History of the Psychometric Society

The six founders of the society were (in the order shown from left to right in the picture below) Albert K. Kurtz, Paul Horst (see also here), L. L. Thurstone (see also here), John StalnakerMarion W. Richardson and Jack W. Dunlap. The first organizational meeting of the Psychometric Society took place on September 4, 1935, at Ann Arbor, Michigan, during the session of the American Psychological Association.


Picture credits. Albert K. Kurtz: Penn State Univeristy Archives, 1950; Paul Horst: American Psychologist (1991), 46(7), 783; Louis L. Thurstone: From Dr. Ludy Benjamin; John Stalnaker: Stanford Quad Yearbook, 1946; Marion Richardson: American Psychologist (1947), 2 (6), 206; Jack Dunlap: From University of Rochester Yearbook, 1943, p.26.

According to Dunlap (1942), the founders of the society initially came together, not to start a society but to start the journal Psychometrika. Paul Horst's failed attempt to find a journal devoted to quantitative methods as applied to education and psychology led him to discuss the matter at length with Kurtz and to carefully examine the possibility of such a journal with Thurstone and Richardson in 1933. Dunlap was brought on board because of his connection with the Journal of Educational Psychology.  In the spring and summer of 1934, Horst, Kurtz, Richardson and Stalnaker worked on details of the journal such as costs and publishers. Plans by these six men to start the journal crystallized during the 1934 fall meeting of the American Psychological Association at Columbia University. At this meeting, Kurtz began to emphasize that readers of the journal would be likely to be interested in forming a society.

"The next problem was to determine whether other biometricians, educators, psychologists, and statisticians were interested in forming such a Society. Thurstone made this possible by the liberal contribution of not only his own time and effort but also that of his staff. Through the facilities at his command, letters of inquiry were sent to a large number of individuals who, it was thought, might be interested. As a result of this canvass, invitations were extended to all who replied to attend the formation of the Society on September 4, 1935, at Ann Arbor, Michigan, during the session of the American Psychological Association. Temporary officers were appointed for the Society, and later in the fall a mail ballot for election of officers was held. Dr. L. L. Thurstone was the first president, Dr. Paul Horst, the secretary, and the speaker, the treasurer." (Dunlap, 1942)

See Timeline for events in the history of the society and 80th Anniversary Posters about past meetings, past presidents, and notable papers in Psychometrika.

In 2016, Psychometrika, the flagship journal of the Psychometric Society, turns 80. Springer, the publisher of Psychometrika, celebrates this anniversary with this website. Willem Heiser and Lawrence Hubert chaired Psychometrika Anniversary Sessions at IMPS 2016 and the papers and slides prepared by the presenters in these sessions about ten Psychometrika citation classics are available here.

Psychometricians and Past Officers of the Psychometric Society

Past Meetings of the Psychometric Society

Publications about the history of the Psychometric Society

This page is under development.  We welcome corrections, suggestions, and contributions, which can be submitted to sophiarh@berkeley.edu.