An Artistic Test from Norman Meier

By Denise Anderson

During this week of final exams, perhaps a more enjoyable test to engage in might be one that measures your artistic ability?  Professor Norman C. Meier, of the UI Department of Psychology, developed the Meier Art Tests, which evolved from his Ph.D. dissertation at Iowa in 1926, “The Use of Aesthetic Judgment in the Measurement of Art Talent.”

Meier became well known for the tests he designed for assessing artistic aptitude. These were devised, in part, through his study of 100 artists from eight countries. His areas of research were psychology of art, and social and political behavior. Meier’s research in the latter field resulted in methods of measuring audience response to theatre and broadcast programs. He also studied mob behavior and crowd control.  George Gallup was a student of Dr. Meier, who later developed a successful public polling organization, and his papers also recently came to the University of Iowa.

 An example question “Meier Art Tests: I. Art Judgment ” (1940) is presented below.  Which seems like the better image to you?

 

 

The University of Iowa was a primary contributor to the development of aptitude testing in the early 20th century. The Iowa Testing Programs led to Meier and Gallup’s work as well as the widely used American College Testing Program (ACT). You can read more about this time in The Iowa Testing Programs: The First Fifty Years, by Julia J. Peterson, which describes the birth of a testing program within the University of Iowa College of Education in 1928. Norman Meier’s Papers are part of Special Collections & University Archives (RG 99.0163) and you can view the Collection Guide here: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/spec-coll/archives/guides/RG99.0163.html.  George Gallup’s Papers are currently being processed so watch for updates soon.