Hugo Münsterberg ( 1863 – 1916 ) was a German-American psychologist. He was one of the pioneers in applied psychology, extending his research and theories to Industrial/Organizational (I/O), legal, medical, clinical, educational and business settings.Münsterberg encountered immense turmoil with the outbreak of the First World War. Torn between his loyalty to America and his homeland, he often defended Germany's actions, attracting highly contrasting reactions.
In 1891, he was promoted to assistant professorship and attended the First International Congress of psychology where he met William James. They kept up a frequent correspondence and in 1892 James invited him to Harvard for a three year term as a chair of the psychology lab even though Münsterberg did not speak English at the time. He learned to speak English rather quickly and as a result his classes became very popular with students, in fact he was attracting students from James's classes.
Over time Münsterberg's interests turned to the many practical applications of psychological principles, he felt very strongly that psychologists had the responsibility to uncover information that could then be used in real world applications. In fact he was the first to apply psychological principles to the legal field, creating forensic psychology.
In 1908, Münsterberg published his controversial book, On the Witness Stand (1908) which is a collection of magazine articles previously published by him where he discuses the many different psychological factors that can change a trial's outcome and pointed the way for rational and scientific means for probing the facts claimed by human witnesses by the application of experimental psychology to the administration of law. He is also credited with being among the first to consider jury research.
In Psychology and Industrial Efficiency (1913) Münsterberg addressed many different topics that are very important to the current field of industrial psychology.
Münsterberg and his brothers converted to Lutheranism soon after their father's death in 1880. He believed in God and life after death but was an opponent to spiritualism and had a "great record of exposing mediums and other psychic charlatans".
On 18 December 1909, in New York, Münsterberg exposed the fraud mediumship of Eusapia Palladino. With the help of a hidden man lying under a table, Münsterberg caught Palladino levitating a table with her foot. Some investigators were originally baffled how Palladino could move curtains from a distance when all the doors and windows in the séance room were closed, but it was discovered by Münsterberg that she moved the curtains by releasing a jet of air from a rubber bulb that she had in her hand.
“You can make the hypnotized subject do almost anything, but you cannot make him will to do it.” This is the sine qua non of hypnotism. [ Sine qua non ]