Boring, Edwin


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Boring was an American experimental Psychologist but importantly he was also one of the first historians of Psychology. He wrote A History of Experimental Psychology in 1929, a text which is often considered to one of the first history of Psychology books and is cited widely. Despite an early education as an engineer Boring became interested in Psychology in 1905. He later became a Professor while working at Harvard University in 1928 – the same time that he was president of the American Psychological Association. Along with his interest in the history of Psychology, Boring was centrally interested in sensory and perceptual research questions.
Boring was not drafted into the First World War, however he still assisted in the war effort by working with Robert M. Yerkes conducting intelligence testing on recruits. During this time he worked as Chief Psychological Examiner and was involved in a large scale report of the Army Intelligence Program. Since this experience Boring is said to have become distrustful of intelligence tests.
He also was unconvinced by the effectiveness of Psychoanalysis. Boring underwent Psychoanalysis in the early 1930s for one year with an old colleague of Sigmund Freud – Hans Sachs. They later both agreed that Psychoanalysis had not been successful.
In 1951 Bring wrote ‘The Woman Problem’ a critical piece about how men were held with more prestige in Psychology than women. He noted the lack of women presidents of the APA and also considered the career versus marriage issue which was central for women around this time. He also drew upon the Work of Lewis Terman and Catharine Cox Mile. Interestingly, Boring’s wife Lucy M. Day was also a Psychologist, and so was one of the few married and working women Psychologists at the time. These arguments outlined by Boring were later adopted by feminist Psychologists interested in the history of Psychology (for example see Bohen, 1990; Furumoto and Scarborough, 1986; Milar, 2000).