David Wechsler: biography of the creator of intelligence scales

David Wechsler is an old acquaintance of all those who have studied intelligence at the scientific level, in disciplines like psychology or branches or specializations like neuropsychology or neuropsychiatry. It’s not in vain the author of one of the best known and most used batteries to assess cognitive abilities, The Wechsler Intelligence Scales, in the Adult (WAIS) and Pediatric (WISC) versions.

We are probably in front of one of the most recognized and important professionals who have researched and carried out various studies on intelligence and cognitive abilities, and who have turned this research into practical material that allows us to assess the condition of patients. Below we will see a brief biography of David Wechsler.

    The life of the creator of the Wechsler staircase: biography of David Wechsler

    David Wechsler was born on January 12, 1896 in the Romanian town of Lespedi, the youngest of seven children. He came from a Jewish family, the son of Professor Moses S. Wechsler and merchant Leah W. Pascal.

    In 1902, when David was six, the Wechsler family emigrated to the United States., Specifically in New York. Nationalized in this country, he would do his primary and secondary studies.

    University education and the First World War

    After graduating from high school, he began his university studies at City College of New York, from which he graduated in 1916. He then obtained a master’s degree in experimental psychology from Columbia University in 1917.

    After that and before the outbreak of World War I, he enlisted in the army, in which he participated as a psychologist. He first worked on Long Island, at Camp Yaphank, being assigned to take General Intelligence tests (specifically the Army Alpha Alpha and Beta, which were intended to be used to assess the assignment. recruits as officers or shallow soldiers) in the face of recruit selection.

    He would perform the same duties in the psychological division of Fort Logan, Texas, where he would meet and work with writers such as Thorndike, Yerkes, Spearman, and Pearson. Throughout his military experience, he began to notice that the tests employed had serious limitations and biases (for example, they were not suitable for the illiterate or foreigners, the verb being too important).

    He also served in France. The war is over, the army he received a scholarship in 1918 to study at the University of London, Where he would meet Pearson or Spearman.

    Subsequently, in 1919, he was accepted at the University of Paris, where he conducted research in experimental psychology on variations in the electrical conductivity of the skin in the face of emotional changes alongside Piéron and Lapique, until 1922. .

    That same year he returned to the United States, initially working at Boston Psychiatric Hospital by, month later, to move to New York and to enter like psychologist in the Office of Guidance Child, center in which it observed and exerted like clinical psychologist until 1925. That year finalized its investigation on the electrical conduction of the skin, doctorando with her by Columbia University (after being supervised by Woodworth).

      Postdoctoral life and World War II

      Later to suppress the doctorate he would spend the following years, specifically until 1932, exerting like clinical psychologist in the private office, besides like secretary in Psychological Corporation of New York (in which he introduced a lie detector in 1926. ). His research showed him that the magnitude of interpersonal differences has been overestimated in terms of cognitive abilities, as well as from certain ages, these begin to decline.

      In 1932, he was offered the post of psychologist at the Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital, a post he held until 1967. He also remained in contact with the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology at New York University. His studies were however varied intelligence would continue to be the subject that interested him the most.

      In 1934 he married Florence Felske, although weeks after marriage she died in a car accident. He would not remarry until 1939, when would marry Ruth Halpern (With whom he would end up having two children).

      The same year of this second marriage would also be that of a milestone in psychology, the publication of his first intelligence scales. We are talking about the Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Scale. Nevertheless, unfortunately also it was in this same year that the Second World War would begin.

      During this second war, he was appointed adviser to the US Secretary of War. Its role would also be relevant after the war, develop and implement a mental health program for Holocaust survivors in Cyprus in 1947 and working with veterans. He also visited the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where he briefly worked as a professor in 1967.

      Another remarkable aspect in that over the years has been the development of different tests, including the Wechsler Memory Scale, or the well-known WAIS (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale), WISC (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children) or WPPSI (Wechsler Primary and Preschool Scale of Intelligence., For preschoolers) as well as some of its reviews. Her contributions were highly respected and appreciated during her lifetime, receiving various decorations for them.

        Death and inheritance

        Wechsler died at his Manhattan home on May 2, 1981, At New York. Her death came at the age of 85, leaving a wife, children and grandchildren. However, its legacy is vast and still in effect today.

        His studies on intelligence and the scales he created were very helpful to assess and assess the cognitive status of patients with a certain type of impairment.

        In fact, although the entire battery is usually not used as it would involve a considerable amount of time, it is common that many tests generated are used today in the assessment of people with memory problems, to assess cognitive abilities. and adjustment aids if necessary (for example in the event of a need for teaching aids at school) or with a kind of cognitive impairment (to assess the impairment caused by age or even to observe the alterations generated by a certain type of dementia).

        Tests such as WAIS and WISC continue to be performed periodically, Improve and update its scales but retaining the name of its original designer, Wechsler.

        Bibliographical references:

        • Saxon, W. (1981). Dr. David Wechsler, 85, author of intelligence tests. The New York Times.

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