Stephenson Archive Moved to the Center for the History of Psychology (CHP) at U Akron

The content of William Stephenson’s study, including various books and artifacts, have now been moved to the Drs. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology (CCHP) at The University of Akron, OH, where they are awaiting processing.

The CCHP began as an America-only enterprise largely funded through grants, but it has since widened its scope to include more international materials.  The Center has been most enthusiastic about Stephenson materials, and following its $3.5m renovation (probably in the autumn) there should be a sizable Stephenson presence there.  The vacating of the Stephenson study marked the end of an 80-year era that was followed by the sale of the Stephenson home and the passing of Mariel (February 29), who had been living there since her father’s death (1989) and taking care of Mrs. Stephenson until her death in 2001.

Some impressions from the move:

 

Q Methodology’s 75th Birthday

On June 28, 1935, William Stephenson penned the following letter to the Editor of the British science journal Nature, thus initiating the development that has come to be known as Q methodology. The letter eventually appeared in the 24 August 1935 issue of Nature (p. 297).

Technique of Factor Analysis

Factor analysis is a subject upon which Prof. G. H. Thomson, Dr. Wm. Brown and others have frequently written letters to Nature. This analysis is concerned with a selected population of n individuals each of whom has been measured in m tests. The (m)(m-1)/2 intercorrelations for these m variables are subjected to either a Spearman or other factor analysis.

The technique, however, can also be inverted. We begin with a population of n different tests (or essays, pictures, traits or other measurable material), each of which is measured or scaled by m individuals. The (m)(m-1)/2 intercorrelations are then factorised in the usual way.

This inversion has interesting practical applications. It brings the factor technique from group and field work into the laboratory, and reaches into spheres of work hitherto untouched or not amendable to factorisation. It is especially valuable in experimental aesthetics and in educational psychology, no less than in pure psychology.

It allows a completely new series of studies to be made on the Spearman ‘central intellective factor’ (g), and also allows tests to be made of the Two Factor Theorem under greatly improved experimental conditions. Data on these and other points are to be published in due course in the British Journal of Psychology.

W. Stephenson Psychological Laboratory, University College, Gower Street, London, W.C.1. June 28.

The famous letter to Nature, 71 years ago

On 24 August 1935 – 71 years ago today – the British science journal Nature published William Stephenson’s letter to the Editor, thereby launching what is now referred to as Q methodology. The published version of the letter, which appears on p. 297 and carries the date of June 28, reads as follows: Technique of Factor Analysis Factor analysis is a subject upon which Prof. G. H. Thomson, Dr. Wm. Brown and others have frequently written letters to Nature. This analysis is concerned with a selected population of n individuals each of whom has been measured in m tests. The (m)(m-1)/2 intercorrelations for these m variables are subjected to either a Spearman or other factor analysis. The technique, however, can also be inverted. We begin with a population of n different tests (or essays, pictures, traits or other measurable material), each of which is measured or scaled by m individuals. The (m)(m-1)/2 intercorrelations are then factorised in the usual way. This inversion has interesting practical applications. It brings the factor technique from group and field work into the laboratory, and reaches into spheres of work hitherto untouched or not amendable to factorisation. It is especially valuable in experimental aesthetics and in educational psychology, no less than in pure psychology. It allows a completely new series of studies to be made on the Spearman ‘central intellective factor’ (g), and also allows tests to be made of the Two Factor Theorem under greatly improved experimental conditions. Data on these and other points are to be published in due course in the British Journal of Psychology. W. Stephenson Psychological Laboratory, University College, Gower Street, London, W.C.1. June 28.