By Philip Corr

Corr, P. J. (2016). Hans Eysenck: A Contradictory Psychology. London: Palgrave. Click here to go to Amazon

Psychologists' reviews of the book

“The writing is simple and easy to read, the coverage is comprehensive, and the biography conveys a three-dimensional picture of this most complex and enigmatic of psychologists.” Professor Andrew Colman, University of Leicester

“Philip Corr's enjoyable book on this giant of psychology is neither hagiography nor demolition job. It is fair. Corr celebrates and criticises Eysenck's work, and helps us to understand the man who was and is both hero and villain.” Professor Ian Deary, University of Edinburgh  

“An amazing scientific biography of Hans Eysenck – so comprehensive, relevant, quotable, inspirational, and written in my favorite style.  The biographer left me a space to form my own opinion on Eysenck, my “own sub-title of his biography”. This is a must read!” Professor Małgorzata Fajkowska, Institute of Psychology, Polish Academy of Sciences

“This is a very important and very well written book. It is more than a psycho-biography and I found it quite “un-put-downable”. Philip Corr has been meticulous in this research and has written a fascinating and very balanced account of a complex and brilliant psychologist.” Professor Adrian Furnham, University College London 

“An illuminating and incisive book: Philip Corr masterfully captures the complex and contrary genius of Hans Eysenck. This biographical account of one of the giants of twentieth century psychology reveals the person and the science, and the passions that both provoked.” Professor Gerald Matthews, University of Central Florida

“This book is fascinating reading for anyone interested in the topic of personality as it shows how Hans Eysenck overcame decades of adversity to forge the science of personality as we know it today.” Dr Adam Perkins, King’s College London 

“The author, Philip Corr, is a world-leading personality researcher and someone who knew Eysenck well, allowing him to give a rare integration of Eysenck's personal and professional biography. Readers will discover clear and informed evaluations of Eysenck’s intellectual and social contributions, along with personal insights obtained from both direct experience and discussions with those who knew him best.” Dr Arthur Poropat, Griffith University, Australia

"Hans Eysenck was an extraordinary man and scientist and touched many areas of psychological science during his career. Prof Philip Corr, a leading authority in a number of the research areas in which Eysenck so powerfully stamped his own mark, has done an admirable job bringing the many facets of Hans Eysenck's professional and personal worlds together in this thoughtful and informative volume." Dr Gary Lewis, University of York

A centennial article in The Psychologist

Corr, P.  J. (2016). The centenary of a maverick: Philip J. Corr on the life and work of Hans J. Eysenck. The Psychologist, 29 (March). Download here

Corr, P. J. (2016). Sometimes you need a pariah. Times Higher Education, 31 March, 2016. Download here

Corr, P. J. (2016). Has history proved Eysenck right about genes and IQ? The Conversation (10 March, 2016). Click here

For an (published) article by Philip Corr, on the importance of the contrarian voice in academia in terms of long-term impact, and how some people attempt to silence it, read this

Eysenck Material

Below are information, web links and materials to support my biography of Professor Hans Eysenck, who was one of the leading psychologists of the twentieth Century.

There are several videos of Eysenck on the Hans Eysenck on the internet, which shows his style (click on highlighted links):

1. A 1980 lecture on his personality theory

2. A 1994 lecture on smoking and cancer

3. A talk on his views on psychoanalysis, smoking, cancer and personality, and much else (including the role of the rebel in science)

4. The 1994 BBC programme, Heretics: background to race-IQ debate  and Hans Eysenck speaking about his role in this heated debate

5. A public lecture on IQ and race, and criticisms from leading genetists, and a sociologist and psychologist - filmed at the Royal Institution

6. Interesting 1980 interview with Eysenck which range from discussion of intelligence testing, behaviour therapy and free will.

7. Participation in a television programme on the topic of religion (Eysenck speaks from 9.30 - in this clip, the famous philosopher, A. J.Ayer, says that he 'entirely agrees' with Eysenck's view of the man-made nature of God)

Also, to read why Hans Eysenck resigned from the Experimental psychology Society in the 1950s.

An ingenious lemon juice test of introversion-extraversion.

(The original experiment was published in Eysenck, S. B. G. & Eysenck, H. J. (1967). Salivary response to lemon juice as a measure of introversion. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 24, 1047-1053.)

Professor William Revelle of Northwestern University, USA, giving the Hans Eysenck Lecture in 2013 at the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences (ISSID) - this gives a good overview of Eysenck's scientific approach.

Creativity and Mental Illness

The notion that creativity and madness are associated is an old idea, and Eysenck's theory of creativity/genius provides a neuropsychologcial explanation for it. Recently, this association has been found in an impressive study that was published in one of leading science journals.

Power, R. A. et al. (2015). Polygenic risk scores for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder predict creativity. Nature Neuroscience, 18, 953–955.

Summary of paper: This study tested whether genetic risk scores for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are related to creativity. The results found that, indeed, higher risk scores were associated with artistic society membership or creative profession in both Icelandic, for both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. These associations could not be accounted for by increased relatedness between creative individuals and those with psychoses, indicating that creativity and psychosis share genetic roots.

Demonstrating once more than success has many fathers (and mothers!), but failure is an orphan, there are 28 authors on this paper!

Smoking, Cancer and Personality

Eysenck's work on the respective roles played by personality and smoking in cancer and other diseases was and remains highly contentious. In this section you will find some documents of historical value.

For the launch of Eysenck's 1980 book, click here

For Professor Richard Peto's press release to journalists attending this book launch, click here

For a summary of the epidemiology literature, click here for the 1981 Doll and Peto paper.

Eysenck appeared on a BBC TV programme in 1980 to discuss this topic with Professor Richard Peto - this can be seen here.


The controversy surrounding Eysenck's work continues. Here is a 2021 presentation by Tony Pelosi on what he considers - with some justification - to be the one of the biggest scandals in psychology especially as it is related to physical health: Dr. Anthony Pelosi | Personality and fatal diseases; exposing a scientific scandal of Hans Eysenck - YouTube

Correction to the Historical Record

In various places in social media and national newpapers - e.g., Guardian podcast: Taking on Eysenck: one man's mission to challenge a giant of psychology – Science Weekly podcast | Science | The Guardian - errors and misperceptions have crept in. In relation to this podcast, here is a statement of what actually took place.

For clarity of the historical record, I was the Editor of the 2016 Special Issue of the Journal Personality and Individual Differences (PAID), referenced by Professor (Tony) Pelosi in this broadcast. I welcomed Tony’s criticisms of Eysenck’s work (indeed, encouraged it) for the simple reason that his points were well made and highly important, and really deserved airing in the scientific literature – and where better than in a journal founded by Eysenck himself. I worked with Tony to revise his paper, not for the critical content but for the tone which verged on the unacceptable in an academic journal. As things turned out, Tony insisted that he would not remove his comments on Eysenck’s character which were no more than personal opinion – we need to remember that at the time, there was no proof that Eysenck deliberately fabricated the data on personality and cancer/CHD (and nor is there to this day). (I agree with Tony, though, that not only were these data “too good to be true”, they could not be true and something was terribly wrong with them – I address these matters in detail in my 2016 biography of Eysenck.) Elsevier (the publisher of PAID) referred Tony’s paper to their lawyers. Their counsel was that, due to the personal accusations contained therein, it was not suitable for publication - against my own judgement. It is important to emphasis that the decision to decline publication was not made on the basis of the scientific criticisms of Eysenck’s work (this is one possible, but quite inaccurate, ‘take-away’ from this broadcast), which I thought then and still do, were/are very well founded (there were also serious ethical concerns with the treatment of the patients in the series of studies reported by Eysenck). I only wished Tony felt able to moderate his accusations of Eysenck’s motivations, behaviour and character, and that his paper could have been included in this special issue, especially as it would have served the purpose of condemning Eysenck’s work in this specific area on scientific grounds which is what really counts and would have hurt Eysenck’s reputation the most (he was used to personal insults, and if anything encouraged them). Tony’s personal accusations added nothing to (indeed, might be said to distract from) his otherwise highly accurate and important critique.





© 2024 Philip Corr. Sitemap | Website design by Affinity