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Nomothetic studies

Nomothetic studies of historical figures (that is, studies of groups). These are normally studies of historical figures usually selected and ranked according to the amount of space allotted to them in biographical dictionaries and encyclopaedias. Galton (1869; 1874) used this method for selecting his scientific and literary subjects. James McKeen Cattle (1903) adopted it, ranking the top 1000 people mentioned in at least two of six American, English, French and German biographical dictionaries. Havelock Ellis (1904/1926) 900 selected subjects from The dictionary of national biography. Subsequent several investigations were based on the same, or parts on the same samples. For examples, Cox (1926) used parts of Cattel's (1903) samples; R. K. White (1931) selected subjects from both Cox's and Ellis's samples; later McCurdy (1960) selected from Cox's sample, and (much later) Walberg, Rasher and Hase (1978) and Simonton (1984) re-evaluated Cox's data. Nomothetic studies are used in the historiometric approach. The critique of this method concerns the fact that it usually lacks a control group and that studies of historical figures are therefore often merely descriptive.

Nomothetic studies. Dictionary of Creativity: Terms, Concepts, Theories & Findings in Creativity Research / Compiled and edited by Eugene Gorny., 2007.
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