James McKeen Cattell
Researched and written by: Kristina M. Green
|I attest that the following biography is a
product of my own original
felt myself making brilliant
discoveries in science and philosophy. My only fear being that I could
remember them until morning” James McKeen Cattell (D. Schultz, S.
Professor, you need an
assistant, and I shall be your assistant” (Cattell, 1928, et al D.
Cattell was the
first child born to William Cattell and Elizabeth McKeen in Easton, Pennsylvania
in 1860. William Cattell had served as a Presbyterian minister and as
president of Lafayette College in Pennsylvania,
and Elizabeth McKeen had an inheritance, making the Cattell's a wealthy
family name was also a prominent because uncle, Alexander Gilmore
a senator representing New
a talent in the area of mathematics at a young age along with a love
English literature. In 1880, he graduated with honors from Lafayette College
and later received his M.A. with honors also from Lafayette College.
Cattell next traveled to Germany
and attended the University
of Gottingen and then the University of Leipzig.
It was at the University
of Leipzig that
met Wilhelm Wundt, the founder of experimental psychology. Cattell
impressive paper on philosophy that won him a fellowship at Johns Hopkins University.
second year at Hopkins,
G Stanley Hall taught a psychology course that Cattell in which
Hopkins at that time offered no other Psychology courses and Cattell
to study as an assistant with Wundt.
When Cattell first
entered Wundts labatory, he said, “Herr Professor, you need an
assistant, and I
shall be your assistant” (Schultz, Schultz, 2004 p.219). Wundt and
worked well together and created a study on human intelligence.
working with Wundt, published the first dissertation in psychology
Psychometric Investigation. In his dissertation, Cattell researched
differences in human intelligence.
Cattell’s interest in psychology had flourished in him
through experimentation with drugs. He was interested in and had tried
morphine, hashish, opium and other drugs. He recorded the effects that
on him. It was Cattell’s way of
exploring and analyzing his own mind. It was stated in an article
www.wikipedia.org that “Under the influence of this drug, Cattell once
the whistle of a schoolboy to a symphony orchestra” (www.wikipedia.org #1). Cattell
in his journal of his usage and experiences while under the influence
various drugs. Cattell once stated, “I felt myself making brilliant
in science and philosophy. My only fear being that I could not remember
until morning.” Cattell further stated that, “I seemed to be two
persons one of
whom could observe and even experiment on the other” (www.wikipedia.org1987, p25).
received his Ph.D.
worked hard to establish
psychology as a science. He felt psychology’s growth depended on the
quantitative methods. He was first employed at Bryn
in the United States
as a teacher of psychology. He also taught at the University of Pennsylvania.
He became a professor at Cambridge
and met Francis Galton who
shared an interest in the topic of individual differences.
In the year 1888, Cattell was appointed to
the position of department head at Columbia University’s
Philosophy, and Anthropology department. Under Cattell’s supervision Columbia University awarded more
doctorates in the
psychology department than any other U.S graduate school. He also
served as president
of the Association for Psychology in America, from 1891-1905.
became interested in business and began purchasing stock for APA
unfortunately, that business deal failed. As a professor, Cattell felt
should keep a distance between him and the University. He gave his
opportunity to explore psychology to grow on their own, and find their
the first American to instruct a
statistical analysis course. He developed the order of merit ranking
shared an interest in Galton’s eugenics theory and supported
less intelligent people. Cattell also felt that individuals of high
intelligence should be paid to mate. He promised his own children
marry and mate with a professor’s child. While at the University
of Pennsylvania, Cattell
began to use the
term “mental testing” in 1890, which he continued to use at Columbia. He did
experiments mainly on
sensorimotor functions difference in weights and how long it took to
colors two point-thresholds, of colors level of pressure needed to
cause pain, and
reaction time for sound. (www.indiana.edu/~intell/jcattell.shtml)
Contributions to Psychology
In 1890, Catell
published Mental Tests and Measurements
and then the Measurements of the Accuracy
of Recollection. Catell was the co-founder and co-editor of The Psychological Review (1894-1903)
with J. Mark. From 1894 to 1944 Catell, performed the duties of
editor of the Journal of Science. In
1900, Catell purchased Popular Science America and in
the name and published it as Scientific
Monthly. Men of Science was issued
by Cattell in 1906. In 1921, Cattell founded the Psychological
founded the Science Press in 1923 (www.vlp.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/people/data).
The Columbia University considered
forcing Cattell to retire at least three times between the years
protested on many occasions that the faculty, not administrators,
the decisions at Columbia.
He also wrote two letters to Congressmen challenging the drafting of
for combat. Those letters led to Cattell’s dismissal from the Columbia University
and to him being viewed as disloyal to the United States.
In return, Cattell
sued the University for $40,000 and won. Cattell separated himself from
professors and continuously wrote critical letters about the
administration at Columbia.