Alfred Binet - Essay

Topics: Intelligence, Intelligence quotient, William Stern Pages: 7 (1681 words) Published: October 9, 2012




Alfred Binet - Psychologist

Born July 8, 1857 in Nice, France

Died October 18, 1911, aged 54


Alfred Binet was one of the most influential psychologists in history. He developed the first Intelligence Quotient (IQ) test, which was to become used throughout the world. Whilst he pioneered intelligence testing, he also influenced other psychologists to explore and expand on the testing, such as Theodore Simone, Lewis Madison Terman, Henry Herbert Goddard and Jean Piaget. The I.Q. test is still used today to help maximize a persons potential to achieve. Society should be thankful to Alfred Binet for exposing the academic potential in all of us, and being able to measure such potential.

Definition of Intelligence

“It seems to us that in intelligence there is a fundamental faculty, the alteration or the lack of which, is of the utmost importance for practical life. This faculty is judgment, otherwise called good sense, practical sense, initiative, the faculty of adapting one’s self to circumstances. A person may be a moron or an imbecile if he is lacking in judgment; but with good judgment he can never be either. Indeed the rest of the intellectual faculties seem of little importance in comparison with judgment” (Binet & Simon, 1916, 1973,:42-43).


Binet was born in 1857 in Nice, France. His father was a physician and his mother an artist. Sadly though, his parents separated whilst Binet was only a young boy, and so he moved with his mother to live in Paris, where he studied law and graduated with a degree in 1878. He had intended to follow in his fathers footsteps and attend medical school, but his interests lay elsewhere.

When Binet reached his twenties, he became infatuated with psychology, and so, engulfed himself in reading books by Charles Darwin and John Stuart Mills, and I am sure many others. He was a self taught psychologist, as he never studied the subject to obtain any formal record of achievement.

Still in Paris, he was introduced to Jean Charcot, who was the Director of the Salpetriere Hospital, he offered Binet the position of researcher in the neurological clinic; he remained in the position from 1883 – 1889.

Binet became a father in 1885 to Madeleine and in 1887 to Alice; his daughters were to become most instrumental in his study of childrens cognition.

In 1891 until his death in 1894, he worked at the Sorbonne, firstly as a researcher and then as the Director of the Laboratory of Experimental Psychology. It was whist he was at the Sorbonne that Theodore Simon became a doctoral researcher under the supervision of Binet, and this was to become a psychological partnership which would shape the future of intelligence testing.

The Binet Test

Binet began his study into the cognitive processes after the birth of his two daughters Madeleine and Alice, whom were born two years apart. By observing his daughters, he was able to develop many ideas about their cognitive development, thus leading him to to the conclusion that children learn from their experiences and adapt them into their own lives. “The work that he did with his daughters would help to prepare him to understand the concepts of attention span and suggestibility in cognitive development (Plucker, Ideas and Interests: 2).

In the fall of 1904, the Minister of Public Instruction of France appointed a committee to study and make recommendation regarding the education of mentally retarded children in Paris (Zusne, 1975). Both Binet and Simon were employed by the committee to devise a method of assessment for the appropriate placing in the education system for these children.

The main concern for the Minister of Public Instruction was that children whom simply had problems with behaviour were being placed in special classrooms because their teachers...
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