Alfred Binet was a French psychologist who, along with Theodore Simon, developed the first intelligence test. Binet was influenced by the writings of John Stuart Mill on intelligence and by the mental and physical growth of his two daughters. During his lifetime, Alfred Binet wrote several hundred articles and books that ultimately shaped psychology as he defined his conception of intelligence by emphasizing attention span and intellectual development for tests of thematic apperception.
While employed at the Sorbonne’s Laboratory of Experimental Psychology, Binet began his collaboration with Simon that led to their study and identification of mentally challenged children. The Binet-Simon Scale was developed to measure intelligence by asking children to complete thirty tasks, which correlated to what an observed child should normally be able to accomplish at consecutive numerical ages, with each level having increased difficulty. Binet believed that both qualitative and quantitative measures should be used in the development of intelligence testing to advocate the education of children.
He argued that intelligence develops at a variety of rates and is influenced by both environment and genetics. Lewis Terman expanded on the Binet-Simon Scale by creating the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test to measure IQ.
Binet wrote in French, but his works have contemporary English translations. His most notable works include La Psychologie du Raisonnement (1886), Études de Psychologie Éxperimentale (1888), Introduction à la Psychologie Éxperimentale (1894), Les Idêes sur les Énfants (1900), Étude Éxperimentale de l’intelligence (1905), and Les Énfants Anormaux (1907).
- Binet, A. (1980). The development of intelligence in children. Nashville, TN: Williams.
- Palmer, J. (Ed.). (2001). Fifty major thinkers in education. London: Routledge.
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