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July 4, 1908

On the Witness Stand.

JAMA. 1908;LI(1):59. doi:10.1001/jama.1908.02540010063019

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Witnesses in courts of law are examined and investigated as to veracity and character, but little as to competency in observation. Münsterberg illustrates the error in this oversight by the results of experiments: Those who saw a pre-arranged quarrel write out accounts of it, and differ radically on essential points; students are asked to state the length of time between two sounds and variously estimate it from half a second to sixty seconds; the actual time being ten seconds, etc. The actions of the mind are being studied more and psychology is destined to occupy a more important position. Münsterberg takes up hypnotism, suggestion, untrue confessions, and the association test for crime, recently described in The Journal by Dr. Scripture. The book is not an elaborate treatise—only some fragmentary popular sketches which call attention to the importance from legal and humanitarian points of view of understanding how the mind operates

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