PSYC37H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Word Association, Neurology, American Psychologist

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31 Jan 2013
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Psychological Testing Chapter 2 The history of Psychological Testing
The origins of psychological testing
Rudimentary forms of testing date back to 2200 B.C. in China. The Chinese emperors used gruelling
written exams to select officials for civil service.
In the mid-to late 1800’s, several physicians and psychiatrist developed standardized procedures to
reveal the nature and extent of symptoms in the mentally ill and brain injured. For example, in
1885, Hubert von Grashey developed the precursor to the memory drum to test visual recognition
skill of brain-injured patients.
Modern psychological testing owes its inception to the era of brass instruments psychology that
flourished in Europe during the late 1800s. By testing sensory thresholds and reaction times,
pioneer test developers such as Sir Francis Galton demonstrated that it was possible to measure the
mind in an objective and replicable manner
Wilhelm Wundt founded the first psychological laboratory in 1879 in Leipzig, Germany. Included
among his earlier investigations was his 1862 attempt to measure the speed of thought with the
thought metre, a calibrated pendulum with needles sticking off from each side
The first reference to mental tests occurred in 1890 in a classic paper by James McKeen Cattell, an
American psychologist who had studied with Galton. Cattell imported the brass instruments
approach to the US
One of Cattell’s students, Clark Wissler, showed that reaction time and sensory discrimination
measures did not correlate with college grades, thereby redirecting the mental-testing movement
away from brass instruments
In the late 1800’s, a newfound humanism toward the mentally retarded, reflected in the diagnostic
and remedial work of French physicians Esquirol and Seguin, helped create the necessity for early
intelligence tests
Alfred Binet, who was to invent the first true intelligence test, began his career by studying
hysterical paralysis with the French neurologist Charcot. Binet’s claim that magnetism could cure
hysteria was, to his pained embarrassment, disproved. Shortly thereafter, he switched interests and
conducted sensory-perceptual studies, using his children as subjects
In 1905, Binet and Simon developed the first useful intelligence test in Paris, France. Their simple
30-item measure of mainly higher mental functions helped identify schoolchildren who could not
profit from regular instruction. Curiously, there was no method for scoring the test
In 1908, Binet and Simon published a revised 58-item scale that incorporated the concept of mental
level. In 1911, a third revision of the Binet-Simon scales appeared. Each age level now had exactly
five tests; the scale extended into the adult range
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