James Mckeen Cattell Contributions to Psychology

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James McKeen Cattell
James McKeen Cattell was born on May 25, 1860, in Easton, Pennsylvania, where his father was soon to be president of Lafayette College from 1863 to 1883. He received his bachelor's degree from Lafayette in 1880, spent two years traveling and studying in Germany, and returned to the United States in 1882 as a graduate fellow in philosophy at The Johns Hopkins University. Returning to Leipzig in the fall of 1883, he earned his doctoral degree in experimental psychology under Wilhelm Wundt in 1886, with a dissertation that examined reaction times for various simple mental processes (Sokal, 1981). After completing his doctorate, Cattell spent two years at Cambridge University, where he founded England's first laboratory in experimental psychology. While at Cambridge, Cattell married Josephine Owen, who became a lifelong partner in his research and later in his editing and publishing duties. Also during his Cambridge years, Cattell's father helped him to secure a faculty position at the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught for two and a half years. It was during this time that Cattell coined the term "mental testing" to characterize his research (Sokal, 1987). Cattell then moved to Columbia University as head of its psychology department and taught there until his dismissal in 1917, a dismissal nominally caused by an anticonscription piece that he published during the first world war, but almost certainly fueled by long-standing antagonism between Cattell and Columbia's president, Nicholas Murray Butler (Sokal, 1995). Cattell's eminence in his day is clear; in 1901 Cattell was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, although historian Michael M. Sokal suggests that this may have been due more to his resurrection of the journal Science than to his scientific research (Sokal, 1980). Cattell is known to psychologists familiar with the history of psychology in the United States not only for his experimental work on reaction time and mental testing but also as one of the founding figures of the APA in 1892 and as its fourth president (1896). Sokal's numerous publications on Cattell have helped to elucidate his role for general, for Cattell's influence extended far beyond the confines of psychology. Indeed, one scientific contemporary eulogized that Cattell "did more than any other man of his generation to bring about the organization of science in America" (Conklin, 1944, p. 154). Edward L. Thorndike similarly recalled that although Cattell had been "the most likely candidate" at the tum of the century for leadership in psychology, "he chose to become both a leader and a servant, and of American science as a whole rather than of only psychology" (Thorndike, 1944, p. 155). Cattell is best remembered for his lifelong services as an editor and publisher. He edited the first six editions of American Men of Science (now American Men and Women of Science), instituting and maintaining against increasing opposition its system of "starring" the 1,000 most eminent scientists (Sokal, 1995). Among the journals he published and edited were the Psychological Review (with James Mark Baldwin), The American Naturalist, School and Society, Popular Science Monthly, The Scientific Monthly, and his longest and most noteworthy venture, Science. He also helped to found the Archives of Psychology and the Journal of philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods. Cattell maintained an active interest in psychology throughout his life, and was president of the International Congress of Psychology (1929) as well as one of the founding members, in 1921, of the Psychological Corporation, a business designed to promote applied psychology. As Thorndike put it, even while becoming a broader man of science, Cattell "did not cease to be a psychologist . . . . but his leadership was in psychological affairs rather than in psychological thought and experimentation" (Thorndike, 1944). Cattell and Science

Cattell was...
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