• Indiana University, Psychology (B.A., 1897; M.A., 1899)
  • Columbia University, Psychology (Ph.D., 1901)


  • Instructor in Psychology, Ohio State University (1897-1899)
  • Psychological Research, Columbia University (1901-1903)
  • Instructor in Anthropology, Columbia University (1903-1909)
  • Curator, American Museum of Natural History (1902-1942)
  • Psychological Research, Yale University (1924-1931)
  • Anthropology Professor, Yale University (1931-1940).

Major Contributions

  • Applied correlation factor to empirically disprove Cattell’s method of intelligence testing

Ideas and Interests

After studying under Cattell, Wissler undertook to evaluate the result’s of Cattell’s attempts to measure the mental ability of students by measuring their reaction time, movement time, and other simple mental and sensory processes. He found very small or non-existent correlation between academic standing and the tests, with the effect of undermining both Cattell’s approach to mental testing and testing in general until Binet’s differing approach was introduced a few years later.

Wissler subsequently shifted his research and teaching interests to Anthropology, where he became one of America’s foremost authorities on American Indians. His foundational interest in psychology made him sympathetic toward the development of anthropological research in the area of “culture and personality”. He supported the work of Margaret Mead, among others, at the American Museum of Natural History


  • North American Indians of the Plains (1912)
  • The American Indian (1917; 2nd ed.,1922)
  • Man and Culture (1923)
  • The Relation of Nature to Man in Aboriginal America (1926)
  • Indian Cavalcade (1938)
  • Indians of the United States (1940).

References: 3, 10, 38