An Empirical Test of Carl Jung’s Collective

Jeffrey M Brown, Terence P. Hanningan

Abstract


The current study examined the ability of participants to recall archetypal symbols that have been matched with either their corresponding meanings or mismatched meanings. This experimental design was based on earlier work in this area (Rosen, Smith, Huston, & Gonzalez, 1991) which tested the hypothesis that archetypal symbols that are properly matched with their one word meanings are more easily remembered than mismatched symbol meaning pairs. Their results provided the first scientific evidence of the collective unconscious and enhanced recall of the meanings of unconscious archetypal symbols. The present study took this relationship one step further by using Spanish-English bilingual participants (N = 103) and testing not only the matched versus mismatched dimension, but also the use of Spanish versus English meanings. The addition of the language dimension allowed for a test of the universality of the collective unconscious. The results revealed a significant difference between matched versus mismatched pairs, but no significant differences between recall of English versus Spanish meanings. Thus, these findings also support Jungian theory regarding recall of previously unconscious archetypal symbols and their meanings from the collective unconscious.

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