Catharine Cox Miles
(May 20, 1890-October 11, 1984)
- Stanford University (B.A., 1911)
- Stanford University (M.A. in German language and literature, 1913)
- Stanford University (Ph.D., 1925) - Under Lewis Terman
- Spent a year at the University of Jena and the University of Berlin (1914)
- Instructor to full professor, the College of the Pacific (1915-1920)
- Chief psychologist for the Central Mental Hygiene Clinic in Cincinnati General Hospital, the Children’s Hospital, and the Diagnostic Center of the Veterans Bureau (1925-1927)
- Research Associate to Terman on the project leading to the construction of the Terman-Miles M-F Test at Stanford University (1927-1932)
- Clinical Professor of Psychology, Yale University (1932-1953)
- Sole-authored Volume 2 of Terman's Genetic Studies of Genius
- Calculated IQ estimates for 301 historic geniuses
- Estimated the correlation between IQ and eminence
- Assessed 67 character traits for 100 historic geniuses
- Determined the early mental and physical health of 282 geniuses
Ideas and Contributions
Catharine Cox entered the Stanford’s graduate program in psychology about the time that her mentor Terman was beginning his ambitious longitudinal study of intellectually gifted children. Because this project did not afford her with the suitable opportunity for a dissertation subject, she proposed a complementary investigation. Whereas Terman’s inquiry was psychometric and prospective, Cox would conduct a study that was historiometric and retrospective. In particular, she would estimate IQ scores for highly eminent but deceased creators and leaders and then show that these scores correlated with eminence measures that J. M. Cattell (1903) had previously provided. Just one year after publishing the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale Terman (1917) had already shown how an IQ score might be computed for a historical figure, in his case assigning an IQ of near 200 to Francis Galton.
Cox’s approach was extremely conscientious and methodical. Using more than 3,000 biographical sources she carefully compiled developmental histories for 301 geniuses, and then she and a team of independent raters – including Terman and Florence Goodenough – used these data to derive the IQ estimates. In addition, she showed that estimated IQ correlated with achieved eminence. Furthermore, for a subset of 100 geniuses she computed ratings on 67 character traits. On the basis of these scores she was able to conclude that motivation, determination, and persistence were also critical to high achievement. The resulting doctoral thesis was sufficiently impressive that Terman had it published as Volume 2 in his Genetic Studies of Genius. Not only was this the only volume that did not involve the longitudinal study of his “Termites,” but it is also the only volume that did not include Terman as an author or co-author. At 842 printed pages, it can easily be considered the most ambitious historiometric investigation ever published. Moreover, many of her key findings have been replicated in subsequent research.
Unfortunately, Cox was soon diverted from this work by (a) her collaboration with Terman on a masculinity-femininity measure and (b) her marriage to Walter Miles (a recent widower with two teenagers). She also started publishing under her married name Miles rather than Cox. However, a decade later she returned to the historic geniuses that were the subject of her thesis. Miles and Wolfe (1936) specifically scored the geniuses on early mental and physical health. Their aim was to show that intellectual giftedness was also positively associated with both mental and physical well-being.
Cox. C. (1926). The early mental traits of three hundred geniuses. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Miles, C. C. (1928). A human clock. Journal of General Psychology, 1, 602-603.
Miles, C. C., & Terman, L. M. (1929). Sex difference in the association of ideas. American Journal of Psychology, 41, 165-206.
Miles, C. C. (1931). The Otis S-A as a fifteen-minute intelligence test. Personnel Journal, 10, 246-249.
Miles, C.C. (1931). Individual mental hygiene. In B. S. Dyment (Ed.). Health and Its Maintenance (pp.159-192). Stanford Univ.: Stanford Univ. Press.
Miles, C. C., & Miles, W. R. (1932). The correlation of intelligence scores and chronological age from early to late maturity. American Journal of Psychology, 44, 44-78.
Miles, C. C (1934). Influence of speed and age on intelligence scores of adults. Journal of General Psychology, 10, 208-210.
Miles, C. C. & Wolfe, L. S. (1936). Childhood physical and mental health records of historical geniuses. Psychological Monograph, 47, 390-400.
Miles, C. C. (1938). Intelligence and social adjustment. Mental Hygiene, 22, 544-566.
Terman, L. M., & Miles, C. C. (1936). Sex and Personality. New Haven, CT, US: Yale University Press.
Simonton, D. K. (2020). Galton, Terman, Cox: The Distinctive Volume II in Genetic Studies of Genius. Gifted Child Quarterly, 64, 275-284.
Rogers, K. B. (1999). The lifelong productivity of the female researchers in Terman’s Genetic Studies of Genius longitudinal study. Gifted Child Quarterly, 43, 150-169.
Robinson, A., & Simonton, D. K. (2014). Catharine Morris Cox Miles and the lives of others (1890-1984). In A. Robinson & J. L. Jolly (Eds.), A
century of contributions to gifted education: Illuminating lives (pp. 101-114). London: Routledge.
Sears, R. R. (1986). Catharine Cox Miles; 1890-1984. American Journal of Psychology, 99, 431-433.
Simonton, D. K. (2009). The "other IQ": Historiometric assessments of
intelligence and related constructs. Review of General Psychology, 13, 315-
Simonton, D. K., & Song, A. V. (2009). Eminence, IQ, physical and mental
health, and achievement domain: Cox’s 282 geniuses revisited.
Psychological Science, 20, 429-434.
Written by Prof. Dean Keith Simonton, University of California-Davis, with contributions by Meihua Qian, Indiana University.
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