Dr. James McKeen Cattell

  • Research & Lecturer in Experimental Psychology, St. John’s College, Cambridge
  • Professor of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, 1888
  • Department Head of Psychology, Columbia University, 1891-1905
  • President of the American Psychological Association, 1895

James McKeen Cattell is an important figure in psychology and the study of human intelligence for several reasons. While at Leipzig, working under Wundt, he was the first American to publish a dissertation, Psychometric Investigation. After his return from Europe, perhaps no other person contributed more to the strengthening of American psychology in the late 1890s and early 1900s.  He was involved with the formation of many major publications, including co-founder and co-editor of the Psychological Review (1894-1903), editor and publisher of the Journal of Science (1894-1944), founder of the Psychological Corporation (1921), and founder of the Science Press (1923), among many others. He was similarly involved with major professional organizations, including the American Psychological Association, The American Association of University Professors, and The American Association for the Advancement of Science.

One of Cattell’s goals was to have psychology viewed as a science on par with the physical and life sciences. Cattell believed that the continued growth of psychology was dependent on the field’s acceptance of quantitative methods similar to those used in other sciences.

Cattell’s use of statistical methods and quantification of data helped in the development of American psychology as an experimental science. He was one of the first psychologists in America to stress the importance of quantification, ranking, and ratings. An outgrowth of this work, his experimentation with psychophysical testing, was influential in the popularization of mental testing within the psychological laboratory.

Major Publications

  • Mental tests and measurements. Mind, (1980) 15, 373-380
  • Measurements of accuracy of recollection. Science (1895).
  • Statistics of American psychologists. American Journal of Psychology (1903).
  • Psychology in America. Science (1929).
  • Physical and mental tests. Psychological Review. (1898).