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JOHN CARLYLE RAVEN 1902 - 1970

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Born in 1902, John Carlyle Raven had major difficulties at school because of his profound dyslexia: his writings earned commendation for content but low marks for presentation. His father an umbrella maker died in 1923 leaving him with the task of raising the funds needed to support his mother and sisters. This problem he partially solved by extending the family home to create rooms for lodgers, but with the additional hope that the lodgers would marry his sisters and thus solve the problem and, indeed, one of them did.

At the same time he took a job as a teacher.

John C Raven

It seems that, about this time, he formulated and checked many of his observations about human behaviour through his extensive involvement in the scouting movement.

He began his formal studies of psychology with Aveling at Kings College, London, in 1928 and one has to suppose that there were at that time, as there were later, links between Kings and University College London, because he was also a student of Spearman's. One day in 1934, Spearman asked him to take a letter to Penrose who had asked for recommendations for an assistant. Raven took the letter, but sold himself to Penrose as the person for the job.

J.C.Raven was a keen naturalist with a particular interest in ecology, particularly human ecology. His first published paper appeared in 1932 in School Nature Study. It dealt with the relationships between newts and their habitats. The motto of the journal was "To see and admire; not to harm or destroy". His creativity in finding ways of making plants visible through the construction of rock gardens persisted throughout his life.

It is probably true to say that J.C.Raven's most pervasive motivational predisposition had to do with the pursuit of design elegantly suited to its purpose and especially the progressive cyclical evolution of design and purpose. This is neatly illustrated in the items of the Progressive Matrices test, but even more strikingly in the evolution of his rock gardens (which continued into retirement and in the course of modifying which he died).

Penrose's research was concerned with the genetic and the environmental determinants of mental defect. The fieldwork involved travelling around East Anglia and finding and testing children and adults in homes, schools, and workplaces. The research was initially conducted using the Stanford revision of the Binet test, but J.C.Raven found the test cumbersome to administer and the results difficult to interpret. This led him to recognise the need for a test which would be theoretically based, clearly interpretable, and easy to administer in homes where there were willing assistant, schools where there were other constraints, and workplaces where there were time constraints and noise. (These specifications were clearly set out in his Master's thesis.)

As ever intrigued by a practical design problem, he set about evolving the necessary tool with vigour, producing an experimental version of the Progressive Matrices in 1936 and publishing it in 1938. Since the procedures used to develop the test involved what later became known as Item Response Theory it is important to recognise that, besides Spearman, there must have been others working in London at that time who were at the forefront of test design and construction.

In early 1939 he took up a fellowship with the London Child Guidance clinic. War was declared toward the end of that year and, while registering as a conscientious objector, Raven, like others he saw around him, saw the opportunity to enjoy himself by seizing opportunities to do things he would not have been able to do otherwise. Thus he joined the Mill Hill Emergency Hospital (a part of the Maudsley Hospital that had taken over the buildings of the Mill Hill public school which had been evacuated from London). He did this with a view not only to studying the more general effects of stress and injury on human behaviour but also to be in a position to promote the use of, and the collection of normative and validity data for, his Progressive Matrices test. As a result of his contacts, he was able to initiate research into the ability of the RPM to predict success in army training courses (the first large-scale psychological research project ever undertaken by the British army). This led to the adoption of the Progressive Matrices as the first standard psychological test given to all recruits to the army. A derivative ­ which later formed the basis of the Advanced Progressive Matrices ­ was prepared for use in the War Office Officer Selection Boards (WOSBY's). It was the validation of this test that provided the basis for the claim, subsequently publicised by Eysenck, that a single psychological test could provide as much information as complex Assessment Centre procedures. The Mill Hill Vocabulary test was also developed and validated at this time. As a result, it, too passed into routine use in the army, while the value of discrepancies between RPM and MHV scores proved to be of considerable value in the clinical diagnosis of patients suffering from wartime illness or accident. Amazingly, at the same time, Raven received a Medical Research Council grant to continue the genetic studies he had begun with Penrose.

It was while working at the Mill Hill Emergency Hospital that he met Mayer-Gross, the director of Clinical Research at the Crichton Royal Mental Hospital in Dumfries. This resulted in Raven being asked to form a Department of Psychological research there, and he moved to Dumfries in April 1944 ­ about one year before Germany surrendered.


It is of interest that Raven's case for registering as a Conscientious Objector was not a religious one (although he had become a Quaker), but stemmed from his observation that one of the fundamental causes of war derived from people following orders unthinkingly. It followed that it was important not to put oneself in a position in which one might be expected to do this. The result was that he was directed to pursue his own profession as a contribution to the war effort.

When he joined the Crichton he specifically negotiated a half-time employment contract so that he could pursue his research interests without his having to pretend to know the outcomes beforehand. Even the formal research programmes he negotiated with the Crichton Board on an annual basis were one year out of date so that he was in a position to answer administrators' questions. Although much of the work conducted by the Department continued to be concerned with changes in RPM and MHV scores with age, organic defect, and social conditions, Raven sought continuously to find ways of setting the work with the RPM in the context of ways of thinking about, and assessing, a wider range of individual differences. In this context it is appropriate to note that he continuously questioned the use of the term "personality".

He presented the framework he developed for thinking about and describing "the coordinates of conduct" via a set of intersecting planes. At one point he sought to make this framework concrete by talking about himself and the determinants of his own behaviour. He wrote:

"For me, words are never more than vehicles of communication. Left to myself I think more in terms of tensions and concentrations. Space and time are locations and directions in which I think of events happening. There are other locations and directions I can think about. There is for example, the location of consciousness between inner awareness and outer perception. I am also aware of enjoying or disliking things. The degree to which I enjoy or dislike anything may vary in intensity but it is always present, just as anything I perceive always has some degree of organised structure."

He made various attempts to operationalise this framework, most notably in his guidelines for clinical interviews.

As we have worked over this framework in subsequent years, it has become clear that doing so requires psychologists to change the psychometric model they adopt. Nevertheless these attempts have not been wildly successful, partly because too few researchers have sought to work with the framework Raven had developed, and partly because of the organisational constraints on what people can do in their jobs. The current state of play is summarised in the Advanced Progressive Matrices and Mill Hill Vocabulary Scale sections of the Manual for Raven's Progressive Matrices and Mill Hill Vocabulary Scales and in Competence in the Learning Society, edited by J. Raven and J. Stephenson (Lang, New York, 2001).

In his clinical work, J.C.Raven insisted that the psychologists' role was to understand behaviour rather than to change it.

As a teacher, he was Socratic, allowing freedom for young colleagues to develop rather than squeezing them into his own mould. Many young students benefited from the almost unique scheme he developed enabling them to come to the Department for residential vacation experience as an exposure to clinical practice and research procedure.

Publications by J C Raven

Other Publications

Manuals

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J. C. Raven, Publications

January 2002

Raven, J. C. (1936). Mental Tests Used in Genetic Studies: The Performances of Related Individuals in Tests Mainly Educative and Mainly Reproductive. M.Sc. Thesis, University of London.

Raven, J. C. (1939). The R.E.C.I. series of perceptual tests: An experimental survey. British Journal of Medical Psychology, XVIII, Part 1, 16­34.

Raven, J. C. (1940). Matrix tests. Mental Health, January, 10­18.

Raven, J. C. (1940). Progressive Matrices. London: H. K. Lewis.

Raven, J. C. (1940). Progressive Matrices; Instructions, Key and Norms. London: H. K. Lewis.

Raven, J. C. (1941). Standardisation of Progressive Matrices, 1938. British Journal of Medical Psychology, XIX, Part 1, 137­150.

Raven, J. C. (1942). Testing the mental ability of adults. The Lancet, January 24, 115­122.

Raven, J. C. (1943). The Mill Hill Vocabulary Scale. London: H. K. Lewis.

Raven, J. C. (1944). Controlled Projection. London: H. K. Lewis.

Raven, J. C. (1947). Age and directive capacity in industry. Industrial Welfare Society's Directors' Conference, July.

Raven, J. C. (1948). A Comparison of Skill and Awkwardness. International Congress of Psychology, July (Revised 1969).

Raven, J. C. (1948). Differences Between Skilful and Awkward Behaviour. International Congress of Psychology, July (Revised 1963).

Raven, J. C. (1948). A method for determining the typicality of personality descriptions. Journal of Mental Science, XVIV(394) 114­117.

Raven, J. C. (1948). The comparative assessment of intellectual ability. British Journal of Psychology, 39, 12­19.

Raven, J. C. (1950). The comparative assessment of personality. British Journal of Psychology, XL(3), 116­123.

Raven, J. C. (1950). What is clinical psychology? Bulletin of the British Psychological Society, January, 1­4.

Raven, J. C. (1951). Controlled Projection for Children. London: H. K. Lewis.

Raven, J. C. (1951). The instinctive disposition to act intelligently. British Journal of Psychology, XLII(4), November, 336­344.

Raven, J. C. (1952). Human Nature, Its Development Variations and Assessment. London: H. K. Lewis.

Raven, J. C. (1952). Professional relations between psychologist and client. Quarterly Bulletin, January 1­5.

Raven, J. C. (1956). The principle of individuation and the co-ordinates of conduct. British Journal of Psychology, 47(2), 95­100.

Raven, J. C. (1958). Verbal dysfunction in mental illness: A comparative study. Language and Speech, 1, Part 3, 218­225.

Raven, J. C. (1959). Note on Burt's "The distribution of intelligence". British Journal of Psychology, 50(1), February, 70­71.

Raven, J. C. (1962). Extended Guide to Using the Mill Hill Vocabulary Scale with the Progressive Matrices Scales. London: H. K. Lewis.

Raven, J. C. (1965). Advanced Progressive Matrices, Sets I and II: Plan and Use of the Scale with a Report of Experimental Work Carried out by G. A. Foulds, & A. R. Forbes. London: H. K. Lewis.

Raven, J. C. (1966). Psychological Principles Appropriate to Social and Clinical Problems. London: H. K. Lewis.

Raven, J. C., & Waite, A. (1939). Experiments on physically and mentally defective children with perceptual tests. British Journal of Medical Psychology, British Journal of Medical Psychology, XVIII, Part 1, 40­43.

Raven, J. C., & Walshaw, J. B. (1944). Vocabulary tests. British Journal of Medical Psychology, XX, Part 2, 185­194.

Esher, F. J. S., Raven, J. C., & Earl, C. J. C. (1942). Discussion on testing intellectual capacity in adults. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, 35(12), 779­785.

Foulds, G. A., & Raven, J. C. (1948). Intellectual ability and occupational grade. Occupational Psychology, 22, 197­203.

Foulds, G. A., & Raven, J. C. (1948). Normal changes in the mental abilities of adults as age advances. Journal of Mental Science, XCIV(394), January, 133­142.

Foulds, G. A., & Raven, J. C. (1950). An experimental survey with Progressive Matrices (1947). British Journal of Educational Psychology, XX(2), 104­110.

Miller, F. M., & Raven, J. C. (1939). The influence of positional factors on the choice of answers to perceptual intelligence tests. British Journal of Medical Psychology, XVIII, Part 1, 35­39.

Penrose, L. S., & Raven, J. C. (1936). A new series of perceptual tests: Preliminary communication. British Journal of Medical Psychology, XVI, Part 2, 97­104.

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Manuals

Raven, J. C, & Raven, J. (1999). Raven's Mill Hill Vocabulary: Forms 1 and 2 Junior, Forms 1 and 2 Senior, and All-Multiple-Choice Form. Oxford, England: Oxford Psychologists Press; San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.

Raven, J., Raven, J. C., & Court, J. H. (1998). Manual for Raven's Progressive Matrices and Vocabulary Scales. Section 1: General Overview. Oxford, England: Oxford Psychologists Press; San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.

Raven, J., Raven, J. C., & Court, J. H. (1999). Manual for Raven's Progressive Matrices and Vocabulary Scales. Section 2: The Coloured Progressive Matrices. Oxford, England: Oxford Psychologists Press; San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.

Raven, J., Raven, J. C., & Court, J. H. (2000). Manual for Raven's Progressive Matrices and Vocabulary Scales. Section 3: The Standard Progressive Matrices. Oxford, England: Oxford Psychologists Press; San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.

Raven, J., Raven, J. C., & Court, J. H. (2001). Manual for Raven's Progressive Matrices and Vocabulary Scales. Section 4: The Advanced Progressive Matrices. Oxford, England: Oxford Psychologists Press; San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.

Raven, J., Raven, J. C., & Court, J. H. (2001). Manual for Raven's Progressive Matrices and Vocabulary Scales. Section 5: The Mill Hill Vocabulary Scale. Oxford, England: Oxford Psychologists Press; San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.

Raven, J. (1981). Manual for Raven's Progressive Matrices and Vocabulary Scales. Research Supplement No.1: The 1979 British Standardisation of the Standard Progressive Matrices and Mill Hill Vocabulary Scales, Together With Comparative Data From Earlier Studies in the UK, US, Canada, Germany and Ireland. Oxford, England: Oxford Psychologists Press; San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.

Raven, J. (2000). Manual for Raven's Progressive Matrices and Vocabulary Scales. Research Supplement No.3 (Second Edition): A Compendium of International and North American Normative and Validity Studies Together with a Review of the Use of the RPM in Neuropsychological Assessment by Court, Drebing, & Hughes. Oxford, England: Oxford Psychologists Press; San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.

Court, J. H., & Raven, J. (1995). Manual for Raven's Progressive Matrices and Vocabulary Scales. Section 7: Research and References: Summaries of Normative, Reliability, and Validity Studies and References to all Sections. Oxford, England: Oxford Psychologists Press; San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.

Raven, J. (1994). Occupational Users Guide: Raven's Advanced Progressive Matrices and Mill Hill Vocabulary Scale. Oxford, England: Oxford Psychologists Press.

Court, J., & Raven, C. J. (2001). A Researcher's Bibliography for Raven's Progressive Matrices and Mill Hill Vocabulary Scales. Obtainable in hard copy and disk format from Mrs. C. J. Raven, 22 Woodplumpton Lane, Broughton, Preston, Lancs. PR3 5JJ, UK.

Raven, J. C., Styles, I., & Raven, M. A. (1998). Raven's Progressive Matrices: CPM Parallel Test Booklet. Oxford, England: Oxford Psychologists Press; San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.

Raven, J. C., Styles, I., & Raven, M. A. (1998). Raven's Progressive Matrices: SPM Parallel Test Booklet. Oxford, England: Oxford Psychologists Press; San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.

Raven, J. C., Styles, I., & Raven, M. A. (1998). Raven's Progressive Matrices: SPM Plus Test Booklet. Oxford, England: Oxford Psychologists Press; San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.

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Other Related Material

Necrologio, John C. Raven (1902­1970), Bollettino di Psicologia Applicata, Agosto-Occobre-Dicembre, 1970, 261­263.

John Carlyle Raven, 1902­1970, An assessment by Ralph Hetherington. Dyslexia, 4(1), March, 1998, 50­52.

Watt, D. C. (1998). Lionel Penrose, F. R. S. (1898­1972) and eugenics, Part One. Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, 52(1), 137­151.

Watt, D. C. (1998). Lionel Penrose, F. R. S. (1898­1972) and eugenics, Part Two. Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, 52(2), 339­354.

Watt, D. C. (1998). Lionel Penrose, F. R. S. (1898­1972): Psychiatrist and professor of human genetics. British Journal of Psychiatry, 173, 458­461.

Raven, J. (1997). Scotland's greatest psychologist: J. C. Raven and contemporary psychology. Bulletin (Newsletter of the Scottish Branch of the British Psychological Society), June, 12­17.

Hetherington, R. (1969). Twenty years of psychology at the Crichton Royal, Dumfries: A personal account. Bulletin of the British Psychological Society, 22, 310­306.

Hetherington, R. (1997). Scotland's greatest psychologist: J. C. Raven and contemporary psychology. Bulletin (Newsletter of the Scottish Branch of the British Psychological Society), June, 18­21.

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