The Johns Hopkins Gazette: March 8, 1999
Mar. 8, 1999
VOL. 28, NO. 25


Warren S. Torgerson, Authority on Psychological Measurements, Dies at 74

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

Professor emeritus Warren S. Torgerson, an international authority on psychological measurements, died Feb. 1 at The Johns Hopkins Hospital following surgery in the aftermath of a fall in his home. He was 74.

Although he had retired in 1997, Torgerson continued to frequent the campus to work on psychological scaling and the measurement of pain. His measurements, developed at Princeton University while he was earning a doctorate, have been acclaimed as a significant contribution to the field.

"His early book (Theory and Methods of Scaling) is still widely cited as a major codification of that material," said Psychology Department colleague Bert Green, a friend for 50 years. "He was a brilliant man with a great wealth of knowledge, not only of psychology but of other things such as horticulture."

Nicknamed "Torg," the professor enjoyed a career at Hopkins spanning more than 30 years. During that time he served as chairman of the department and continued his research in scaling, or the measurement of sensations and their perception. In 1997, he was honored by the American Psychological Association for lifetime contributions in evaluation, measurement and statistics.

Born in Hawley, Minn., he graduated as valedictorian of his high school class and in 1942 enlisted in the Navy, an association he maintained as a reserve after the war as a meteorological officer in San Francisco and on Guam and the Admiralty islands.

He joined the faculty of the Sloan School of Management at MIT in 1955, and two years later joined MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, where he pioneered the study of ergonomics and worked extensively on human-and-machine communications.

Torgerson was a former president of the Psychometric Society and a member of the Society for Mathematical Psychology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

A memorial service was held at the Johns Hopkins Club.