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The term historiometry was introduced by Woods (1911: 568) to describe "that class of researches in which the facts of history have been subjected to statistical treatment according to some method of measurement more or less objective or impersonal in nature." Simonton (1990: 3) defines historiometry as "scientific discipline in which nomothetic hypotheses about human behavior are tested by applying quantitative analysis data concerning historical individuals." Central topics of the historiometric approach to creativity includes the developmental psychology of exceptional creativity (life-span study of illustrious creators); the foundation of creativity (birth order, intellectual precocity, childhood trauma, family background, educational and special training, role of mentors and masters); the manifestation of creativity (change of creative styles through age, differential and social psychology of phenomenal creativity).
Normally historiometry concentrates on historical rather than contemporary subjects. As Simonton (1984: 17) explains, "One rationale for this focus is that exploitation of historical populations may maximize our ability to discover any transhistorically invariant laws of creativity and leadership. Hypotheses about the nature of genius should be tested on samples with the maximum amount of cultural and historical variety, if a behavioral law holds across such diversity, then it has the highest probability of universal validity." However, he notes (ibid.: 18), "historiometricians do not always study just dead people: as the hypotheses permit, the subjects can be very much alive. Creators and leaders can make history in their own lifetimes."
The principle that "eminence is the best indicator of historical genius" applies to both contemporary creators as well. People who were honoured by inclusion in Who's Who, an encyclopedia, a historical treatise, or even a biography "can be treated like any eminent figure of the past" (ibid.) Other criteria are Citation Indices (in sciences, politics, arts, etc.), the size of the audience (for TV, cinema, media), sales level, the percentage of the general repertoire, etc.
The key aim of historiometry, according to Simonton (ibid., 24) is "objective generalization, to reduce the bewildering array of historical facts into a much smaller set of abstract statements about how a special class of individuals come to reorder the direction of human history."
See also: Nomothetic studies, Laws of historiometry.
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