Alfred Binet

A French psychologist, founder of the field of experimental psychology, and one of the pioneers of intelligence testing.

Alfred Binet was born in Nice, France, in 1857. After studying both law and medicine in Paris, he earned a doctorate in natural science. Binet's training in psychology, focused mainly on abnormal psychology with an emphasis on the study of hysteria, was received primarily informally at Jean-Martin Charcot's neurological clinic at the Salpêtrière Hospital. He published a book on hypnosis (Le magnetisme animal, with C. S. Fere in 1886) and suggestibility (La suggestibilite, 1900). He was a prolific writer, extensively publishing scholarly articles on emotion, memory, and problemsolving, in addition to his other works.

Alfred Binet, a French psychologist who invented the first practical intelligence test, the Binet-Simon scale.

Alfred Binet, a French psychologist who invented the first practical intelligence test, the Binet-Simon scale.
(© Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

From 1895 until his death in 1911, Binet served as director of France's first psychological laboratory at the Sorbonne of the University of Paris. Also in 1895, he established the journal L'Anne´e psychologique.

Throughout his career, Binet was interested in both the psychology of individual differences and the quantification of intelligence. In 1899, he set up a special laboratory in which he devised a series of tests that he used to evaluate the intellectual development of his two daughters. His 1903 book, L'E´tude experimentale de l'intelligence, was based on his studies of them.

In 1916, American psychologist Lewis Terman (1877–1956) used the 1908 Binet-Simon scale as the foundation for the development of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, the most enduring and extensively researched intelligence test in the United States.

Toward the end of his life, Binet co-authored Les enfants anormaux (Abnormal Children, 1907) with Simon and published Les idées modernes sur les enfants (Modern Ideas on Children) in 1909. He died in Paris in 1911.

See also Developmental psychology; Intellectual disability ; Intelligence quotient (IQ) ; Mental age .



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