Life (Psychology and Mental Health)
Alfred Binet is renowned for his contributions in the field of intelligence testing even though he had no formal education in psychology. After studying law and medicine, Binet gravitated to the discipline when he began reading psychological articles at Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. He worked for six years at Salpêtrière Hospital and published papers on a variety of topics such as consciousness and hypnosis. However, he left Salpêtrière in near disgrace after his reports that magnetism could produce physical effects on hypnotized patients were shown to be the result of suggestion.
In the absence of a professional position, Binet spent nearly a year intensively studying his two young daughters. He published papers highlighting age-related performance differences between the girls. These observations, very similar to the later ones made by Jean Piaget, laid the foundation for Binet’s notions concerning intelligence assessment.
In 1903, the French Ministry of Public Instruction (FMPI) appointed Binet to a committee that was charged with the task of developing a method to distinguish children ready for first-grade instruction from their subnormal age mates, who needed special classes. Working with his assistant Théodore Simon, Binet developed a series of tasks that could be used to assess a child’s intellectual development. Binet reasoned that the age at which a child can perform a task could be used as a measure of...
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Sources for Further Study (Psychology and Mental Health)
Fancher, Raymond E. “Alfred Binet, General Psychologist.” In Portraits of Pioneers in Psychology, edited by Gregory A. Kimble and Michael Wertheimer. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 1998. A succinct summary of Binet’s life and contributions that argues his work has been underappreciated.
Hothersall, David. History of Psychology. 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004. A general work that provides many details of Binet’s work with hypnotism.
Wolf, Theta H. Alfred Binet. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973. A detailed account of the breadth of Binet’s contributions to psychology.
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Alfred Binet (Encyclopedia of Psychology)
French psychologist and founder of experimental psychology in France and a pioneer in intelligence testing.
Alfred Binet was born in Nice, France, in 1857. After studying both law and medicine in Paris, he earned a doctorate in natural science. Binet's psychological trainingostly at Jean-Martin Charcot's neurological clinic at the Salpetriere Hospitalas in the area of abnormal psychology, particularly hysteria, and he published books on hypnosis (Le magnetisme animal, with C.S. Fere in 1886) and suggestibility (La suggestibilite, 1900). From 1895 until his death in 1911, Binet served as director of France's first psychological laboratory at the Sorbonne of the University of Paris. Also in 1895, he established the journal L'Annee psychologique. Binet had been interested in the psychology ofnd individual differences inintelligence since the 1880s and published articles on emotion, memory, attention, and problem solving. In 1899 he set up a special laboratory
where he devised a series of tests which he used to evaluate the intellectual development of his two daughters. His 1903 book, L'Etude...
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Binet, Alfred (Psychologists and Their Theories)
FRENCH PSYCHOLOGIST, INTELLIGENCE RESEARCHER
SORBONNE, DOCTORATE IN NATURAL SCIENCE, 1894
Alfred Binet is best remembered as the developer of the first useful test for measuring intelligence. Along with Théodore Simon, Binet developed the Binet-Simon Scale, the forerunner of modern IQ tests. Binet's original goal for the scale was relatively modest and very practical. In the early years of the 1900s, the French government had just enacted laws requiring that all children be given a public education. For the first time, mentally "subnormal" childrenhose who today might be called mentally retarded or developmentally disabledere to be provided with special classes, rather than simply ignored by the schools. However, this raised the issue of how to identify which children would benefit from special programs. Binet and Simon set out to solve this problem. In the process, they developed a revolutionary approach to testing mental abilities.
Yet intelligence testing was only one small part of Binet's highly productive career. Although his work was cut short when he died at age 54, he still managed to author almost 300 published books, articles, and reviews. His wide-ranging interests included sensitivity to touch, mental associations, hypnosis, child development, personality, memory, eyewitness testimony,...
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