STERN, WILLIAM

STERN, WILLIAM (Louis; 1871–1938), German philosopher and psychologist; grandson of sigismund stern . Stern, who was born and educated in Berlin, was the founder of personalistic psychology and a pioneer in many other fields of psychology. He taught philosophy and psychology at Breslau (1897–1915), before becoming professor of psychology and philosophy at the University of Hamburg and head of the Institute of Psychology (1916). Stern co-edited Zeitschrift fuer angewandte Psychologie (1907–33). Expelled by the Nazis, he fled to Holland (1933) and from there went to the U.S. In 1934 he became professor of psychology at Duke University (North Carolina), where he remained until his death. At Breslau, Stern invented an instrument, the Tonvariator, to effect changes in pitch, and studied the perception of change in many sense modalities. His approach foreshadowed the methods of Gestalt psychology. Its importance lay in its opposition to the "constancy hypothesis," the notion that there has to be a simple one-to-one relationship between stimulus and response. Stern was also interested in the psychology of the courtroom and of the witness stand. Child psychology engaged his attention throughout his life, and formed a basis for his studies in IQ and personalistic psychology. He and his wife, Clara, studied their own and other children by making use of questionnaires and the direct observation technique. This work led to a study of intelligence, and it was in this connection that he improved the method of Binet by introducing the ratio of mental age to chronological age (IQ), as an age-independent index of intelligence (1912). Stern found that a wealth of influences arrayed themselves in a unified pattern in the developing individual. He called it a unitas multiplex ("a whole of many parts"). His convergence theory stressed the convergence of character traits with the totality of environmental influences. His studies of Helen Keller (1910) were an attempt to validate his theories. Stern divided his energies between the applied work of his institute, famous for its early identification of gifted children, and his studies of the individual as a living, unique whole, capable of goal-directed behavior and experience, a concept intended to weld the multiplicity of psychological functions into a complex unity. It was in connection with this personalistic theory that he rejected his early formulation of the IQ as too narrow, although he defended its heuristic value. Although his ideas were not readily accepted in American psychology and he gained few disciples, his point of view foreshadowed many of the trends which later gained prominence in formulations of psychological theory. His works include Die Analogie im volkstuemlichen Denken (1893); Psychologie der Veraenderungsauffassung (1898); Psychologie der individuellen Differenzen (1900); Zur Psychologie der Aussage (1902); "Helen Kellers Persoenliche Eindruecke" in Zeitschrift fuer angewandte Psychologie, 3 (1910), 321–33; Die psychologischen Methoden der Intelligenzpruefung und deren Anwendung an Schulkindern (1912); Person und Sache (3 vols., 1906, 1918, 1924); Psychologie der fruehen Kindheit bis zum sechsten Lebensjahre (1914) transl. as Psychology of Early Childhood up to the Sixth Year (1930); Allgemeine Psychologie auf personalistitscher Grundlage (1935), transl. by H.D. Spoerl as General Psychology, from the Personalistic Standpoint (1938). In collaboration with Clara Stern he wrote Die Kindersprache (1907) and Erinnerung, Aussage und Luege in der ersten Kindheit (1908). (Helmut E. Adler) Stern's wife, CLARA JOSEEPHY (1878–1945), was a child psychologist. She collaborated with her husband on research projects involving the growth and development of their three children. This joint effort resulted in two monographs on the mental and spiritual development of the child from birth through the primary school years. The first, Die Kindersprache (1907, 19223), an investigation from the psychological and linguistic standpoints, traced the development in children from the ability to articulate the first word to that of composing sentences. As source materials, Clara Stern used the diaries recording observations of her own children as well as available scientific literature. The second monograph, Erinnerung, Aussage und Luege in der ersten Kindheit (1908, 19314), interpreted children's statements in psychological and personal terms. Her diaries were the basis of her husband's Psychology of Early Childhood up to the Sixth Year (1928). (William W. Brickman) -BIBLIOGRAPHY: A History of Psychology in Autobiography, 1 (1930, repr. 1961), 335–88; G.W. Allport, in: Character and Personality, 5 (1936/37), 231–46; H. Werner, ibid., 7 (1938/39), 109–25; G.W.   Allport, in: American Journal of Psychology, 51 (1938), 770–4; idem, in: B.B. Wolman (ed.), Historical Roots of Contemporary (1940), 1–15 (Ger.); William Stern bibliography, compiled by Eva Michaelis-Stern (1971).

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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