June Etta Downey and the Individual Will-Temperament Test

June Etta Downey

June Etta Downey

On July 13, 1875, American psychologist June Etta Downey was born. Downey is best known for having developed the Individual Will-Temperament Test, which was one of the first tests to evaluate character traits separately from intellectual capacity and the first to use psychographic methods for interpretation.

June Etta Downey attended the University of Wyoming and graduated in 1895 with the degree in Greek and Latin. At the University of Chicago, Downey earned her master’s degree in 1898. There, she also published her first article, A Musical Experiment, in the American Journal of Psychology before finishing her degree.

After graduating, Downey returned to the University of Wyoming as an instructor of English and Philosophy, and studied at Cornell University under Edward B. Titchener, himself a student of Wundt, and an important figure in early experimental psychology in America. In 1905, June Etta Downey was appointed Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wyoming, and returned to the University of Chicago to earn her doctoral degree. Downey’s dissertation was titled Control Processes in Modified Handwriting: An Experimental Study and in it, the researcher theorized that handwriting gave clues to an individual’s temperament and personality. In 1915, June Etta Downey was appointed head of the Department of Psychology and Philosophy.

Downey’s scientific contributions covered a large area, however, the probably most important work was achieved in the field of experimental personality studies. Much of Downey’s work revolved around her believe that a strong mind-body connection exists and she managed to identify motor processes as a mthod to express character traits.

Her work on personality traits led Downey to the development of the Downey Individual Will-Temperament Test in 1919. In the test, personality was researched mainly through handwriting analysis and some sort of muscle reading. The test consisted of 10 subsets that when combined could be calculated into a total score that represented one’s “will-capacity”. The Downey Individual Will-Temperament Test was arranged to represent three personality types. The three personality types are hairtrigger, which is impulsive and quick, the witful type, succinct and decisive, and the accurate type, which is slow and thoughtfulscored. The Will-Temperament Test was the first known test to evaluate character traits separately from intellectual capacity and the first known test to use psychographic methods in its interpretation.

At yovisto you can lean more about Personality and the Brain in a lecture by Professor Glen Wilson at Gresham College.

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