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Timeline of Psychometrics

Timeline of Psychometrics

Credit: NLE/TTE

In the following post, we survey some key milestones in the field of psychometrics.

  • In the late 1800s, Francis Galton introduced the concept of using intelligence tests as a means of measuring a person's mental aptitude. 
  • In 1890, James Cattel, who had trained under Wilhelm Wundt, the father of experimental psychology, at the University of Leipzig, introduced the concept of psychological testing.
  • In the early 20th century, psychometric testing began to be used more widely in a variety of settings, including education, employment, and the military. 
  • Galton's protégé, Karl Pearson, continued this work between 1893 and 1904, developing several key statistical concepts such as the correlation coefficient, chi-squared test, standard deviation, and regression.
  • In 1904, Charles Spearman develops the method of factor analysis, the workhorse of modern psychological techniques.
  • In 1905, Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon create a measurement instrument to identify children with mental retardation.
  • In the period 1908-1911, Binet publishes versions of the first IQ test, commonly known as the Simon-Binet test.
  • In 1919, the Woodworth Psychoneurotic Inventory to assess susceptibility to psychoneurosis was published.
  • Hermann Rorschach creates the inkblot test in 1921.
  • The Draw-a-person test was developed originally by Florence Goodenough in 1926. This test was first known as the Goodenough Draw-a-Man test.
  • Thematic apperception test (TAT) is a projective psychological test developed during the 1930s by Henry A. Murray and Christiana D. Morgan at Harvard University. 
  • In 1935, prominent Psychometricians LL Thurstone, EL Thorndike, and J.P. Guilford founded Psychometrika, the flagship journal of Psychometrics.
  • In 1936, Harold Hotelling, publishes the classic paper on Principal components analysis in Psychometrika. 
  • In 1936,  L. L. Thurstone founder of the Psychometric Society, formulates the law of comparative judgment based on the earlier work of German psychophysicists Ernst Weber and Gustav Fechner. 
  • In 1937, Gordon Allport (1897-1967), in his work Personality: a Psychological Interpretation, introduced a theoretical model of personality traits. 
  • In 1938, Henry Murray (1893-1988) published Explorations in Personality, a reference 
  • work in which he very precisely defines an exhaustive list of personality traits
  • The Bender-Gestalt test was originally developed in 1938 by child psychiatrist Lauretta Bender.
  • In1942, Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers created the first version of the famous Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. 
  • The original Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) was developed by Starke R. Hathaway and J. C. McKinley, faculty of the University of Minnesota, and first published by the University of Minnesota Press in 1943.
  • The House-Tree-Person (HTP) test, one of the most widely-used projective drawing tests, was proposed by Buck in 1948 
  • In 1949, the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) was developed by the Romanian-American psychologist David Wechsler.
  • The 1950s saw the development of the Item Response theory (IRT) by researchers including Frederic M. Lord, Georg Rasch, and Paul Lazarsfeld.
  • The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) is an IQ test designed to measure intelligence and cognitive ability in adults and older adolescents published in 1955 by David Wechsler.
  • In 1964, J. B. Kruskal introduces the technique of multi-dimensional scaling (MDS).
  • In 1960, Dorothy Adkins, the first female president of the Psychometric Society wrote her well-known book Test Construction: Development and Interpretation of Achievement.
  • The Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) was developed in 1966 by Ellis Paul Torrance.
  • Publication of J.P Guilford's Nature of Human Intelligence by American psychometrician in 1967 which included a three-dimensional taxonomy of 120 elements. 
  • Designed by J.P. Guilford in 1967, the Alternative Uses Test asks you to think of as many uses as possible for a simple object, like a brick or a shoe, or a paperclip.
  • The 1980s saw further development of techniques such as Structural Equation modeling Karl Joreskog at Uppsala University
  • The 1980s saw the development of the Big-5 personality taxonomy consisting of openness to experience (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious) conscientiousness (efficient/organized vs. extravagant/careless) extraversion (outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved) agreeableness (friendly/compassionate vs. critical/rational) neuroticism (sensitive/nervous vs. resilient/confident)
  • In the 2000s, UCLA Professor Judea Pearl develops a theory of causality building on Structural Equation Modelling techniques and pioneers the use of Directed Acyclical Graphs (DAGs) in causal modeling.
  • In 2014, the American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, and National Council on Measurement in Education publish a revision of the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing