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The Early Presidents of Division 14: 1945–1954

Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr.

Texas A&M University 

The early presidents of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Division on Industrial and Business Psychology, Division 14 (now the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology), had been part of the leadership of the American Association for Applied Psychology (AAAP). The AAAP was founded in 1937 and initially consisted of four sections. Section D was designated the Industrial and Business Psychology Section and was organized by Harold E. Burtt and Walter Van Dyke Bingham who served as the first two presidents of the Section. This section would become Division 14 of APA in 1945 when APA merged with AAAP (see Benjamin, in press). Nine of the first 10 Division 14 presidents had been active in AAAP’s Section D.

This article provides brief descriptions of each of the first 10 presidents of Division 14. These sketches describe the principal interests and accomp-lishments of the key leaders of the division in its initial decade and provide the reader with sources for additional information on each of these early presidents. A more detailed history of Division 14/SIOP can be found in Benjamin (1997) and in the January, 1997 issue of The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

Bruce Victor Moore (1891–1977), the first Division 14 president, had chaired several committees in the AAAP, including the Committee on Training that explored models for professional education and training. He earned his doctorate in psychology in 1921 at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in the Applied Psychology program that Walter Van Dyke Bingham had begun in 1915. Moore’s dissertation involved a selection test for Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company that differentiated engineers working in sales from those better suited to design. Moore followed up that work with the development of an interest questionnaire, a technique that E. K. Strong, Jr. would later develop into the Strong Vocational Interest Blank. In 1920, a year before finishing his doctorate, Moore accepted a faculty position at Pennsylvania State College (later University) where he remained until 1952, chairing the Department of Psychology for many of those years. His presidential address was entitled "The Work, Training, and Status of Supervisors as Reported by Supervisors in Industry." The study was based on an impressive data set of more than 600 questionnaires that were supplemented with more than 200 personal interviews of supervisors in a number of Pennsylvania industries. Among Moore’s many published works was a book co-authored with Bingham, entitled How to Interview (1931). That book went through three very successful editions (Bernreuter, 1979; Moore, 1961, no date).

The second of the Division 14 presidents was John Gamewell Jenkins (1901–1948), who was chair of the Psychology Department at the University of Maryland when elected president for 1946–1947. He earned his doctorate in psychology at Cornell University in 1929, although he had been teaching psychology at Iowa State College (later University) earlier. As an assistant professor at Cornell in 1935, Jenkins published Psychology in Business and Industry: An Introduction to Psychotechnology, a text that focused on psychological problems in selection, worker motivation, production, and market research. Jenkins left Cornell in 1937 to accept the chair’s job at Maryland. There he would build an excellent program in industrial psychology, hiring Edwin Ghiselli and Roger Bellows in his first 2 years. As the United States prepared for the possibility of war, Jenkins chaired the National Research Council Committee on Selection and Training of Aircraft Pilots in 1939–1940 and headed the research unit of that committee for another year. During the war he was in charge of the Aviation Psychology Section of the Navy, where he attained the rank of Captain. His very promising career was cut short by his suicide the year after he completed his Division 14 presidency (Anderson, 1996; Bennett, 1948a). 

George Kettner Bennett (1904–1975), who served 2 years as Secretary of Section D in the AAAP, was the third president, and the first to work exclusively in industry. He earned his doctorate in psychology at Yale University in 1935 under Clark L. Hull and went to work that year as Director of the Test Division of The Psychological Corporation, of which he became president in 1947. Bennett’s research focused on construction of aptitude tests, design of automatic communication devices, and evaluation of tests of scientific aptitude. At The Psychological Corporation, Bennett authored a number of published tests including ones for college readiness, hand-tool dexterity, mechanical ability and comprehension, and productive thinking. One of his most important works was the Differential Aptitude Tests, which he used for research purposes for many years (Bennett, Seashore, & Wesman, 1947). Bennett’s Division 14 presidential address noted industry’s increased interest in psychologists following World War II and called for industrial psychologists to seize the moment by enhancing their science, their code of ethics, and their public relations (Bennett, 1948b).

The fourth president, Floyd L. Ruch (1903–1982), was the last Secretary for Section D and the first Secretary of Division 14. Ruch served the full 3-year term as Secretary for Division 14 and then was elected president the next year, a pattern that would repeat itself many times. His presidential address was entitled "The psychologist testifies in trademark confusion cases." Ruch earned his Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University in 1930 under Walter Miles. After a postdoctoral year at the Sorbonne, he worked for several years in research positions for The Psychological Corporation and for the Opinion Research Corporation. At the University of Southern California (USC) he was chair of the program in business and industrial psychology from 1942 through 1968. During his tenure at USC he founded a consulting firm in 1952, Psychological Services, Inc., which he headed until his death. Ruch is probably best known for his enormously successful introductory psychology textbook, Psychology and Life, first published in 1937. That book is still in print today in subsequent editions by Philip Zimbardo and Richard Gerrig (Gobble, 1988; Tenopyr, 1983). 

Carroll Leonard Shartle (1903–1993) was head of Section D in 1945 at the time of the APA-AAAP merger and, as such, was appointed chair of the organizing committee for Division 14. He became the fifth president of the Division in 1949. He earned his Ph.D. in 1933 with Harold Burtt at Ohio State University. One of his earliest jobs was in the Occupational Research Program of the Department of Labor where in 1939 he produced the first Dictionary of Occupational Titles. After World War II, Shartle returned to the Ohio State campus where he initiated the Ohio State Leadership Studies at the Personnel Research Board. He remained there for his career except for several assignments that took him to government jobs in Washington, DC.

Shartle’s many publications included two books, Occupational Information (1946) and Executive Performance and Leadership (1956). When the Annual Review of Psychology began publication in 1950, Shartle was asked to write the first entry on industrial psychology for that inaugural volume (Shartle, 1950). His legacy to industrial psychology is considerable, especially in the areas of job analysis, job classification, job counseling, and leadership (Eyde & Brumback, 1994; Stead & Shartle, 1940; Shartle, no date).

The sixth president of the Division was Jack W. Dunlap (1902–1977), who also served as president of the Psychometric Society, the Human Factors Society, and two other APA divisions. He earned his doctorate at Columbia University in 1931, working with E. L. Thorndike; his dissertation was a human factors study on the design of automobiles. After graduation, Dunlap taught at Fordham University and the University of Rochester, where he developed the Academic Preferences Blank in 1940. During World War II he worked on the selection and training of pilots as part of the Navy Aviation Psychology Program where he worked with John Jenkins. After a brief tenure with The Psychological Corporation following the war, Dunlap started his own company, Dunlap and Associates, which he headed until his retirement in 1966. The company was quite successful, specializing principally in human factors work for industry and government on a variety of problems in highway safety, emergency medical care, and flight training (Kurtz, 1979).

When Marion Almina Bills (1890–1970) was elected the seventh president of the division in 1951, she was the second to work full time in industry and the first woman to hold any elected office in Division 14. (It would be 16 years before another woman was elected to any of the offices, when in 1967, Patricia C. Smith became a division representative to the APA Council of Representatives, and 28 years until another woman was elected president—Mary Tenopyr in 1979.) Bills, who earned her doctoral degree at Bryn Mawr College in 1917, spent a year at the University of Kansas as an assistant professor before joining the Bureau of Personnel Research at the Carnegie Institute of Technology where she worked from 1919 to 1923. In 1924 she took a job in personnel research with Aetna Life Affiliated in Hartford, Connecticut, eventually becoming an officer of the company from which she retired in 1955. Bills had served a 3-year term as the first Secretary of Section D from 1938 through 1940. In 1946 she was appointed by APA to the initial Committee on the American Board of Professional Examiners in Psychology, a committee instructed to prepare certification procedures for professional psychologists (Jenkins and Shartle were also on that nine-member committee). While at Aetna, Bills started a project to collect first-hand accounts of day-to-day life as a psychologist in industry. These 2-week diaries were to be used as a casebook to train psychologists for work in industry. They also formed the basis of her presidential address, emphasizing the expanding roles for psychologists in industry, particularly in management (see Austin, & Waung, 1995; Bills, 1953).

The eighth president was Jay Lester Otis (1907–1992) whose Ph.D. was earned with Morris Viteles at the University of Pennsylvania in 1936. In 1938 he accepted a faculty position at Western Reserve University where he became Director of the Personnel Research Institute. This institute was founded to provide services to businesses, primarily through personnel research (selection, turnover, transfer, promotion, attitude surveys) and to offer a laboratory experience for graduate students training in industrial psychology (see Otis, 1946). During the Second World War he was one of many psychologists who worked with Shartle in the Occupational Research Program of the Department of Labor, an experience that led to his book on job evaluation (Otis & Leukart, 1948). Otis’s research was in the fields of selection, job evaluation, employee attitudes, accident prevention, and vocational guidance. He retired from Case Western Reserve in 1972.

Harold A. Edgerton (1904– ), the ninth president, received his doctorate with Herbert A. Toops at Ohio State University in 1928. He remained at Ohio State until 1947, first as a research assistant and then as a faculty member. During the war he served as Director of the Occupational Opportunities Service from 1941–1945. It was also at this time that Edgerton began a 27-year consultantship with Science Service that led to the establishment of the Westinghouse Science Talent competition. He and Steuart H. Britt designed the selection instruments that were used in this prestigious competition for the next 40 years. In 1947, Edgerton left Ohio State to become Vice President of Richardson, Bellows, Henry, and Co. of New York, a consulting firm focused on industrial psychology. He left that company in 1962, having served as its president, to found his own consulting firm, Performance Research, Inc. in Washington, DC. He retired from that firm in 1970. Edgerton’s research focused on test construction, measurement of aptitudes, sales performance, and performance criterion measures (Edgerton, 1978). 

Edwin E. Ghiselli (1907–1980) was the tenth president and the first not to have been a member of Section D of AAAP. His doctorate was received in 1936 at the University of California at Berkeley, with a dissertation on the effects of subcortical lesions on discrimination learning in rats. But his interests in industrial psychology came from his contacts with John Jenkins at Cornell University and the University of Maryland. Ghiselli returned to Berkeley as a faculty member in 1939 to establish a program in applied psychology and he remained there until his retirement in 1973, except for service during the war with the Aviation Psychology Research Program. His research career, which focused on psychological measurement, prediction models, management abilities, occupational tests, and performance earned him the first APA Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award (1972) given to an industrial psychologist (Beach, 1981; Ghiselli, 1978). His six books included works on personnel, theory of psychological measurement, validity of occupational tests, managerial thinking, and managerial talent. Ghiselli was, perhaps, the first of the Division presidents to work on organizational issues as well as the more traditional industrial topics of I/O psychology. SIOP’s James McKeen Cattell Award was renamed for Ghiselli in 1983, an award given for innovations in research design.

These first 10 presidents were mostly in the same age cohort. Bills and Moore were born in 1890 and 1891 respectively, but the other 8 were born between 1901 and 1907. With the exception of Bills, who received her Ph.D. in 1917, they earned their doctorates in the decade and a half following the First World War, in an America that offered expanding op-portunities for applied psychological work. Most of them took traditional experimental training in psychology but over half of them did dissertation studies that were clearly in the domain of industrial psychology. It was their generation that would establish formal doctoral programs in the field.

Division 14 (and Section D of AAAP before it) was founded to advance the science and practice of industrial psychology and to promote work between psychologists in the academy and those in business. It has remained true to those objectives through a number of disciplinary changes that have seen the flowering of organizational psychology and organizational changes that have resulted in a semi-autonomous organization known as the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Inc. (SIOP). Whereas other applied specialties have fragmented within psychology, Division 14/SIOP has mostly held on to the science and practice of industrial/organizational psychology. This success stems, in part, from a commitment to a real integration of science and practice. That commitment can be seen in the early presidents of the Division drawn from psychologists working in universities as well as those in industrial and business settings.


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