Godfrey Thomson

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Sir Godfrey Hilton Thomson (27 March 1881 – 9 February 1955) was an English educational psychologist known as a critical pioneer in intelligence research.

He worked at Armstrong College, Newcastle upon Tyne (a college of the University of Durham, England) from 1906 to 1925, before moving to the University of Edinburgh from 1925 until 1951, where he was the Bell Professor of Education and Director of the Moray House Teacher Training College.

His research began in psychophysics,[1] but he became best known for his criticism of Spearman’s general factor in intelligence.[2] Pursuing this interest led to a major work on factor analysis of mental ability.[3]

Thomson was also active in work on the relationship between intelligence and fertility, conducting some of the first nationally representative sample research, which demonstrated that this relationship was negative.[4]

Thomson was president of the British Psychological Society in 1945-1946. He was knighted in 1949. He has a brief entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.[5]


  1. ^ Thomson, G. H. (1912). A comparison of psychophysical methods. British Journal of Psychology, 5, 203–241.
  2. ^ Thomson, G. H. (1916). A hierarchy without a general factor. British Journal of Psychology, 8, 271–281.
  3. ^ Thomson, G. H. (1939). The factorial analysis of human ability. London: University of London Press.
  4. ^ Thomson, G. H. (1950). Intelligence and fertility: The Scottish 1947 survey. Eugenics Review, 41, 163–170.
  5. ^ Lovie, P. & Lovie, A. D. (2004). Thomson, Sir Godfrey Hilton (1881–1955). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press.

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