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Warren S. Torgerson, 74, professor who studied psychological measurement


Warren S. Torgerson, a professor emeritus of psychology at the Johns Hopkins University who was internationally known for his work in psychological measurement, died Monday at Johns Hopkins Hospital after surgery resulting from a fall at his home in Fallston. He was 74.

In 1964, Dr. Torgerson was appointed professor of psychology at Hopkins, and served as chairman of the department until 1969. He continued to teach quantitative psychology and the history of psychology until retiring in 1997.

After retiring, Dr. Torgerson could still be found at the university, working on psychological scaling and the measurement of pain. As a consultant on ergonomics for the Army, he evaluated night-vision goggles.

He received his doctorate in psychology in 1951 from Princeton University, where he developed a method of psychological measurement and published his book, "Theory and Methods of Scaling."

Scaling deals with the measurement of sensations or perceptions, explained Dr. Bert F. Green, a fellow psychology professor at Hopkins and friend of Dr. Torgerson for 50 years.

"His early book is still widely cited as a major codification of that material," said Dr. Green. "He was a brilliant man with a great wealth of knowledge not only of psychology, but of other things, such as horticulture."

In 1997, Dr. Torgerson received an award from the American Psychological Association for lifetime contributions in evaluation, measurement and statistics.

Nicknamed "Torg," he was a native of Hawley, Minn., where he was valedictorian of his high school class in 1942. He enlisted in the Navy during World War II, but continued his studies and in 1947 earned his bachelor's degree in meteorology at the California Institute of Technology.

With the Navy reserves, he served as a meteorological officer at San Francisco, Guam, and the Admiralty Islands, and after earning his doctorate he spent three years in San Diego heading a naval statistical-analysis division.

He joined the faculty of the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1955. Two years later, he joined MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, where he was a pioneer in ergonomics and worked extensively on problems of man-and-machine communication.

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

A memorial service for Dr. Torgerson, who donated his body, will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday at the Johns Hopkins Club on the Homewood campus.

In 1979, he married the former Lora Lee Savage, who survives him, along with a daughter, Kristen Larson Greenberg of Pittsburgh; a son, Richard Torgerson of Randallstown; a sister, Patricia Alden Berg of Tucson, Ariz.; and two grandchildren. He is also survived by his former wife, the former Lorraine Almquist of Baltimore, whom he married in 1948.

Pub Date: 2/07/99

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