Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Applied Cognitive Psychology 22:6 (2008), pp. 759–768; doi 10.1002/acp.1480; in a special issue on “Basic and Applied Issues in Eyewitness Research: A Münsterberg Centennial Retrospective.” Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Used by permission.


Hugo Münsterberg is widely regarded as the founder of the discipline of psychology and law, and the publication of his book On the Witness Stand (1908) is considered the signal event in its founding. However, numerous other researchers were conducting and publishing research on psycholegal topics in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and at least one other book on psychology and law— G. F. Arnold’s Psychology Applied to Legal Evidence and Other Constructions of Law (1906)—appeared prior to the publication of Münsterberg’s work. The present paper contrasts these two seminal publications, focusing on their relevance to the “basic-versus-applied” debate in contemporary eyewitness memory research and exploring reasons why Münsterberg has been so influential while Arnold has been largely ignored.