A short history of ideo-motor action
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The ideo-motor theory, which is currently receiving heightened interest in cognitive psychology, looks back on a long history. Essentially two historical roots can be presented. A British one, initiated by Laycock (1845) and Carpenter (1852), which was developed in order to explain ideo-motor phenomena by means of cerebral reflex actions. A second and older root is the German one by Herbart (1816, 1825), Lotze (1852), and Harless (1861), which considered the ideo-motor principle a fundamental mechanism of all intentional human behaviour. Both roots converged in James’ (1890) Principles of Psychology before they fell into oblivion due to the dominance of behaviorism in the first half of the 20th century. The few empirical ideo-motor studies of the early 20th century are briefly described. Finally, similarities and differences in the history of the ideo-motor theory are delineated and a perspective is given covering research questions that could be examined in the future.