The association experiment is not merely a method for the reproduction of separated word couplets, but it is a kind of pastime, a conversation between experimenter and test person. In a certain sense it is even still more than that. Words are really something like condensed actions, situations, and things.
When I present a word to the test person which denotes an action it is the same as if I should present to him the action itself, and ask him:
“How do you behave towards it? What do you think of it? What do you do in this situation?”
If I were a magician I should cause the situation corresponding to the stimulus word to appear in reality and placing the test person in its midst, I should then study his manner of reaction. The result of my stimulus words would thus undoubtedly approach infinitely nearer perfection.
But as we are not magicians we must be contented with the linguistic substitutes for reality; at the same time we must not forget that the stimulus word will as a rule always conjure up its corresponding situation.
Jung: The Association Method
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