So in my researching for my English essay, I read quite a bit about the Royal Society (or, the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge as its full title stands).
Well, today I found out that one of the main developers of my favorite statistical test EVER (factor analysis) was also a part of the Society for awhile: Charles Spearman!
So let’s check him out, shall we?
Charles Spearman (1863 – 1945) resigned from 15 years of service in the British Army to pursue a PhD in experimental psychology. By the time he obtained his degree he had already published a paper on the factor analysis of human intelligence. This paper impressed many of his fellow psychologists at the time, mainly because of Spearman’s rigorous application of mathematical techniques and models (factor analysis!) to the analysis of the human mind.
In fact, his work was so impressive that it earned him a place in the Royal Society in 1924. Spearman continued his work, focusing mainly on developing new statistical techniques that could be applied to, among other things, psychological constructs and concepts. He was especially influenced by Galton (developer of correlation) and worked to create a nonparametric version of Pearson’s method of calculating correlation.*
But probably his greatest contribution had to be the part he played in the development of factor analysis. Even today, it’s probably one of the most used statistical techniques in the realm of the social sciences, particularly in psychology.
So there you go! A little bit about one of the founders of the super awesome factor analysis. Cool, huh?
*Actually, this ended up as another “two smart dudes can’t get along feud” between himself and Pearson, the latter not appreciating the nonparametric adaptation of his technique. What do they put in that Royal Society water, anyway?