You Should Have Your Head Examined: The Phrenology Quiz


By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Why do we behave as we do, and does the shape of our forehead have anything to do with the shape of our character? Phrenologists thought so. Take this quiz to see how much you know about the pseudoscience and culture of phrenology.

What part of the body do phrenologists look closely at?

While physiognomists study facial features and palmists study the "fate line," phrenologists rely on the size and shape of the skull for their practice.


Who developed the theory behind phrenology?

German physician, anatomist and physiologist Franz Joseph Gall developed his theory in the early 19th century.


What is NOT part of phrenology?

Phrenologists study the shape of skull to determine personality and character traits.


Who popularized the word "phrenology"?

Johann Gaspar Spurzheim, Gall's contemporary and peer, is considered to have popularized the term.


What did Gall call phrenology?

Gall called it cranioscopy.


True or false: Phrenology was once considered a real science.

Phrenology was scientific study in the 19th century.


Who is credited with discovering part of the brain responsible for language?

While Pierre Paul Broca was not a phrenologist, his discovery (now called Broca's area of the brain) renewed interest in the idea.


What is the phrenologist's view of the brain?

Phrenologists see themselves as "compartmentalists," believing the brain was broken into localized sections with specific functions.


Which is NOT a basic tenet of Gall's theory?

All of these are tenets of Gall's theory of phrenology.


Today we know which is true: The skull conforms to the shape of the brain, or the shape of the brain conforms to the shape of the skull?

The shape of the brain reflects the skull's shape.


True or false: Phrenology was most popular in America.

While popular in Europe, phrenology was most popular among Americans.


Which word or phrase can trace its roots to phrenology?

All of these words and phrases can trace their roots to phrenology.


According to phrenology, brains are made up of what?

Phrenologists believe the brain is made up of organs, each controlling various personality traits.


True or false: According to phrenology, the larger the area of the brain, the larger that character trait?

This is true. Additionally, according to phrenology, you could exercise the "organs" of the brain.


Today we know the brain is which, an organ or a muscle?

While the brain controls your muscles, the brain is an organ.


What was the psychograph?

The psychograph was an automated phrenology machine that Henry Lavery patented around the turn of the 20th century.


How many measurements did the psychograph automatically take?

The psychograph took 32 measurements of the skull that were used to suggest prewritten, "canned" possibilities.


A bump located where would suggest a tendency to lie, cheat or steal?

A bump behind the ear, phrenology suggests, is a tendency to lie, cheat or steal.


Which sold more copies during the 19th century: Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" or George Combe's phrenological books?

During the 19th century, phrenology books sold more copies than "On the Origin of Species."


True or false: In the 1820s-1840s, it was common for employers to request each job candidate submit a character reference from a local phrenologist.

True, although it turns out it's about as helpful as knowing the color of your aura.


What would a well-developed aptitude for benevolence feel like on a skull?

A prominent bump on the forehead indicates well-developed benevolence.


According to Mr. Burns from "The Simpsons," Smithers has what skull attributes?

In Mr. Burns version of phrenology, Smithers has the "brainpan of a stagecoach tilter."


Which French scientist tested phrenological theories on animals and concluded Gall was wrong?

French scientist Marie Jean Pierre Flourens, after testing on animal brains, concluded Gall's theory was wrong and the brain was one unit.


True or false: Phrenologists once called their practice "the only true science of the mind."

Phrenologists in the 19th century may have thought a little too highly of themselves.


When did the tenets of phrenology begin to crumble under scientific criticism?

In 1808 the Institute of France concluded phrenology had no scientific basis, marking the beginning of science's inability to reproduce Gall's results.


By when in the 19th century was phrenology generally considered pseudoscience in the scientific community?

By the 1830s scientists generally considered phrenology pseudoscience.


Which pair began the American Phrenological Journal in 1838?

Brothers Lorenzo and Orson Fowler started the journal in 1838 (which was published until 1911).


In the 21st century, phrenologists are considered to be in the same line of work as which field?

Phrenology is now considered a pseudoscience, like astrology.


Who created the three-in-one theory psychognomy, based on phrenology, typology and graphology?

Through psychognomy, Belgian Paul Bouts kept phrenology alive in the 21st century.


True or false: Phrenology was practiced as scientific racism.

Some people used phrenology to promote racist ideologies, including colonization and slavery.


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