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The Cattell Controversy

Race, Science, and Ideology

William H. Tucker

Publication Year: 2009

Raymond Cattell, the father of personality trait measurement, was one of the most influential psychologists in the twentieth century, with a professional career that spanned almost seventy years. In August 1997, the American Psychological Association announced that Cattell had been selected the recipient of the American Psychological Foundation Gold Medal Award for Life Achievement in Psychological Science. Then, only two days before the scheduled ceremony, the APF abruptly postponed the presentation of the award due to concerns involving Cattell's views on racial segregation and eugenics. In addition to his mainstream research, in his publications Cattell had also posited evolutionary progress as the ultimate goal of human existence and argued that scientific criteria should be used to distinguish "successful" from "failing" racial groups so that the latter might be gradually "phased out" by non-violent methods such as regulation of birth control._x000B__x000B_The Cattell Controversy discusses the controversy that arose within the field in response to the award's postponement, after which Cattell withdrew his name from consideration for the award but insisted that his position had been distorted by taking statements out of context. Reflecting on these events, William H. Tucker concludes with a discussion of the complex question of whether and how a scientist's ideological views should ever be a relevant factor in determining the value of his or her contributions to the field.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Front Cover

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Title Page

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pp. iv

Copyright Page

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pp. v

Table of Contents

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pp. viii

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pp. x-xi

Discharged from the U.S. Army only two weeks earlier, in September 1965 I registered for my first college course in psychology, Theories of Personality, taught by Professor Leland (“Bud”) Bechtel. In addition to the work of such well-known names as Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, and Gordon Allport, Bud introduced me to the factor...

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Introduction: "A Fierce Wind"

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pp. 1-19

Every college student who has taken a course in personality psychology has heard of Raymond Cattell, the father of trait measurement. Although his name is not particularly familiar to the public—not even to fairly well-read people unless they happen to have majored in psychology as undergraduates— Cattell’s enormous body of work has made major contributions to...

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1. Factor Analysis and Its Discontents: Cattellian Science

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pp. 21-62

Harold Bloom, the well-known literary critic and staunch defender of the traditional canon, maintains that Shakespeare invented human personality. More than three centuries would pass from the Bard’s time, however, before science—more specifically, the newly created field concerned with human behavior—began systematic attempts to understand how his invention...

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2. In the Name of Evolution: The Beginning of Cattell's Moral System

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pp. 63-102

A classically educated scientist for whom there was no gap between the “two cultures,” Cattell was always intellectually curious and would never disparage knowledge for its own sake, but his scientific efforts were equally motivated by more practical, humanitarian concerns. Having observed in his youth both the heartrending sacrifices of the Great War and the wretchedness of...

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3. Beyondism and the Necessity for "Genthanasia": Cattellian Morality in the Postwar Period

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pp. 103-138

Despite Cattell’s intense interest in the subject of intellectual deterioration, The Fight for Our National Intelligence—a project conducted for a specific purpose under the auspices of the Eugenics Society—was nevertheless a diversion from the major focus of his research: human personality. The latter interest no less than the former was intended to serve his scientifically...

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4. The Cattell Convention: The Controversy over the Award

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pp. 139-166

Every August the American Psychological Association holds its annual convention, an opportunity for thousands of psychologists, professional and academic, to gather in formal and informal groups in order to present their own research, discuss issues of concern to both researchers and practitioners, and listen to invited talks by some of the most distinguished members of...

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Conclusion: Science, Awards, and Ideology

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pp. 167-196

In response to the charges that Cattell’s work had encouraged racism, many of his supporters emphasized his warmth and personal decency; this was a good person, they emphasized, who had never displayed ethnic prejudice of any kind, responding to everyone as an individual. “In conversation,” recalled Richard Gorsuch—a clergyman as well as an APA fellow, who had been a civil rights...


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pp. 197-240


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pp. 241-254

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780252092671
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252034008

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2009