Charles Spearman

After a career in the English army that lasted until he was 34, Charles Spearman (1863–1945) turned to psychology, studying with both Wundt and Külpe in Germany. Taking a break in his studies with Wundt, Spearman returned to England to serve in the Boer War (1899–1902). Reading Galton thor- oughly impressed Spearman, and he performed a number of experiments on village schoolchildren, with results tending to confirm Galton’s belief con- cerning the relationship between sensory acuity and intelligence.

Spearman found that not only did measures of sensory acuity correlate highly among them- selves but, more important, they also correlated highly (+.38) with “cleverness in school.” In 1904 he published his results in an article titled “‘Gen- eral Intelligence,’ Objectively Determined and Measured.” In part because of this article, Spearman was offered a position at the University of London, replacing William McDougall  as director of the psychology laboratory.

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In order to more thoroughly investigate the nature of intelligence, Spearman laid the ground- work for what became factor analysis. Factor analysis is a complex statistical technique based on correlation. The technique begins by measuring either an individual or a group of individuals in a variety of ways. Next, all the measures are intercor- related to determine which of them vary together in some systematic way. It is assumed that measures (for example, tests) that vary together (that is, are correlated) are measuring the same thing. The final step is to examine the matrix of correlations to determine which measures vary together and how many factors (influences) need to be postulated to account for the intercorrelations observed.

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