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Metal Mazes


There are two very similar objects. They consist of a square, unpainted wooden base and thin strips of metal set vertically on the base. The strips have been shaped to form the railings of a circular maze with six strata. At the center of the mazes, the sixth stratum, a circular hole has been carved through the base.
The metal railings of the mazes have been welded to smaller strips of the same material, height, and width, to form the ‘dead ends’ of the mazes. As a result, each maze exists as a single structural component. This is securely attached to the base by means of nails welded to the metal at the dead end corners. The nails have been affixed into the base so that the maze may not be rotated or removed from the base without damage to the object.
On the front right corner of the base of one of the mazes facing horizontally there is evidence of a previous label with a small amount of remaining adhesive. The metal aspect has been painted with beige and black alternating sections.

Accession Number: 2013.psy.148.1-2

Alternative Name:

Primary Materials: Wood, metal

Markings: On the base: “Front”.

Dimensions (cm): Height = 2, Width = 27, Length = 30.5

Function: Unknown.


Good overall. The object shows general markings typical of wear and tear including slight chipping of the paint on the metal strips and minor scratches to the wooden base. The most substantial scratch to the base is on the underside of the maze. The metal aspect is securely attached to the base.

Associated Instruments:


Date of Manufacture:


Department of Psychology, University of Toronto

Additional Information and References:

The object closely resembles a maze described and pictured in Dr. John B Watson’s article “A Circular Maze with Camera Lucida Attachment,” published in 1914 in the Journal of Animal Behaviour, and again the same year in Watson’s book “Behaviour: An Introduction to Comparative Psychology”. Watson’s maze was first used by Helen Hubbert to test “the difference in the acquisition of habits of animals of different ages” (Watson 1914a, 58).
However, the dimensions of the maze currently in the care of UTSIC do not match those detailed by Watson; this maze is far too small and thus may not be conclusively identified with Watson’s circular maze.
In an e-mail correspondence from February 26, 2014, it was suggested by Dr. Hank Stam at the University of Calgary that the maze may be a prototype or model of Watson’s circular maze “for teaching purposes,” or an adaptation of Watson’s maze to test smaller species. Dr. Christopher Green at York University similarly provided that the maze may have been used for insect testing (e-mail February 22, 2014). However, it was articulated in both cases that these possibilities are purely speculative.

Watson, John B. 1914a. “A Circular Maze with Camera Lucida Attachment.” Journal of Animal Behaviour 4 (1): 56-59.

Watson, John B. 1914b. “Circular Maze Test.” In Behaviour: An Introduction to Comparative Psychology by Watson, 100-102. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

Historical Notes: