Hans Jürgen Eysenck

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Hans Eysenck

Hans Jürgen Eysenck (born March 4, 1916 in Berlin ; † September 4, 1997 in London ) was a German-born British psychologist who was particularly known for his research on differences in human intelligence and personality . He attached great importance to heredity . He was a critic of Freudian psychoanalysis . He also worked on behavior therapy , behavioral genetics , cancer , gender , sexual behavior , political orientation , astrology and parapsychology .

He is one of the most cited psychologists. He has been described in the professional world as one of the most important or at times most influential British or at times most cited psychologist worldwide.

Critics classify certain views of Eysenck on differences in intelligence as racist .

After a re-evaluation in 2019, King's College London classified 26 publications by Eysenck as "unsafe".


Hans Eysenck with his second wife Sybil

Eysenck was the son of actors Helga Molander and Eduard Eysenck . In a 1977 interview, he said that his mother was a Catholic and his father was a Lutheran , which he later portrayed as a misunderstanding that it was the other way around. In his autobiography, published in 1990, he wrote that his maternal grandmother came from a Jewish family, which he found out after her death in a concentration camp .

In 1934 Eysenck left National Socialist Germany and went into exile first in France and then in Great Britain . He justified his escape from Germany politically: “My hatred of [Hitler] and the Nazis, and all they stood for, was so overwhelming that no argument could counter it.” (Ex: “My hatred of Hitler and the Nazis and everything what they stood for was so overwhelming that no argument could counter it. ”) After graduating , he received his doctorate in 1940 at University College London under Cyril Burt . During World War II he worked in an emergency hospital and investigated the credibility of psychiatric diagnoses. After the war he taught at King's College London and also worked as director of the psychological department at Maudsley Hospital . In 1955 he became professor of psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry (IOP) and taught there until 1983.

Eysenck was married twice. After the divorce from Margaret Malcolm Davies, he married the psychologist Sibylle Rostal , a daughter of the Jewish violinist Max Rostal (1905-1991). The first marriage produced a son, the second a daughter and three sons, including the psychologist Michael W. Eysenck .


Eysenck was a fan of empirical and statistical methods. He therefore made use of factor analysis in intelligence and personality research , building on the work of Charles Spearman .

In the introduction to the book The Inequality of Man (1973), Eysenck describes in detail his development from a staunch behaviorist , who ascribes the different characteristics of people primarily to the environment in which they grow up, to a supporter of the opinion that these characteristics are largely due to heredity be determined.

Intelligence research

In intelligence research, he continued the research of his teacher Cyril Burt and tried to determine the inherited proportion of intelligence , which he saw at 70 to 80 percent. At the same time , he criticized the common intelligence tests because, in his opinion, they do not measure a person's entire abilities. According to Eysenck, there are two basic processes of intelligence . Intelligence tests only cover the so-called Level II abilities, but not the Level I abilities, which are only weakly correlated with them.

Eysenck advocated the thesis that there were significant differences between the “races” with regard to the intelligence quotient. Whites are ahead of blacks:

“Comparing black and white American children for schools, housing, and parental status and income, could hardly cancel out that 15-point interracial IQ difference; Worse still, when comparing the children of black middle-class parents who attended good schools and lived in good surroundings with the children of white working-class parents who went to poor slum schools and lived in poor environments, the white children still did better on intelligence tests . "

Researchers such as Donald D. Dorfman and Leon Kamin assume that a large part of Burt's data, which Eysenck relied on, among other things, was forged . However, other researchers disagree with this view.

Personality research

In personality research, too, he assumed genetically determined differences between people. Eysenck developed a personality system in which the personality of each individual can be described as the result of the development of the dimensions introversion – extraversion and instability – stability . The ancient theory of temperament overlaps with that of Eysenck: the phlegmatic is introverted and stable, the melancholic introverted and unstable, the sanguineous extrovert and stable, and the choleric extrovert and unstable. Eysenck's theory but no personality typology , but a theory of factors based on personality dimensions. Another dimension of his personality research is psychoticism , which deals with socially deviant behavior.

He tried to combine his theory with physiological processes. Extraverts are z. B. characterized by an increased excitation threshold of the ascending reticular activation system (ARAS) of the brain. This means that they are continuously under a reduced excitation process from the environment, combined with inhibitory impulses from the body (sent by the reticular formation in the brain). The opposite is true for introverts: They are chronically overstimulated. Eysenck therefore assumed that introverts are easier to condition than extraverts because of their higher arousal potential, and based his assumptions empirically with various conditioning experiments (e.g. eyelid closure experiments).

With his research on arousal and inhibition, Eysenck leaned on the theories of Iwan Petrowitsch Pavlov and Clark L. Hull .

He developed a series of personality scales that were also translated into German, such as the Maudsley Medical Questionnaire (MMQ, MPI), the Eysenck Personality Inventory (EPI) and the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ). Eysenck's personality factors were in competition with Raymond Bernard Cattell's 16-factor model . The currently most proven model is the five-factor model ( Big Five ), which agrees with Eysenck's personality theory on many points. Introversion – extraversion corresponds to the category of the same name and instability – stability corresponds to neuroticism . Only psychoticism cannot be assigned so clearly to other personality traits.


Eysenck evaluated the healing success of psychoanalysis from 1952 and found that the therapy according to Sigmund Freud not only contributed just as little to the recovery of the patient as eclectic therapies, but even hindered improvement through spontaneous healing. According to his measurement, 44-64 percent of those treated for many years showed an improvement, but 72 percent of an untreated control group . This was the beginning of Eysenck's criticism of psychoanalysis. Eysenck later revised this view by pointing out that proof of effectiveness had not yet been provided at the time. It is thanks to his challenge that empirical psychotherapy research has been increasingly carried out from now on . In addition to Joseph Wolpe , Eysenck became one of the founders of behavior therapy and developed it further on an empirical basis.


Eysenck was of the opinion that the stars influence the way people live. He had found "some real facts in the field of astrology" which "quite conclusively" prove "that there is a relationship between the position of the planets (Mars, Saturn and Jupiter) at the time of the birth of a child and his later personality".


Eysenck's interpretation of the data relating to differences in intelligence among black and white Americans in Race, Intelligence and Education (1971) is often categorized as racist . At the same time he took a strong approach to milieu theories. Eysenck was criticized because of the publication of several articles in the magazine Nation und Europa and in the right-wing National-Zeitung , which referred to him as her "colleague". Here he published, among other things, an article in which he accuses Sigmund Freud of cunning and a lack of sincerity and alludes to his Jewish origins. He also stood wholeheartedly behind the Thule seminar, which can be assigned to "intellectual right-wing extremism" . In a book published by its representatives, The Immortal Legacy of Pierre Krebs , he wrote the foreword in which he described "equality of people" as an "untenable ideological doctrine". He is among the 52 co-signers of Mainstream Science on Intelligence , written by Linda Gottfredson and published in December 1994 by the Wall Street Journal . In his book Heredity, Intelligence and Education , Eysenck also tried to show that the “American negroes” are genetically “less gifted”. In addition, Eysenck was a member of the scientific advisory board of the US magazine Mankind Quarterly , a socio-cultural magazine that advocated “racial segregation” in the US. An interview with Eysenck on differences in intelligence between “ races ” also appeared in the Beacon , a publication of the briefly existing British right-wing extremist National Party founded in 1976 .

The social psychologist Michael Billig described Eysenck's scientific work on intelligence as political - possible political motivations of his critics, which are postulated by Eysenck, are left open. He represented Eysenck as a key player alongside Arthur Jensen in the resumption of academic racial research after the Second World War .

2019 King's College London investigation

In 2019, King's College London undertook an investigation into work that Eysenck published with Ronald Grossarth-Maticek . It came to the conclusion that 26 publications are to be regarded as "unsafe" and recommended that the respective publishers withdraw the publications ( retraction ). The psychiatrist Anthony Pelosi, initiator of the controversy, writes that the background would suggest that it could be "the worst scientific scandal of all time". A few months after Eysenck's death, his written documents were destroyed, so that some questions can no longer be answered.

Since Eysenck died and can no longer defend himself against allegations, Grossarth wrote a reply and announced legal action.

As a result of the investigation by King's College London, the International Journal of Sport Psychology withdrew a publication in January 2020 in which Eysenck was involved. Shortly thereafter, 13 more publications were withdrawn. In July 2020, a further seven publications that had appeared in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine and the International Journal of Social Psychiatry were questioned by these journals due to doubts about the reliability of their database.

Fonts (German)

Eysenck wrote about 50 monographs and about 900 articles. A detailed bibliography was published in 2001 in the Elsevier magazine Personality and Individual Differences (PAID Vol. 31, No. 1), which he founded.

  • Ways and ailments of psychology . Rowohlt, Reinbek 1956; 13. A. Klotz, Frankfurt am Main 1983, ISBN 3-88074-226-X .
  • Neuroses, causes and healing methods. Introduction to Modern Behavioral Therapy (with Stanley Rachman). German Science Publishing House, Berlin 1967.
  • Intelligence test . Rowohlt, Reinbek 1972; New edition ibid. 2009, ISBN 978-3-499-62532-9 .
  • The experimental society. Social innovations through applied psychology . Rowohlt, Reinbek 1973, ISBN 3-498-01611-3 .
  • Heredity, Intelligence, and Upbringing. To the criticism of the educational milieu theory . Seewald , Stuttgart 1975, ISBN 3-512-00801-1 .
  • The inequality of people . List, Munich 1975, ISBN 3-471-66579-X .
  • The future of psychology . List, Munich 1977, ISBN 3-471-77413-0 .
  • Astrology. Science or Superstition? (with David Nias). List, Munich 1982, ISBN 3-471-77417-3 .
  • The supersensible person. Psi Research Report (with Carl Sargent). Kösel, Munich 1984, ISBN 3-466-11039-4 .
  • Sigmund Freud. The decline and the end of psychoanalysis . List, Munich 1985, ISBN 3-471-77418-1 .
  • Personality and individuality. A scientific paradigm (with Michael W. Eysenck). Psychologie-Verlags-Union, Munich 1987, ISBN 3-621-27043-4 .
  • Crime and personality . Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main 1980, ISBN 3-548-35047-X .
  • Smoking and health. Plea for more objectivity . Rau, Düsseldorf 1987, ISBN 3-7919-0284-9 .
  • The IQ Bible. Understand and measure intelligence . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-608-94366-8 .


  • Axel Hirsch (Ed.): Right psychology. Hans Jürgen Eysenck and his science . Asanger, Heidelberg 1989, ISBN 3-89334-135-8 .
  • Wolfgang Beutin: Hans Jürgen Eysenck. In: Award-Winning. Peter Lang Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2012, ISBN 978-3-631-63297-0 , pp. 181-210.
  • Reinhard J. Boerner: Temperament. Theory, research, clinic . Springer-Verlag, Berlin / Heidelberg 2015, ISBN 978-3-642-39505-5 , Section 4.3.1 The theory of Eysenck , p. 69–80 ( limited preview in Google Book search).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Sohan Modgil, Celia Modgil (ed.): Hans Eysenck: Consensus and Controversy . Essays in Honor of Hans Eysenck. 1986, ISBN 1-85000-021-2 , pp. 2 (Introductory text by the editors).
  2. ^ Roderick D. Buchanan: Playing With Fire: The Controversial Career of Hans J. Eysenck . 1st edition. Oxford University Press , Oxford 2010, ISBN 0-19-856688-3 ( limited preview in Google Book Search).
  3. a b Steven J. Haggbloom include: The 100 Most Eminent Psychologists . In: Review of General Psychology . tape 6 , no. 2 . American Psychological Association , 2002, pp. 139–152 ( udayton.edu [PDF; accessed September 15, 2012]). udayton.edu ( Memento of the original from November 28, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / campus.udayton.edu
  4. Most cited psychologists on Google Scholar. Retrieved September 15, 2012 .
  5. a b c d Michael Billig: Psychology, Racism & Fascism . Ed .: Andrew S. Winston. 1979 ( psychology.uoguelph.ca [accessed September 15, 2012]).
  6. John Philippe Rushton : A scientometric appreciation of HJ Eysenck's contributions to psychology . In: Personality and Individual Differences . tape 31 , no. 1 . Elsevier, London (Ontario) 2001, pp. 21 , doi : 10.1016 / S0191-8869 (00) 00235-X ( psychology.uwo.ca [PDF; 223 kB ; accessed on September 24, 2012]).
  7. ^ William H. Honan: Hans J. Eysenck, 81, a Heretic In the Field of Psychotherapy . In: The New York Times . September 10, 1997 ( nytimes.com ).
  8. a b King’s College London inquiry into publications authored by Professor Hans Eysenck with Professor Ronald Grossarth-Maticek. (PDF) King's College London , May 2019, accessed on November 2, 2019 .
  9. a b Sarah Boseley: Work of renowned UK psychologist Hans Eysenck ruled 'unsafe' . In: The Guardian . October 11, 2019, ISSN  0261-3077 ( theguardian.com [accessed November 2, 2019]).
  10. ^ Roderick D. Buchanan: Playing With Fire: The Controversial Career of Hans J. Eysenck . Oxford University Press 2010, ISBN 978-0-19-856688-5 , pp. 15, 26 .
  11. ^ Hans J. Eysenck: Rebel With A Cause (an Autobiography) . WH Allen & Co., London 1990, p. 80.
  12. HJ Eysenck: The inequality of people . Orion Heimreiter Verlag , Kiel 1984, ISBN 3-89093-100-6 , p. 245 .
  13. Hans Jürgen Eysenck, Die inequality of people, Goldmann, Munich 1975, p. 12.
  14. Dizziness with twins . In: Der Spiegel . No. 42 , 1978 ( online ).
  15. P. Netter, J. Hennig: Biological personality theories . In: H. Weber and Th. Rammsayer (eds.): Handbook of Personality Psychology and Differential Psychology . tape 2 , 2005, ISBN 3-8017-1855-7 , pp. 71 ff .
  16. EPI in the process database at iqpr - Institute for Quality Assurance in Prevention and Rehabilitation GmbH
  17. Comparison of EPI and psychoticism scales with measures of the five-factor model of personality., McCrae, Robert R .; Costa, Paul T., Personality and Individual Differences, Vol 6 (5), 1985.
  18. ^ HJ Eysenck: Grawe and the effectiveness of psychotherapy: some comments . In: Psychological Rundschau . tape 44 , 1993, pp. 177-180 .
  19. Heaven time for talent
  20. Jens Mecklenburg : What to do against the right . Espresso-Verlag, Berlin 2002, p. 456 f .
  21. ^ A b Siegfried Jäger: The Singer Discourse as well as some remarks on its function for strengthening racist and right-wing extremist discourses in the Federal Republic of Germany . In: Siegfried Jäger , Jobst Paul (ed.): From people and pigs. The Singer Discourse and its Role for Neo-Racism . Diss-texts No. 13. Duisburg 1991, p. 7–30 ( diss-duisburg.de [accessed November 1, 2012]).
  22. ^ Hans-Jürgen Eysenck: Freud - savior or charlatan? In: National-Zeitung No. 18 of April 27, 1990, p. 7.
  23. a b Leonie Knebel, Pit Marquardt: The attempt to prove the inequality of people . In: Michael Haller , Martin Niggeschmidt (Hrsg.): The myth of the decline of intelligence: From Galton to Sarrazin: The thought patterns and thinking errors of eugenics . Springer , Wiesbaden 2012.
  24. Pierre Krebs (ed.): The imperishable legacy. Alternatives to the principle of equality . Tübingen 1981, ISBN 3-87847-051-7 .
  25. ^ Roger Griffin : The Nature of Fascism . St. Martins Press, New York 1991, ISBN 0-312-07132-9 ( limited preview in Google Book Search).
  26. Peter Kratz: The Gods of the New Age: At the intersection of "New Thinking", fascism and romanticism . Elefanten Press Verlag, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-88520-511-4 .
  27. ^ Tomislav Sunić : Against Democracy and Equality - The European New Right . 3. Edition. Arktos Media, 2011, ISBN 1-907166-25-4 , pp. 141 ff .
  28. Linda Gottfredson: Mainstream Science on Intelligence . In: Wall Street Journal . December 13, 1994, p. A18 .
  29. Hans Jürgen Eysenck: Inheritance, intelligence and education: To the criticism of the pedagogical milieu theory . Seewald , Stuttgart 1976, p. 8.
  30. ^ Priori: Anthony Pelosi
  31. ^ Anthony J Pelosi: Personality and fatal diseases: Revisiting a scientific scandal . In: Journal of Health Psychology . tape 24 , no. 4 , February 22, 2019, ISSN  1359-1053 , p. 421-439 , doi : 10.1177 / 1359105318822045 , PMID 30791726 , PMC 6712909 (free full text).
  32. Patrick Imhasly: Hans Eysenck - an icon of psychology is falling apart. In: www.nzz.ch. November 2, 2019, accessed November 3, 2019 .
  33. https://www.krebs-chancen.de/denunziation/ Statement from Professor Grossarth-Maticek regarding the latest denunciation based on an interview with Bojan Godina on June 5, 2019. On: krebs-chancen.de , June 5, 2019
  34. Ivan Oransky: Journal retracts 30-year-old paper by controversial psychologist Hans Eysenck. In: Retraction Watch . January 21, 2020, accessed January 22, 2020 (American English).
  35. Author Ivan Oransky: Journal retract 13 papers by Hans Eysenck, flag 61, some 60 years old. In: Retraction Watch. February 12, 2020, Retrieved February 13, 2020 (American English).
  36. ^ Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine: Expression of concern: Articles by Hans J. Eysenck. In: Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. Online publication July 6, 2020, doi: 10.1177 / 0141076820941361 .
    International Journal of Social Psychiatry: Expression of Concern. In: International Journal of Social Psychiatry. Online publication from Jul 4, 2020, doi: 10.1177 / 0020764020925650 .
    Misconduct allegations push psychology hero off his pedestal. On: sciencemag.org from July 15, 2020.