. Psychology Press. pp. 10–12. ISBN 978-0805805086
  21. ^ Jastrow 1900, pp. 7–18, 26–33.
  22. ^ Jastrow 1900, p. 4.
  23. ^ Jastrow 1900, pp. 4, 13–14.
  24. ^ Jastrow 1900, p. 40.
  25. ^ Jastrow 1900, p. 46.
  26. ^ Lawrence R. Samuel. (2011). Supernatural America: A Cultural History. Praeger. pp. 9–10. ISBN 978-0313398995
  27. ^ Jastrow 1900, p. 238.
  28. ^ Jastrow 1900, p. 240.
  29. ^ Jastrow 1900, p. 242.
  30. ^ a b Jastrow 1900, p. 253.
  31. ^ Jastrow 1900, p. 275.
  32. ^ Jastrow 1900, p. 295.
  33. ^ Jastrow 1900, p. 294–296.
  34. ^ Kimble, Wertheimer & White 2013, p. 79.
  35. ^ Jastrow 1900, p. 312–313.
  36. ^ Jastrow 1900, p. 332–333.
  37. ^ Jastrow 1900, p. 342.
  38. ^ Jastrow 1900, p. 343–344.
  39. ^ Jastrow 1900, p. 369.
  40. ^ Jastrow 1900, p. 364.
  41. ^ Jastrow 1900, p. 353–358.
  42. ^
  43. ^ Le dossier Freud : enquête sur l’histoire de la psychanalyse by Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen and Sonu Shamdasani,2006

References edit

External links edit