Lewis Terman and the Intelligence Quotient

Lewis Madison Terman (1877 – 1956)

Lewis Madison Terman (1877 – 1956)

On January 15, 1877, American psychologist Lewis Madison Terman was born. He is best known for his pioneering work in individual intelligence tests as well as for his revision of the Stanford-Binet IQ test, with which he introduced the IQ (Intelligence Quotient), being a ratio of chronological age to mental age times 100.

Lewis Terman was raised on a farm became a school teacher as well as high school principal in his early career. Terman received his doctorate in psychology from Clark University in 1905. He joined the education faculty in psychology at Stanford University five years later and became the head of Stanford’s Psychology Department in the 1920s.

In his research, Terman focused on mental testing while revising Alfred Binet’s scale of intelligence [3]. It was published in 1916 as the famous ‘Stanford-Binet’ scale of intelligence. One of the main innovations of the test was the inclusion of the Intelligence Quotient, which had not been used in mental tests before. The scale became the most widely used individually administered intelligence scale. When the government intended to develop intelligence tests for the army, Terman played a keyrole and the Stanford-Binet scale was considered the foundation for these tests. Also, Terman helped to develop ‘National Intelligence Tests’ for children aged three to eight. The tests were ready for use in the 1920s, and Terman then helped to establish intelligence tests in schools so that students could be classified into homogeneous ability groups, in what became termed a tracking system. Further, Terman became a leader in the development of group achievement tests, which assessed school learning.

At yovisto, you may be interested in a video on Intelligence as part of the lecture series ‘Introduction to Psychology’ by Professor William Knapp.

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