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A Biography of Jack W. Dunlap

by Kim Johnson
University of South Florida
May 2016

Jack W. Dunlap was born on August 11, 1902. After earning his master’s degree in 1926 from Stanford University, Dunlap taught for several years at the Territorial Normal and Training School in Honolulu, Hawaii. During this time he engaged his interest and talent for statistics, deriving many formulas regarding standard errors of various statistics.

Dunlap returned to school and received his PhD from Columbia University in 1931; his dissertation was a human factors study on the design of automobiles. After earning his PhD he taught at Fordham University, followed by the University of Rochester. He developed the Academic Preferences Blank in 1940 while at the University of Rochester.

During World War II, Dunlap initially worked with John Jenkins in the Navy Aviation Psychology Program, a project concerning the selection and training of pilots. He went on to join the Navy and continued his work in aviation psychology until he retired as a captain in 1946.  After the war, Dunlap worked for two years for The Psychological Corporation.

In 1948, he formed his own company, Dunlap and Associates, which focused on applying psychological principles to solving human factors problems in engineering. The company worked on projects such as emergency medical care, highway safety, agricultural economics, and flight simulators. Dunlap and Associates was tremendously successful. Dunlap served as President of the company until 1966 and Chairman until 1970, and he remained a director into his retirement.

Dunlap was an editor of the Journal of Experimental Education, the Journal of Educational Psychology, and Psychometrika.He served as president of the Human Factors Society and the Psychometrics Society, as well as three APA Divisions, including serving as the sixth president of Division 14, now known as the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, from 1950-1951.

Dunlap and his wife Hilda had one son, Jack William Dunlap, who served as President of Dunlap and Associates after his father’s retirement. Jack W. Dunlap died on May 8th, 1977 at the age of 74.


Benjamin, L.T., Jr. (October 1997). The Early Presidents of Division 14: 1945- 1954. The Industrial Psychologist. Retrieved from           http://www.siop.org/tip/backissues/tipoct97/BENJAM~1.aspx

Kurtz, A.K. (1979). Obituary: Jack W. Dunlap. American Psychologist, 34(6), 538.