Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Lancaster, Lancaster County
Psyche Cattell is best known for her development of an infant intelligence test similar to the popular Stanford-Binet test, but used for very young children.
Psyche Cattell's majorly contributed to the psychology field. Prior to entering the field, she received a doctoral degree in education from Harvard University. The research she conducted in mental testing while at Harvard University led to the creation of the Cattell Intelligence Test, her most notable work. She moved to Pennsylvania in 1939, where she became employed as a psychologist at the Lancaster Guidance Clinic and the Lebanon County Mental Health Clinic. In 1940, she published Measurement of Intelligence of Infants and Young Children, a work that outlined the test she created while employed by Harvard. She opened her own practice, began a daycare, published a second book, and wrote columns for various journals.
Psyche Cattell was born on August 2, 1893, in Garrison, New York. Her father, James McKeen Cattell, played a prominent role in the field of psychology. Little is known of her mother Josephine Owen Cattell. Cattell and her six siblings were raised in a home along the Hudson River. They benefited from their father's employment at Columbia University, which enabled them to hire highly educated personal tutors. Psyche Cattell struggled with reading as a child. While never diagnosed, she suffered from symptoms of dyslexia. As a result, she had to work harder to succeed.
Without her father's support, she enrolled at the Sargent School for Physical Training in Boston, Massachusetts. In order to support her education financially, she began working as a research assistant for the university. On the side, she attended various psychology courses at Stanford, New York, and Columbia universities. She also took classes at the New School for Social Research. In 1925, she received two Masters Degrees simultaneously, one from Cornell and the other from Harvard. While in graduate school, she continued working as a research assistant for Harvard University in the field of mental testing. In 1927, she received a Doctorate of Education from Harvard University, making her the first woman to earn an Ed.D.
Cattell's career in psychology was influenced by a number of factors. Her father's work in the field established her curiosity at a very young age. She grew up raising animals used in her father's studies. While she graduated with a doctorate in education, the psychology classes she took on the side were what really sparked her interest. In 1932, she entered the field of mental testing through her work for Harvard University's School of Public Health. She was employed as a Research Fellow and worked on a child focused study that took into account environmental and biological factors in development. It became clear during her time there that the Stanford-Binet test administered to children did not appropriately assess infants and toddlers. Cattell was given the responsibility of developing a test that would sufficiently evaluate children's mental and intellectual capacities within this age range. She utilized a number of available resources, including the Stanford-Binet, the Gesell Developmental Studies, and the ongoing studies at Harvard.
Cattell created what became known as the Cattell Intelligence Test. The test assessed children from two to 30 months using a number of items, many of which were common in the household. Unlike most psychological examinations that are replaced over time, Cattell's intelligence test remains in use today. Cattell's work for Harvard ended in 1936. During that time period she adopted two children as a single mother, son Hudson and daughter Jowain. In 1939, Cattell relocated to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where her brother had been living. She took up a position as a Chief Psychologist at the Lancaster Guidance Clinic, and she there until 1963. There, she dedicated a portion of her time to writing magazine articles on topics such as childhood eating problems and discipline. She also established a private practice. Additionally, she held a position as a psychologist for the Lebanon County Mental Health Clinic. In 1940, she published a book entitled The Measurement of Intelligence Test of Infants and Young Children, which defined the test she developed while at Harvard in detail.
In 1941, she put her knowledge of childhood intelligence into practice. She opened The West End School, a daycare for children that focused on developing intelligence in the earliest stages of life. With little community support, Cattell opened her business. In the following years the school grew to average forty students and eventually employed nine individuals. At the height of its success, Cattell changed the name of the school to Dr. Cattell's School due to the community's insistence. She finally closed the door to her business on her 80th birthday.
Cattell's writing contributions continued long into her career. In 1964, she wrote a twice-weekly column for the Lancaster New Era in which she addressed parental concerns. In 1972, she published another book, Raising Children with Love and Limits. She used her knowledge as a psychologist and her experience interacting with children to create solutions for families with common childhood problems.
Psyche Cattell's contributions to the field of psychology are significant. She dedicated her time to the advancement of childhood intelligence and family interactions. In 1987, a stroke left her unable to live independently. She moved to the Moravian Manor, a home for the elderly. On April 17, 1989, she died in Lititz, Pennsylvania.
Cattell Intelligence Test
The Measurement of Intelligence in Infants and Young Children. New York: Psychological Corporation, 1940.
Raising Children with Love and Limits. Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1972.