Stanley Porteus

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Stanley Porteus
BornApril 24, 1883
DiedOctober 21, 1972
Scientific career

Prof. Stanley David Porteus (April 24, 1883 - October 21, 1972) was an Australian psychologist and author.

Stanley Porteus was born in 1883 at Box Hill, Victoria, Australia, a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, where he went to school. After marriage, Porteus attempted study at the University of Melbourne but with mixed success and he never graduated.

He was the initial head teacher at Victoria's first Education Department sponsored school for feeble-minded children and in 1916 he took on extra work in an informal arrangement with the University of Melbourne, lecturing to students in this developing field. Following his own requests, the Education Department awarded him the title of Superintendent of Special Schools, although this was a hollow appointment with no viable function or separate salary.

Having the task of selecting feeble-minded children for his small school, Porteus experimented with notions of head size and the emerging pencil and paper tests of intelligence that emerged in the early years of the twentieth century. He soon devised a new intelligence test of his own, the Porteus Maze Test, a non-verbal intelligence test. The test was originally used to identify children in need of special education, though it is still in use today for other purposes.[1]

In 1918 Porteus was invited to join the Vineland Training School in New Jersey, United States, moving there to become Director of Research. This invitation came at a good time, as his full-time employment as a head teacher with the Victorian Education Department was souring and although he had no university degree, the new job launched him into a lifelong academic career. In 1922 he moved to Hawaii where he founded the Psychological and Psychopathic Clinic at the University of Hawaii, eventually becoming professor of clinical psychology and its director and Dean of the Psychology Department in 1925.

The author of many papers and books, Porteus also created a racial hierarchy of intelligence using his maze device which he believed was "a valid, culture-free measure of general intelligence--despite the fact that among his South African samples one group that already knew a 'labyrinth game' outscored all neighboring groups that did not know the game" (Cole 56). His theories about the superior intelligence of white races has led to recent controversy, including protests by students at the University of Hawaii. Porteus was an early contributor to Mankind Quarterly, helped William Shockley organize the Foundation for Education on Eugenics and Dysgenics[citation needed], and served on the executive committee of the International Association for the Advancement of Ethnology and Eugenics.

He died in 1972 at Honolulu, where the University social sciences building, Porteus Hall, was named after him in 1974. However, university students mounted a full-scale protest at Porteus' perceived "blatantly racist theories" and eventually, in 1998, the authorities relented and his name was removed from the building.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shum, David; O'Gorman, John; Myors, Brett (10 July 2013). Psychological Testing and Assessment (Second edition). Oxford University Press. p. 169. ISBN 978-0-1955-2041-5.
  • Cole, Michael. "Cross-Cultural Investigations." Cultural Psychology. (1996): 55-56. Print.

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