Standard Article

Thurstone, Louis Leon (1887–1955)

  1. Staff

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0995

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Staff 2010. Thurstone, Louis Leon (1887–1955). Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Considered the foremost American leader in psychometrics, Louis Leon Thurstone was born in Chicago, Illinois, but spent his childhood in Sweden; he returned to the United States to earn a degree in electrical engineering at Cornell University in 1912. While still a student, he invented and patented a motion picture projector. It attracted the attention of Thomas A. Edison, who hired him as an assistant. Working in Edison's laboratory, Thurstone became interested in problems of acoustics, sensory psychology, and the objective measurement of sensation. This led him to graduate study in psychology at the University of Chicago, where he received his PhD degree in 1917. After eight years at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, where he became professor and chairman of the Psychology Department, Thurstone returned to the University of Chicago, to serve as Professor of psychology for 28 years. The last three years of his life were spent at the University of North Carolina as the first Director of the Psychometric Laboratory, which now bears his name. He was the President of the American Psychological Association in 1932; in 1936, he was one of the founders and first President of the Psychometric Society.


  • factor analysis;
  • measurement;
  • primary mental abilities;
  • psychometrics