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Hans Jürgen Eysenck (March 4, 1916 – September 4, 1997) was a psychologist best remembered for his work on intelligence and personality, though he worked in a wide range of areas. At the time of his death, Eysenck was the living psychologist most frequently cited in science journals.[1]


Hans Eysenck

. He was married to his collaborator Sybil Eysenck, with whom he had four children. His son Michael Eysenck, from his first marriage to Margaret Davies, is himself a noted British psychologist

Life and work

Hans Eysenck was born in Berlin, Germany, but moved to England as a young man in the 1930s because of his opposition to the Nazi party. "My hatred of Hitler and the Nazis, and all they stood for, was so overwhelming that no argument could counter it."[2] Eysenck was the founding editor of the journal Personality and Individual Differences, and authored over 50 books and over 900 academic articles. He aroused intense debate with his controversial dealing with variation in IQ among racial groups (see race and intelligence).[3]

Eysenck was Professor of Psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry from 1955 to 1983. He received his PhD from the Department of Psychology at University College London (UCL) under the supervision of Professor Sir Cyril Burt with whom he had a tumultuous professional relationship throughout his working life.[4] He was a major contributor to the modern scientific theory of personality and a brilliant teacher who also played a crucial role in the establishment of behavioural treatments for mental disorders. [5][6]

Hans Eysenck died of a brain tumor[7] in a London hospice in 1997[8].

Eysenck's work was often controversial. Examples of publications in which Eysenck's views have roused controversy include (chronologically):

  • A paper in the 1950s [1] concluding that available data "fail to support the hypothesis that psychotherapy facilitates recovery from neurotic disorder".
  • A chapter in Uses and Abuses of Psychology (1953) entitled "What is wrong with psychoanalysis".
  • Race, Intelligence and Education (1971) (in the US: The IQ Argument)
  • Sex, Violence and the Media (1978).
  • Astrology — Science or Superstition? (1982)
  • Smoking, Personality and Stress (1991)

Eysenck and the genetics of personality

In 1950, Eysenck's first empirical study into the genetics of personality was carried out with his student and associate Donald Prell. It was an experiment involving identical and fraternal twins, children who were given a battery of tests relevant to the concept of neuroticism. It is described in detail it an article published in the Journal of Mental Science. Eysenck and Prell concluded: "that the factor of neuroticism is not a statistical artifact, but constitutes a biological unit which is inherited as a whole....neurotic predisposition is to a large extent hereditarily determined."[9]

Eysenck was criticised for accepting funding from the Pioneer Fund, an organization that funds hereditarian research.[10] By far the most acrimonious of the debates has been that over the role of genetics in IQ differences (see intelligence quotient#Genetics vs environment), which led to Eysenck famously being punched on the nose during a talk at the London School of Economics.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

In his autobiography Rebel with a Cause (Transaction Publishers (1997), ISBN 1-56000-938-1) Eysenck stated: "I always felt that a scientist owes the world only one thing, and that is the truth as he sees it. If the truth contradicts deeply held beliefs, that is too bad. Tact and diplomacy are fine in international relations, in politics, perhaps even in business; in science only one thing matters, and that is the facts."

Eysenck's model of personality (P–E–N)

Eysenck was one of the first psychologists to study personality with the method of factor analysis, a statistical technique introduced by Charles Spearman. Eysenck's results suggested two main personality factors. The first factor was the tendency to experience negative emotions, and Eysenck referred to it as neuroticism. The second factor was the tendency to enjoy positive events, especially social events, and Eysenck named it Extraversion. The two personality dimensions were described in his 1947 book Dimensions of Personality. It is common practice in personality psychology to refer to the dimensions by the first letters, E and N.

E and N provided a 2-dimensional space to describe individual differences in behaviour. An analogy can be made to how latitude and longitude describe a point on the face of the earth. Also, Eysenck noted how these two dimensions were similar to the four personality types first proposed by the Greek physician Hippocrates.

  • High N and High E = Choleric type
  • High N and Low E = Melancholic type
  • Low N and High E = Sanguine type
  • Low N and Low E = Phlegmatic type

The third dimension, psychoticism, was added to the model in the late 1970s, based upon collaborations between Eysenck and his wife, Sybil B. G. Eysenck,[11] who is the current editor of Personality and Individual Differences.

The major strength of Eysenck's model was to provide detailed theory of the causes of personality.[How to reference and link to summary or text] For example, Eysenck proposed that extraversion was caused by variability in cortical arousal: "introverts are characterized by higher levels of activity than extraverts and so are chronically more cortically aroused than extraverts".[12] While it seems counterintuitive to suppose that introverts are more aroused than extraverts, the putative effect this has on behaviour is such that the introvert seeks lower levels of stimulation. Conversely, the extravert seeks to heighten his or her arousal to a more optimal level (as predicted by the Yerkes-Dodson Law) by increased activity, social engagement and other stimulation-seeking behaviors.

Comparison with other theories

The major alternative to Eysenck's three-factor model of personality is a model that makes use of five broad traits, often called the Big Five model (see big five personality traits) (Costa & McCrae, 1998). The traits in the Big Five are as follows:

  1. Openness to experience
  2. Conscientiousness
  3. Extraversion
  4. Agreeableness
  5. Neuroticism

Extraversion and Neuroticism in the Big Five are similar to Eysenck's traits of the same name. However, what Eysenck calls the trait of Psychoticism corresponds to two traits in the Big Five model: Conscientiousness and Agreeableness. Eysenck's personality system did not address Openness to experience. He argued that his approach was a better description of personality (Eysenck, 1992a; 1992b).

Another important model of personality is that of Jeffrey Alan Gray, a former student of his.

Psychometric scales relevant to Eysenck's theory

Eysenck's theory of personality is closely linked with the scales that he and his co-workers developed. These include the Maudsley Medical Questionnaire, Eysenck Personality Inventory (EPI), Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ) and Sensation Seeking Scale (developed in conjunction with Marvin Zuckerman). The Eysenck Personality Profiler (EPP) breaks down different facets of each trait considered in the model. There has been some debate about whether these facets should include impulsivity as a facet of extraversion as Eysenck declared in his early work; or psychoticism. Eysenck declared for the latter, in later work.

Eysenck's later work

In 1994 he was one of 52 signatories on "Mainstream Science on Intelligence," an editorial written by Linda Gottfredson and published in the Wall Street Journal, which defended the findings on race and intelligence in The Bell Curve.[13]

Eysenck made early contributions to fields such as personality by express and explicit commitment to a very rigorous adherence to scientific methodology, as Eysenck believed that scientific methodology was required for progress in personality psychology. He used, for example, factor analysis, a statistical method, to support his personality model. An example is Inheritance of Neuroticism: An Experimental Study, quoted above. His early work showed Eysenck to be an especially strong critic of psychoanalysis as a form of therapy, preferring behaviour therapy. Despite this strongly scientific interest, Eysenck was not shy, in later work, of giving attention to parapsychology and astrology. Indeed, he believed that empirical evidence supported the existence of paranormal abilities.[14]

Selected works


Eysenck and his wife Sybil

  • Dimensions of Personality (1947)
  • The Scientific Study of Personality (1952)
  • The Structure of Human Personality (1952) and later editions
  • Uses and Abuses of Psychology (1953)
  • The Psychology of Politics (1954)
  • Psychology and the Foundations of Psychiatry (1955)
  • Sense and Nonsense in Psychology (1956)
  • The Dynamics of Anxiety and Hysteria (1957)
  • Perceptual Processes and Mental Illnesses (1957) with G. Granger and J. C. Brengelmann
  • Manual of the Maudsley Personality Inventory (1959)
  • Handbook of Abnormal Psychology (1960) editor, later editions
  • Experiments in Personality (1960) two volumes, editor
  • Behaviour Therapy and Neuroses (1960) editor
  • Know Your Own I.Q. (1962)
  • Experiments with Drugs (1963) editor
  • Experiments in Motivation (1964) editor
  • Crime and Personality (1964) and later editions
  • Manual of the Eysenck Personality Inventory (1964) with S. B. G. Eysenck
  • The Causes and Cures of Neuroses (1965) with S. Rachman
  • Fact and Fiction in Psychology (1965)
  • Smoking, Health and Personality (1965)
  • Check Your Own I.Q. (1966)
  • The Effects of Psychotherapy (1966)
  • The Biological Basis of Personality (1967)
  • Eysenck, H.J. & Eysenck, S.B.G. (1969). Personality Structure and Measurement. London: Routledge.
  • Readings in Extraversion/Introversion (1971) three volumes
  • Race, Intelligence and Education (1971) in US as The IQ Argument
  • Psychology is about People (1972)
  • Lexicon de Psychologie (1972) three volumes, with W. Arnold and R. Meili
  • The Inequality of Man (1973)
  • Eysenck on Extraversion (1973) editor
  • The Measurement of Intelligence (1973) editor
  • The Experimental Study of Freudian theories (1973) with G. D. Wilson
  • Case Histories in Behaviour Therapy (1974) editor
  • Know Your Own Personality (1975) with G. D. Wilson
  • Manual of the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (1975) with S. B. G. Eysenck
  • A Textbook of Human Psychology (1976) with G. D. Wilson
  • Sex and Personality (1976)
  • The Measurement of Personality (1976) editor
  • Eysenck, H.J. & Eysenck, S.B.G. (1976). Psychoticism as a Dimension of Personality. London: Hodder and Stoughton.
  • Reminiscence, Motivation and Personality (1977) with C. D. Frith
  • You and Neurosis (1977)
  • Die Zukunft der Psychologie (1977)
  • The Psychological Basis of Ideology (1978) editor, with G. D. Wilson
  • Sex Violence and the Media (1978) with D. Nias
  • The Structure and Measurement of Intelligence (1979)
  • The Psychology of Sex (1979) with G. D. Wilson
  • The Causes and Effects of Smoking (1980)
  • A Model for Personality (1981) editor
  • Mindwatching (1981) with M. W. Eysenck, and later editions
  • The Battle for the Mind (1981) with L. J. Kamin, in US as The Intelligence Controversy
  • Personality, Genetics and Behaviour (1982)
  • Explaining the Unexplained (1982) with Carl Sargent
  • H.J. Eysenck & D.K.B. Nias, Astrology: Science or Superstition? Penguin Books (1982) ISBN 0-14-022397-5
  • A Model for Intelligence (1982) editor
  • Know Your Own Psi-Q (1983) with Carl Sargent
  • …'I Do'. Your Happy Guide to Marriage (1983) with B. N. Kelly
  • Personality and Individual Differences: A Natural Science Approach (1985) with M. W. Eysenck
  • Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire (1985)
  • Rauchen und Gesundheit (1987)
  • Personality Dimensions and Arousal (1987) editor, with J. Strelau
  • Theoretical Foundations of Behaviour Therapy (1988) editor, with I. Martin
  • The Causes and Cures of Criminality (1989) with G. H. Gudjonsson
  • Genes, Culture and Personality: An Empirical Approach (1989) with L. Eaves and N. Martin
  • Suggestion and Suggestibility (1989) editor, with V. A. Gheorghiu, P. Netter, and R. Rosenthal
  • Intelligence: A New Look (1998)
  • Eysenck, H.J. (1992). A reply to Costa and McCrae. P or A and C — the role of theory. Personality and Individual Differences, 13, 867–868.
  • Eysenck, H.J. (1992). Four ways five factors are not basic. Personality and Individual Differences, 13, 667–673.


  1. Haggbloom, S.J. (2002). The 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century. Review of General Psychology, 6, 139–152.
  2. Eysenck, Hans J., Rebel With A Cause (an Autobiography), London: W. H. Allen & Co., 1990, p. 40
  3. Race, Intelligence and Education, London: MT Smith, 1971
  4. Ibid. pp. 118–119
  5. Behaviour Therapy and the Neurosis, Edited by Hans Eysesck, London: Pergamon Press, 1960
  6. Eysenck, Hans J., Experiments in Behaviour Therapy, London: Pergamon Press, 1964
  7. APA Presidents Remember: Hans Eysenck—Visionary Psychologist. URL accessed on 13 November 2008.
  8. Hans J. Eysenck. URL accessed on 13 November 2008.
  9. The Journal of Mental Health, July, 1951, Vol. XCVII, The Inheritance of Neuroticism: An Experimental Study, H. J. Eysenck and D. B. Prell, p. 402.
  11. e.g., Eysenck & Eysenck, 1969; 1976
  12. (Eysenck & Eysenck, 1985)
  13. Gottfredson, Linda (December 13, 1994). Mainstream Science on Intelligence. Wall Street Journal, p A18.
  14. Eysenck, H.J. (1957), Sense and Nonsense in Psychology, p.131.


  • Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1998). NEO PI-R inventaire de personnalité — Révisé. Paris: Edition de Centre de Psychologie Appliquée.

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