Imagery in Psychology: A Reference Guide

Imagery in Psychology: A Reference Guide

Imagery in Psychology: A Reference Guide

Imagery in Psychology: A Reference Guide

Synopsis

This volume on imagery includes more than 3,500 citations and references pertaining to the topic, as well as more than 400 recent annotated entries in a bibliographic section, culled from some 133,000 studies on this topic that have appeared in literature. Tracing the lineage and evolution of the concept of image and imagery in psychology, this work includes definitions and domains of the terms, early and modern perspectives, theoretical aspects, applications and functions. An emphasis is placed on a traditionalist and experimental/empirical approach to understanding imagery in psychology. This work is a historical background source, as well as a state-of-the-art reference.

Excerpt

The notion of imagery and images as “little pictures in the mind or head” has been a persistent and debatable issue in philosophy and psychology for a relatively long time, appearing in ideas and writings as early as those of the ancient Greek philosophers Plato (c. 427-347 B.C.) and Aristotle (c. 384-322 B.C.). Plato asserted that mental images are like patterns etched in wax where individual differences may be understood in terms of properties of the wax, such as its purity, temperature, and so on (cf. Kosslyn, 1994, p. 1). Aristotle maintained that mental images are copies of sensory input and are the primary symbols of thinking (“The soul never thinks without a mental picture”; see Sommer, 1978, p. 42), along with various other secondary and derivative symbols. Aristotle's powerful influence on the imagery issue remained intact until the seventeenth century when the British philosophers Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume developed and expanded Aristotle's ideas. Included among the innovative approaches and perspectives during this time was the origination and enunciation of the “laws of association” (see Roeckelein, 1998, pp. 44-48) that attempted to explain how simple images may be combined into more complex images and how one image may serve in the recall of other mental images.

Following the formal establishment of psychology as a scientific discipline—most notably via Wilhelm Wundt in 1879 at the University of Leipzig—the discourse on mental imagery passed from the rational/ empiricist philosophers to the experimental psychologists who attempted to study images and imagery scientifically as part of the larger goal or program of studying the contents of the mind and of human experience.

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