Terman (1877-1956) was a prominent American Psychologist famous for his research on intelligence and his eugenic beliefs. Terman received his PhD in 1905 from Clarke University and in 1910 joined Stanford University.
Terman was heavily involved with the testing of recruits for the First World War and the administration of Army Alpha and Army Beta tests. Based on this experience, he developed the Alfred Binet’s intelligence test which was first published in 1916. The fifth version of the test is still in use today. However unlike Binet, Terman promoted the use of testing in Schools to ensure pupils entered occupations and training relevant to their ability. He believed that intelligence was strictly inherited, therefore a clear indicator of achievement. Terman’s eugenic beliefs in the ability of children is now considered to be highly racist, and he later joined the Human Betterment Foundation – a group aiming to promote and enforce the sterilisation of those considered to be unfit to procreate.
In 1921 Terman began his studies on gifted (usually White) children. In his longitudinal study titled Genetic Studies of Genius Terman measured the successes of identified gifted children. During this period he also worked with Catharine Cox Miles on Sex and Personality and she completed her PhD under Terman’s supervision in1923. The two of them together developed personality tests focusing on femininity and masculinity. Interestingly, Terman’s study of the gifted children continues today. Supported by Stanford University the project is said to continue until the very last ‘termanite’ – that is participant- withdraws or dies.