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Hist Psychol. 2006 Nov;9(4):267-89.

Politics and naturalism in the 20th century psychology of Alfred Binet.

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  • 1Faculty of Psychology 1, University of Rome "La Sapienza".


Alfred Binet is internationally recognized as the "father" of the first intelligence test as well as the most faithful French representative of laboratory experimentalism. A historical analysis of his work is therefore necessary to get to a thorough comprehension of 20th century psychology. The present article, starting from Binet's intellectual path and from the suggestions of the previous historical literature, aims at providing fresh insights into Binet's work by trying to capture the intersections between Binet, his naturalistic culture and the political context in which he worked in the early 20th century, when he actively tried to apply experimental psychology to the pedagogical area. In fact, it is possible to underline, with reference to those years, an evident turn towards applications in Binet's psychological production. The article reconstructs the political and institutional background of Binet's research and shows how the naturalism and experimentalism he promoted were complementary to the solidarist conceptions that were particularly prevalent among those who supported his work during the Third Republic.

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