Guttman, Louis

views updated


GUTTMAN, LOUIS (Eliahu ; 1916–1987), sociologist. Born in New York, he was educated at the University of Minnesota, where he taught from 1936 to 1940. From 1941 to 1950 he taught at Cornell University; during the years 1941–45 he also served as an expert consultant to the U.S. War Department in the information and education division. A member of the Labor Zionist movement from his early youth, Guttman moved to Israel in 1947, where he founded and became the director of the Israel Institute of Applied Social Research, a position he held throughout his life. The institute was later renamed the Louis Guttman Institute of Applied Social Research. He was appointed professor at the Hebrew University in 1954, where he taught social and psychological assessment. Guttman's reputation rests on his work in methodology. The Guttman scale, which is described in "A Revision of Chapin's Social Status Scale," American Sociological Review (1942), ranks items in such a way that the statements appearing at the top of the scale must also check all the preceding ones. This is done by taking a number of random samples of population and then ranking the statements in the order in which they are consistently chosen by the respondents. Other contributions by Guttman appeared in P. Horst (ed.), Prediction of Personal Adjustment (1941); S.A. Stouffer (ed.), Measurement and Prediction (1949); and in P.L. Lazarsfeld (ed.), Mathematical Thinking in the Social Sciences (1954). The last contains Guttman's original approach to testing-factor analysis, the radex. The major difference between the radex and older forms of factor analysis is that it deals with the order of the factors, not just the common factors. The radex involves the notion that there is a difference in kind and a difference in degree between the tests used for analysis.

In 1971, Guttman was listed in the journal Science as one of the 62 most important contributors to scientific research in the social sciences since the beginning of the 20th century. He was a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Stanford, 1955–56). Awards he received include the Rothschild Prize (1962); the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Regents of the University of Minnesota (1974); the Israel Prize in the social sciences (1978); and the Educational Testing Service Measurement Award from Princeton (1984).

Guttman wrote What Is Not in Statistics (1976); The Impact of Sadat in Jerusalem on the Israeli Jew (1977); and Theory Construction and Data Analysis in the Behavioral Sciences (with S. Shye, 1978).

add. bibliography:

Louis Guttman on Theory and Methodology: Selected Writings (1994); Louis Guttman in Memoriam: Chapters from an Unfinished Textbook on Facet Theory (1997).

[Werner J. Cahnman /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

About this article

Guttman, Louis

Updated About content Print Article Share Article