Myers, Charles Samuel

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MYERS, CHARLES SAMUEL (1873–1946), British psychologist. Born in London, Myers was educated at the City of London School and Cambridge. He became a physician and, on taking his degree, immediately left on an anthropological expedition to Torres Strait and Borneo with W.H.R. Rivers, the founder and first director of the Cambridge Psychological Laboratory. The successful expedition returned the following year with data on hearing, smell, taste, reaction time, rhythms, and music of the local population. In 1900 he spent some time in Egypt, studying hieroglyphics, excavating, and taking anthropometric measurements in Cairo and Khartoum. On returning to Cambridge he was appointed to the psychological laboratory where, after considerable opposition, he succeeded Rivers. He published his Textbook of Experimental Psychology in 1909 (19253). It was the first text to have laboratory exercises and to treat statistics for psychology students. There was also a briefer Introduction to Experimental Psychology, which he published in 1911 (19253). Myers held the posts of professor in experimental psychology at King's College, London (1906–09), and also held a variety of positions at Cambridge, where, in 1921–22, he was reader in experimental psychology.

During his stay in Cambridge, Myers conducted research on primitive music, synesthesia, auditory localization, and individual differences among listeners to music. He helped to found the British Journal of Psychology in 1904 and edited it from 1911 to 1924. The new psychological laboratory at Cambridge, established in 1912, was made possible by a grant which he made anonymously. He was elected secretary and, in 1920, president of the British Psychological Society.

Myers' interest in applied psychology was initiated in World War i, when he was the first to recognize shell shock as an essentially psychological condition and to treat it by psychotherapy. He had secured a commission in the Royal Army Medical Corps. In 1922 he resigned his post at Cambridge and went to London to establish the National Institute of Industrial Psychology, where work was conducted on tests of mechanical ability, manual dexterity, performance measures of general intelligence, problems of attention, and industrial fatigue. Myers became the driving force in British applied psychology and helped to gain official recognition for psychological practitioners. He was widely honored for his work. Although his desire to occupy the first chair in psychology at Cambridge was not fulfilled, he exerted considerable influence on the next generation of British psychologists through his students and his textbooks. He also wrote: Psychology (1910), Mind and Work (1920, 19212), Industrial Psychology (1926), Ten Years of Industrial Psychology: An Account of the First Decade of the National Institute of Industrial Psychology (1932).


T.H. Pear, in: American Journal of Psychology, 60 (1947), 289–96. add. bibliography: odnb online.

[Helmut E. Adler]