A Hundred Years of Psychology, 1833-1933

By J. C. Flugel | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XV
PSYCHOLOGY AND INDUSTRY

THE problems of work, including those of practice and fatigue, are to some extent common to education and industry. From the pioneer researches of Kraepelin onwards, there has been a long series of studies dealing with work in all its aspects--with various kinds of tasks carried out under various conditions by different kinds of subjects. Some of these researches have been on a heroic scale, such as that of Arai, who, for days in succession, multiplied mentally one four-place number by another four- place number for twelve hours on end. Others, such as those of Phillips, Entwistle and the present writer have involved a relatively short experiment carried out by fairly numerous subjects for many days in succession. Still others have aimed at determining the influence of rest pauses, of the effect of varying the total length of the working day, and similar problems of importance to industry. In general, it has been shown that, as regards the effect of practice, the "curve of learning" rises sharply to begin with, and thereafter grows gradually flatter until the "limit of practice" has been attained. It is very clear, however, that the strength of the incentives in operation has an immense influence, both upon the steepness with which the curve rises, and upon the ultimate height attained--at any rate with simple kinds of work in which speed is an important factor (cp. p. 316). With relatively dull tasks, such as simple arithmetic, quite astonishingly good performances have been recorded by whole classes of school-children, when sufficiently powerful incentives have been offered. Rest pauses are nearly always beneficial, though their "spacing" and

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A Hundred Years of Psychology, 1833-1933
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