New JHBS: The Business of the TAT, Psychological Warfare, and More

The Summer 2020 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Science is now online. Full details below.

“From achievement to power: David C. McClelland, McBer & Company, and the business of the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), 1962–1985,” Matthew J. Hoffarth. Abstract:

During the 1960s, Harvard psychologist David McClelland focused his research and business endeavors on increasing the need for achievement in small businesspeople, with the goal of fostering economic success in the developing world. However, by the early 1970s, McClelland would focus almost entirely on developing executives’ need for power in the United States. In this paper, I argue that underlying this shift was McClelland’s dedication to the project of behavioral engineering and a newfound belief that training individuals in the responsible exercise of leadership and managerial power had become the most effective path to achieving his liberal political aims.

“A tale of four countries: How Bowlby used his trip through Europe to write the WHO report and spread his ideas,” Frank C. P. van der Horst Karin Zetterqvist Nelson Lenny van Rosmalen René van der Veer. Abstract:

Attachment theory, developed by child psychiatrist John Bowlby, is considered a major theory in developmental psychology. Attachment theory can be seen as resulting from Bowlby’s personal experiences, his psychoanalytic education, his subsequent study of ethology, and societal developments during the 1930s and 1940s. One of those developments was the outbreak of World War II and its effects on children’s psychological wellbeing. In 1950, Bowlby was appointed WHO consultant to study the needs of children who were orphaned or separated from their families for other reasons and needed care in foster homes or institutions. The resulting report is generally considered a landmark publication in psychology, although it subsequently met with methodological criticism. In this paper, by reconstructing Bowlby’s visit to several European countries, on the basis of notebooks and letters, the authors shed light on the background of this report and the way Bowlby used or neglected the findings he gathered.

“Uncovering the metaphysics of psychological warfare: The social science behind the Psychological Strategy Board’s operations planning, 1951–1953,” Gabrielle Kemmis. Abstract:

In April 1951 president Harry S. Truman established the Psychological Strategy Board to enhance and streamline America’s sprawling psychological warfare campaign against the USSR. As soon as the Board’s staff began work on improving US psychological operations, they wondered how social science might help them achieve their task. Board Director, Gordon Gray, asked physicist turned research administrator Henry Loomis to do a full review of America’s social science research program in support of psychological operations. Loomis willingly accepted the task. This paper documents Loomis’s investigation into America’s social science research program. It uncovers the critical role that government departments had in the creation of research in the early 1950s and thus highlights that the government official is an important actor in the history of social science and the application of social science to psychological operations at the beginning of the Cold War.

“At the borders of the average man: Adolphe Quêtelet on mental, moral, and criminal monstrosities,” Filippo Maria Sposini. Abstract:

This study examines Adolphe Quêtelet’s conception of deviance. It investigates how he identified social marginalities and what actions he recommended governments to undertake. To get a close understanding of his views, this paper examines three cases of “monstrosities,” namely mental alienation, drunkenness, and criminality. My main thesis is that Quêtelet provided scientific authority to a conception of deviance as sickness, immorality, and cost thus encouraging legislators to use statistics for containing social marginalities. The case of alienation shows that Quêtelet viewed insanity as a pathology of civilization to be understood through phrenology. The case of drunkenness demonstrates how Quêtelet conflated the notion of statistical mean with moral decency. The case of criminality illustrates Quêtelet’s major concern with the cost of criminals for the state. While advocating for the perfectibility of mankind, Quêtelet urged governments to take actions against what he considered the monstrosities of society.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.