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Journal Article

Community and association of ideas: A statistical study

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Jastrow, J. (1894). Community and association of ideas: A statistical study. Psychological Review, 1, 152-158. doi:10.1037/h0069606.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-B15C-8
The application of statistics to the study of mental phenomena promises to supply the data for new and suggestive generalizations, as well as to corroborate, often in an unexpected manner, the laws of mind derived from off-hand observation. The census and newspaper statistics on matters large and small have familiarized us with the notion that facts which separately may have but little importance, when considered in groups give rise to significant truths. In the hope of contributing to our knowledge of the nature and regularity of such mental processes, I have upon various occasions requested a class of students to serve as the subjects of experiment. In the test here to be described a word was written upon the blackboard and, by the withdrawal of a screen was shown to the whole class at the same moment; each, student thereupon wrote as rapidly as possible the five words first suggested to him by the word upon the board. In this way five associations were obtained from each student to each of the following ten words: book, man, tree, cat, hand, hat, bread, pen, write, blue. By counting separately for each of the five associations how often different students have written the same word we may determine the degree of similarity of their associations, and further how this community of ideas varies as the associations recede from their common starting-point