Terman’s Study of Genius

In Terman’s day, it was widely believed that very bright children were abnormal in more than a statistical sense. One common expression describing such children was “early ripe, early rot,” suggesting that if ability developed too fast at an early age, not enough would remain for the later years. To objectively study the experi- ence of bright children through the years, Terman ran one of the most famous studies in psychology’s history. By identifying highly intelligent children and observing them over a long period of time,

Terman’s Position on Inheritance. Throughout his career, Terman believed that intelligence was largely inherited. Furthermore, Terman, like God- dard, believed that low intelligence was the cause of most criminal and other forms of antisocial behav- ior. For Terman (1916), a stupid person could not be a moral person:

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Not all criminals are feeble-minded, but all feeble-minded persons are at least poten- tial criminals. That every feeble-minded woman is a potential prostitute would hardly be disputed by anyone. Moral judgment, like business judgment, social judgment, or any other kind of higher thought process, is a function of intelli- gence. Morality cannot flower and fruit if intelligence remains infantile.

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