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Lecture 3

PSYC37H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Brass Instrument, Physiognomy, Experimental Psychology

Course Code
Anthony Ruocco

of 4
Psychological Assessment - Lecture #3 - Jan 22/13
History of Psychological Testing
According to Robert J. Gregory:
“Students of psychology generally regard historical issues as dull, dry, and pedantic, and
sometimes these prejudices are well deserved…”
“In reality, the history of psychological testing is a captivating story that has substantial
relevance to present-day practices” (p. 41)
Historical Timeline
Han Dynasty (2220 B.C.)
Physiognomy and Phrenology (384 B.C./1810)
Charles Darwin and Sir Francis Galton (~1859-1883)
Experimental Psychology and Psychophysical Measurement (~1866-1912)
Intelligence Tests (~1905-1930’s)
Personality and Vocational Tests (1920-1940’s)
Rudimentary Forms of Testing in China in 2200 B.C
Emperor had his officials examined every third year for fitness for office - important to select
good people
Written exams were introduced in the Han dynasty to test civil law, military affairs,
agriculture, revenue and geography
Final Form of Chinese Examination System
Round 1: Spend one day and night in a small isolated booth composing essays on assigned topics
and writing a poem
Round 2: Three separate sessions of three days and three nights going through more testing!
Round 3: Travel to Peking for a final round of examinations to finally become mandarins eligible
for public office - reason for so much writing is because the actual talent in their writing was
important whether it was relevant or not in the office
criticisms: unnecessarily grueling and failed to validate selection procedures - abolished by
royal decree in 1906, is it a valid procedure? probably not- sort of like GRE but used for
incremental validity
Physiognomy is based on the notion that we can judge the inner character of people from
their outward appearance - some evidence [some validity] that snap judgements of the face
can make correct suggests about persons personality
Psychological Assessment - Lecture #3 - Jan 22/13
Phrenology -bumps on the skull represent brain area that's better developed reflects certain
Franz Joseph Gall (17581828)
Brain capacities are localized
When a specific faculty develops, the corresponding brain area enlarges
Causes a “bump” on the skull
Psychograph is used to automatically read these bumps
Charles Darwin and Individual Differences
Darwin posited that higher forms of life evolved partially because of differences among
individual forms of life within a species
those with the best or most adaptive characteristics survive at the expense of those who are
less fit - if every single person is the same there is no point in psychological testing, we are
assuming that people are different in so many abilities and traits [individual differences]
Sir Francis Galton and James Cattell
Galton (a relative of Darwin's) set out to show that some characteristics made them more fit
than others, and he began to experimentally study individual differences in human sensory
and motor functioning - ex. dropping a metre stick in front of a person and asking that person
to catch it as soon as prof drops it and then measure where she caught it to predict her
reaction time
Cattell (1890) coined the term mental test and for example studied individual differences in
reaction times - main developers of 'test' and he is the one who came up with the term mental
Experimental Psychology and Psychophysical Measurement
Known as the Brass Instruments Era of testing, which emphasized objective methods -
Used assorted brass instruments to measure sensory thresholds (situations where you might
have a sound) and reaction times BUT mistook simple sensory processes for intelligence
University of Toronto has a Brass Instrument Psychology Museum! - the instruments
displayed in this exhibition represent the earliest research and teaching program in experimental
psychology in Canada; hand dynamometer - measure of grip strength (still used now)
Cattell Imports Brass Instruments to the United States
Wissler (Cattell’s student) tries to validate brass instrument testing with over 300 students
Found very little correlation between mental test scores and academic performance
Psychological Assessment - Lecture #3 - Jan 22/13
This paved the way to Alfred Binet’s more sensible and useful measures of higher mental
Intelligence Tests
At the turn of the 20th century, French minister of public instruction appointed a commission
to study ways of identifying intellectually subnormal individuals in order to provide them
with appropriate educational experiences - intelligence testing was born out of the way to
identify mental retardation not to find gifted people
Alfred Binet invented the first modern intelligence test in 1905
Binet and Testing for Higher Mental Processes
Intelligence could be better measured by means of higher mental processes rather than the
elementary sensory processes such as reaction time
Tested a standardization (or comparison/normative) sample of 50 typically developing
The Revised Scalesand the Advent of IQ
In 1908, the original Binet test was revised, which included increasing standardization
sample to 200+
Mental level (they also ordered subtests according to age level at which they were
typically passed by children) - back in the day ; IQ was chronological age compared with
mental age - ex. if you're 16 but have a mental age of a 6 year old
Basal age (lowest level at which not more than one test was failed) - basic level of
ability , identifying the lowest level of passing a test for example and then go above the
basal level by challenging them, so how much more you can get right on the test ** TEST
QUESTION example: intelligence test, vocabulary test - give someone words and ask
them to define the words- so questions 1, 2, 3, 4 ,5 ,6 and question 5 is define a tree and
question 6 is define a house, in test manual it would say if either 5 or 6 is wrong go to
questions 1 and 2 which are much simpler questions - basal rule - two need to be
consecutively correct and once you reached that which is the basic level of ability you can
go beyond question 6
idiot, moron, imbecile, feebleminded - were categories for people who had low IQ scores
Early Uses and Abuses of Tests in the United States
In 1910, Goddard was invited to Ellis Island to help make the examination of immigrants
more accurate
Goddard’s scholarly views were influenced by the social ideologies of his time was anti-