ERIC Number: ED209999
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Aug-25
Reference Count: 0
Early Psychological Studies of "Genius" and Academic Quality Rankings.
Webster, David Steven
Early psychological studies of "genius" are examined, and reasons why European studies of eminent people never developed into true academic quality rankings are considered. In Europe, and especially England, France, and Germany, the ecological origins of eminent men and women were assessed: where they grew up, where they attended school, and whether and where they attended a university. Most of those who wrote about the university backgrounds of eminent people attributed geniuses to be the product of either heredity or their environment. Alick Maclean's rank ordering of universities in England, Scotland, and Ireland that had "produced" distinguished people came close to being a true academic quality ranking. Academic quality rankings developed in the United States and were a useful means of recording the outcome of competition of universities for students and financial support. Universities in France and Germany were assured a steady source of income by the government whether or not they excelled relative to others, and in each European nation there were relatively few universities. In Europe there was not nearly as much range in the quality of universities, while in the United States there is diversity in curricular offerings and types of institutions. Additionally, European countries were much smaller geographically than the United States and European universities were much older and had established reputations regarding quality. The existence of national licensing examinations in each discipline in European countries and the fact that European students commonly attended several universities were additional reasons why rank orders of universities were not greatly needed in Europe. (SW)
Descriptors: Biographies, Comparative Analysis, Comparative Education, Educational Background, Educational Quality, Gifted, Higher Education, Individual Characteristics, Institutional Characteristics, Nature Nurture Controversy, Profiles, Psychological Studies, Rating Scales, Reputation, Talent, Universities
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Historical Materials
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Europe; United States
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association (89th, Los Angeles, CA, August 25, 1981).