German-American psychologist and philosopher noted for his work on the applications of psychology to law, business, industry, medicine, teaching and sociology.
Munsterberg studied medicine at the University of Leipzig. In 1883, having attended a lecture on psychology, he entered the university's psychological laboratory. In 1885 he earned a PhD in psychology and in 1887 his medical degree.
Munsterberg took a philosophy lecturing post at the University of Freiburg. In the absence of a psychological laboratory he equipped his own rooms with apparatus. He later moved to Harvard University in the United States to take charge of the psychological laboratory there. He remained at Harvard for the rest of his life.
He was elected president of the American Psychological Association in 1898 and gave many lectures across the country. He conducted groundbreaking research into the application of psychological methods in practical situations such as crime detection and built a foundation for the use of psychology in the areas of industry, medicine, arts and education.
Munsterberg 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 criticism. In 1916 he died suddenly while on a lecture platform.