Introduction: The need for contextual approaches to the history of mental testing

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Abstract

Much has been published on Binet and the history of intelligence testing. The effort to locate the origin and follow the historical development of mental tests comes as no surprise, given the success the technique enjoyed throughout the 20th century. It is a controversial, yet also essential, professional tool that characterizes the work of the psychologist in contemporary society. Why write more on this subject? I will argue that although we have a great number of publications at our disposal, new contributions are needed to reinterpret this crucial episode in the history of psychology from different angles. Although unable to cover the huge number of publications, I will first comment briefly on some contributions that marked historical research in the second half of the 20th century. In doing so, I will focus on works that aim to explain the origin and historical development of mental testing. I will thereby leave aside the debate regarding the reliability of some empirical data gathered by certain psychologists and the social consequences of intelligence testing. I will then move on to evaluate the status quo by considering Carson's (2007) ambitious research and the historiographical idea guiding this monographic issue. © 2014 American Psychological Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-186
JournalHistory of Psychology
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

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