Charles Edward Spearman's Contribution to Psychology and Philosophy

Topics: Intelligence, General intelligence factor, Intelligence quotient Pages: 8 (2621 words) Published: April 19, 2013
Charles Spearman
Born: September 10, 1863
Died: September 17, 1945
Charles Edward Spearman was born in London and lived a full 82 years until his death in 1945. During those years Charles Spearman became one of the most influential figures that the field of psychology had seen. Despite his genuine interest however, he began not in psychology, but in philosophy. However, Spearman soon learned that he was not impressed by what philosophy had to offer him or by his own works in the faculty, it was for that reason that he had decided to join the army. Spearman and the Army

     Spearman was not the type of person that enjoyed the military, yet he spent almost a quarter of his life in the British Army. This had been much longer than he had intended, however his reasoning was that he had wanted to take a job in which he could spend more time in his studies.      During the Burmese War, Spearman received a medal and two clasps for his duties, but more importantly it was during this time that he discovered that, for him, the solutions to life's problems were in psychology.       This, however, was not the end of the military service for Spearman. On two other occasions he responded to the army's needs. First as Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General in Guernsey during the Boer War and again, during World War I, serving on the general staff of Tyne defences. It was after the first World War that his fame began to spread. Educational and Professional Background

     Spearman was educated in Germany. He completed his Ph.D. under Wilhelm Wundt, but was also influenced during his studies by the works of Francis Galton and his case for the importance of intelligence testing. After studying at Leipzig, Wurzburg and Gottingen, Charles Spearman received his doctorate from Leipzig in 1904. With degree in hand, Spearman's professional career soared as he crossed the English Channel. In 1907, at University College; London, he took over the department of experimental psychology only to become Grote Professor of Mind and Logic in 1911. He continued to work at University College until 1931 when he then retired and became Emeritus Professor. Playing an active role in psychology, Spearman began to spend more and more time in North America teaching at Colombia University, the Catholic University of America and in Chicago where he played a crucial role in the designing of an experiment on "unitary differential traits." Spearman's work also took him to places such as Egypt where he pursued his teaching at the University of Cairo.      With a strong statistical background, Spearman set out to estimate the intelligence of twenty-four children in the village school. In the course of his study, he realized that any empirically observed correlation between two variables will underestimate the "true" degree of relationship, to the extent that there is inaccuracy or unreliability in the measurement of those two variables. Further, if the amount of unreliability is precisely known, it is possible to "correct" the attenuated observed correlation according to the formula (where r stands for the correlation coefficient): r (true) = r (observed)  * sq. root of (reliability of variable 1 * reliability of variable 2). Using his correction formula, Spearman found "perfect" relationships and inferred that "General Intelligence" or "g" was in fact something real, and not merely an arbitrary mathematical abstraction. He then discovered yet another marvelous coincidence, the correlations were positive and hierarchal. These discoveries lead Spearman to the eventual development of a two-factor theory of intelligence.      According to the two-factor theory of intelligence, the performance of any intellectual act requires some combination of "g", which is available to the same individual to the same degree for all intellectual acts, and of "specific factors" or "s" which are specific to that act and which varies in strength from one act to another. If one knows...
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