Henri Piéron

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Piéron, Henri


Born July 18, 1881, in Paris; died there Nov. 6, 1964. French psychologist.

Piéron studied at the Sorbonne under T. Ribot and P. Janet. In 1923 he became a professor at the Collège de France. He was a founder of the Institute of Psychology (1921) and the National Institute for Vocational Guidance and the Study of Labor (1928).

Early in his career, Piéron regarded psychology as a biological science of the behavior of man and animals, and he recognized the principal objective method of research to be physiological, histological, and morphological analysis of the brain. His ideas at that time were based on the work of the French physiologist C. Bernard, who believed that the internal medium of the organism was constant. Piéron regarded all mental phenomena as functional elements of adaptive behavior in a certain environment. He maintained that the core of mental life is individual experience and that the mechanisms of acquiring, processing, and using that experience are based on reflex and on nerve association. According to Piéron, these were also the bases of all mental functions (thoughts, perceptions).

Under the influence of the French sociological school, Piéron later turned his attention to the influence of social phenomena on mental functions. However, in investigating separate psychological mechanisms, he did not take into account the actual sociopsychological situations to which an individual is exposed. Piéron’s principal work was devoted to psychophysiology of sensations. He also studied the phylogeny of the mind and brain localization of mental functions.


Technique de psychologie expérimentale. Paris, 1904.
Le Problème physiologique du sommeil. Paris, 1913.
Le Cerveau et la pensée, 2nd ed. Paris, 1923.
L’évolution de la mémoire. Paris, 1929.
De l’actinie à l’homme, vol. 1. Paris, 1958.
Psychologie expérimentale, 8th ed. Paris, 1960.
The Sensation, 3rd ed. London, 1960.
L’homme, rien que l’homme. Paris, 1967.