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Alfred Binet

Alfred Binet was a French Psychologist who was born in Nice on July 8, 1857. His father was a physician and his mother was an artist. Before becoming involved in the testing of cognitive abilities graduated from the Lycee Louis-le-Grand and soon became a lawyer. Binet’s father wanted him to become involved in the medical field, but Alfred decided not to. While Binet was young he wasn’t extraordinarily brilliant, but he still had the willingness to work as hard as possible.
Due to the wealth of the Binet family, it wasn’t important for him to study law and therefore he begun reading about psychology during his free time. After publishing his first psychology article, Binet begun working with hypnosis in the Salpetriere Hospital in Paris. Eventually in 1884 Binet married the daughter of a French embryologist and had two daughters.. Even before making the decision to become involved in the testing, Alfred Binet was already researching cognitive processes with his daughters. Because of his observations of his two daughters and their differences, Binet was able to conclude that there had to be several different categories of intelligence.
In 1904 Binet was appointed as a member of the French professional group for child psychology. It was the responsibility of this commission to be able to differentiate the intelligence of those children who were normal and those who needed special care. At this time Binet and his colleague psychiatrist Theodore Simon were able to develop the Binet-Simon intelligence scale. Binet and Simon didn’t want their test to be used as an intelligence test, but to actually be used to classify individuals as normal or needing special help. Before the Binet-Simon intelligence scale special children were categorized into three sections: morons (mildest), imbeciles (moderate) and idiots (most severely deficient).

The Binet-Simon intelligence scale, which was finally created in 1905, contained problems in an order of increasing difficulty. These items included vocabulary, memory, common knowledge and other cognitive abilities. Binet tests were accepted widely around the world with the exception of France, which basically rejected the test. In In 1908 Binet and Simon revised the test and for each test item, Binet decided whether an average child would be able to get the question right. Thus he was able to differentiate between the chronological age and the mental age of a child. A child’s mental age was determined by estimating a child’s intelligence through comparison with the scores of average children of the same age. 1911 Binet and Simon were able to release there last publication of the test, which still wan’t accepted in France. Binet continued to work on the revision of his intelligence test until his death in Paris on October 18, 1911. After Binet’s death, Lewis Terman and his colleagues advanced on Binet’s research and used the intelligence quotient as a method of computing someone’s final score of the Binet-Simon test.

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As you can see if it wasn’t for Alfred Binet we wouldn’t have Intelligence quotients (IQ) tests the way they are today. While they aren’t exactly perfect, because there is still biasness, it is still a basic framework of human cognitive ability. Possibly Binet’s most important accomplishment was getting other psychologists interested in the normal human mind and what it’s capable of. Other psychologists during that time-period were far more interested in the mind of the mentally handicapped and brain sizes.
Although Binet’s tests were very groundbreaking, I am still not convinced that intelligence is something that can be measured by a single test. I am in support of the theory that to measure someone’s intelligence they should be monitored during their normal activities to view how they respond to certain stimuli. This is due to the fact that there are several factors, which have the ability to influence how a person will do on a test. Whether it be biasness in the test itself, or maybe even external distractions that can occur during test-taking. I do, however support his belief that people can be intelligent in several diffeent ways, not just in the ways that can be seen during tests.

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