The following essay offers both a short biography of Psychologist Alfred Binet and
a present day practical application using the theory from which Binet developed his
Alfred Binet, born in Nice, France, on the eleventh of July, whose mother was an
artist and whose father was a physician, became one of the most prominent
psychologists in French history.
Having received his formal education in both Nice and later, in Paris, at the
renowned Lycee Louis -le-Grand, Binet went on to become a lawyer. This profession,
however, was not suited to him, and he found himself immersed in the works of J.S.
Mill, Bain and Sully at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. He identified strongly
with the associationism theory in following that his mentor was J.S. Mill.
Binet began working with Charcot and Fere at the Salpetriere, a famous Parisian
hospital, where he absorbed the theories of his teachers in regards to hypnosis,
hysteria and abnormal psychology. During the following seven years, he continuously
demonstrated his loyalty in defending Charcot's doctrines on hypnotic transfer and
polarization until he was forced to accept the counterattacks of Delboeuf and the
Nancy School, which eventually caused a split between student and teacher.
Having been married in 1884 to Laure Balbiani, whose father was E.G. Balbiani, an
embryologist at the College de France, Binet was given the opportunity to work in
his lab where his interest in 'comparative psychology' was piqued and in which he
eventually wrote his thesis for his doctorate in natural science, focusing his
research on the "the behavior, physiology, histology and anatomy of insects"(Wolfe,
p.7). It was while working in Dr. Balbiani's lab, that Binet wrote 'Animal
Magnetism', an obvious breaking away from associationism, showing Binet's ability
to adapt and learn with every opportunity.
Binet's next area of interest could be considered a precursor to some of Piaget's
work with child psychology and began with the systematic observation of his two
daughters, to whom he devoted much of his time, studying and writing about. It was
at this point, that Binet "came to realize that individual differences had to be