James McKeen Cattell

James McKeen Cattell

Infobox Scientist
name = James McKeen Cattell
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caption = James McKeen Cattell
birth_date = May 25, 1860
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death_date = January 20, 1944
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nationality = American
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field = psychologist
work_institutions = University of Pennsylvania
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James McKeen Cattell (May 25, 1860-January 20, 1944), American psychologist, was the first professor of psychology in the United States at the University of Pennsylvania and long-time editor and publisher of scientific journals and publications, most notably the journal "Science".

At the beginning of his career, many scientists regarded psychology at best a minor field of study, or at worst a pseudoscience such as phrenology. Perhaps more than any of his contemporaries, Cattell helped establish psychology as a legitimate science, worthy of study at the highest levels of the academy. At the time of his death, the "New York Times" hailed him as "the dean of American science." Yet Cattell may be best remembered for his uncompromising opposition to American involvement in World War I. His public opposition to the draft led to his dismissal from his position at Columbia University, a move that later led many American universities to establish tenure as a means of protecting unpopular beliefs.

Early life

Born in Easton, Pennsylvania in 1860, Cattell grew up the eldest child of a wealthy and prominent family. His father, William Cassady Cattell, a Presbyterian minister, became president of Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania shortly after James' birth. William Cattell could easily provide for his children, as he had married Elizabeth "Lizzie" McKeen in 1859; together they shared Lizzie's substantial inheritance. To this picture of the family's success one could add political power as well, as James' uncle Alexander Gilmore Cattell represented New Jersey in the United States Senate.

Cattell entered Lafayette College in 1876 at the age of sixteen, and graduated in four years with the highest honors. In 1883 the faculty at Lafayette awarded him an M.A., again with highest honors. Despite his later renown as a scientist, he spent most of his time devouring English literature, although he showed a remarkable gift for mathematics as well.

Cattell did not find his calling until after he arrived in Germany for graduate studies, where he met Wilhelm Wundt at the University of Leipzig. Cattell left Germany in 1882 to study at Johns Hopkins University, but returned to Leipzig the next year as Wundt's assistant. The partnership between the men proved highly productive, as the two helped to establish the formal study of intelligence. Under Wundt, Cattell became the first American to publish a dissertation in the field of psychology, "Psychometric Investigation". More controversially, Cattell tried to explore the interiors of his own mind through the consumption of the then-legal drug hashish. Under the influence of this drug, Cattell once compared the whistling of a schoolboy to a symphony orchestra. While recreational drug use was not uncommon among early psychologists, including Freud, Cattell's experimentation with hashish reflected a willingness to go against conventional opinion and morality.

The main street in the College Hill Neighborhood of Easton, Pennsylvania, home to Lafayette College, is name after Catell.

Academic career

After returning from Germany with his Ph.D., Cattell began a meteoric career in America, with the following highlights: Lecturer in Psychology, Bryn Mawr, 1887; Professor of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, 1888; Department Head of Psychology, Anthropology, and Philosophy, Columbia University, 1891-1905; President of the American Psychological Association, 1895.

From the beginning of his career, Cattell worked hard to establish psychology as a field as worthy of study as any of the "hard" physical sciences, such as chemistry or physics. Indeed, he believed that further investigation would reveal that the intellect itself could be parsed into standard units of measurements. He also brought the methods of Francis Galton back to the United States, establishing the mental testing efforts in the U.S. The money he won from his tenure lawsuit was used to establish The Psychological Corporation, one of the largest mental testing firms in the U.S.


Cattell is well known for his involvement in creating and editing scientific journals. He was so involved in owning and publishing journals, that his research productivity declined. He founded the journal "Psychological Review" in 1894 along with James Mark Baldwin. He also acquired the journal "Science" and, within five years, made it the official publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1895-1900. In 1904, he also founded "Popular Science Monthly", which later became "Popular Science". In 1915 he founded and edited Scientific Monthly.


id = PMID:18348397
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18348397
publication-date=2007 Oct
title=From eugenics to scientometrics: Galton, Cattell, and men of science.
periodical=Social studies of science

id = PMID:15382378
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15382378
first=Eileen M
publication-date=2004 Aug
title=Eminence revisited.
periodical=History of psychology

id = PMID:11624166
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11624166
publication-date=2000 Jan
title=In pursuit of precision: the calibration of minds and machines in late nineteenth-century psychology.
periodical=Annals of science

id = PMID:1556288
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1556288
first=J M
publication-date=1992 Feb
title=Retrospect: psychology as a profession. 1937.
periodical=Journal of consulting and clinical psychology
pages=7-8; discussion 9-15

id = PMID:7025202
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7025202
first=M M
publication-date=1980 Jul 4
title=Science and James McKeen Cattell, 1894 to 1945.

id = PMID:4934276
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4934276
first=M M
publication-date=1971 Jul
title=The unpublished autobiography of James McKeen Cattell.
periodical=The American psychologist

External links

* [http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/author.htm#c James McKeen Cattell bibliography]
* [http://vlp.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/references?id=per310 Short biography, bibliography, and links on digitized sources] in the Virtual Laboratory of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
* [http://www.psych.upenn.edu/history/cattelltext.htm History: Cattell at Penn]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • James McKeen Cattell — (* 25. Mai 1860 in Easton, Pennsylvania, USA; † 20. Januar 1944 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA) war ein amerikanischer Persönlichkeits Psychologe. Er war der erste Professor für Psycholog …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • James McKeen Cattell — Naissance 25 mai 1860 20 janvier 1944 Nationalité Américain Pays de résidence USA …   Wikipédia en Français

  • James McKeen Cattell — James McKeen Cattell. Para otros usos de este término, véase Raymond Cattell. James McKeen Cattell (25 de mayo de 1860 – 20 de enero de 1944) fue un psicólogo norteamericano, el primero en dictar clases de psicología en los …   Wikipedia Español

  • James McKeen Cattell — noun American psychologist and editor (1860 1944) • Syn: ↑Cattell • Instance Hypernyms: ↑psychologist, ↑editor, ↑editor in chief …   Useful english dictionary

  • Cattell, James McKeen — (25 may. 1860, Easton, Pa., EE.UU.–20 ene. 1944, Lancaster, Pa.). Psicólogo estadounidense. Estudió con Wilhelm Wundt, en Leipzig y más tarde fue asistente de Francis Galton en Londres. Fue profesor de la Universidad de Pensilvania (1888–91) y de …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Cattell, James McKeen — born May 25, 1860, Easton, Pa., U.S. died Jan. 20, 1944, Lancaster, Pa. U.S. psychologist. He studied with Wilhelm Wundt in Leipzig and later assisted Francis Galton in London. Teaching at the University of Pennsylvania (1888–91) and Columbia… …   Universalium

  • Кеттелл Джеймс Мак-Кин / Cattell, James McKeen — (1860 1944). Предметом исследований Д. Кеттелла были индивидуальные различия. Его работа стала вкладом в ту практическую и прикладную психологию, которая была функциональной и исключительно американской по духу …   Психологическая энциклопедия

  • James Mark Baldwin — (Columbia, South Carolina, 1861–1934) was an American philosopher and psychologist who was educated at Princeton under the supervision of Scottish philosopher James McCosh and who was one of the founders of the Department of Psychology at the… …   Wikipedia

  • Cattell — noun 1. American psychologist (born in England) who developed a broad theory of human behavior based on multivariate research (1905 1998) • Syn: ↑Ray Cattell, ↑R. B. Cattell, ↑Raymond B. Cattell, ↑Raymond Bernard Cattell • Instance Hypernyms:… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Cattell — Den Namen Cattell tragen folgende Personen: Alexander G. Cattell (1816–1894), US amerikanischer Politiker Alfred Cattell (1857–1933), walisischer Rugbyspieler James McKeen Cattell (1860–1944), US amerikanischer Persönlichkeits Psychologe Raymond… …   Deutsch Wikipedia