The American psychologist and editor James Cattell was a pioneer in American psychology, James McKeen Cattell Study on Psychology who influenced the profession to use objective methods of study and to apply psychology to practical aspects of life. He was born in 1860 in Easton, Pennsylvania. He was educated by a private tutor in his home. Cattel’s father was a professor of ancient languages, later he became the president of the college.
Cattell joined college officially when he was 20 years old and got his undergraduate degree. Cattell held the first professorship in psychology in 1888 at the University of Pennsylvania. He made his greatest contributions to the field of psychology when he was professor at Columbia University.
Thorndike was his student at Columbia University. He researched reading and perception, psychophysics, individual differences and individual’s reaction times to various stimuli. Moreover, Cattell said that scientific findings should be utilized in practical ways. He revolutionized some educational practices such as methods of teaching reading and spelling. He was also one of the founders of the American Psychological Association and of several other scientific societies. He launched and published several scientific journals including Psychological Review, Science, Scientific Monthly, School and Society and The American Naturalist. He also prepared and published the first editions of American Men of Science and Leaders in Education.
He studied reaction times of two subjects under different conditions (e.g. attention, practice, fatigue). Cattell also devised his own tests to measure mental abilities of his students. They include:
1. Pressure causing pain
2. Sensation areas (minimum distance between two points on the skin where the person senses two points)
3. Rate of movement
4. Least noticeable difference in weight
5. Reaction time for sound
6. Number of letters repeated on one hearing etc.