papalagi (papalagi) wrote,

Encyclopedia of Psychology Alan E. Kazdin, PhD, Editor-in-Chief


A year after her marriage, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. The radium and X-ray treatments which followed left her unable to have children. She has described this illness as one of two critical factors in her life (the other was the premature death of her father). The cancer treatments allowed her to remain childless without guilt or conflict, and she believes they were, however inadvertently, at least partially responsible for her success.

Her major works (Differential Psychology, New York, r958; Fields of Applied Psychology, New York, 1979; Psychological Testing, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 1997) are all considered classics and have appeared in multiple translations throughout the world. Her books have been called models of clarity, comprehensiveness, and synthesis.

She argued that psychologists too frequently have been asking the wrong question. Nature and nurture never exist independently: they are always inextricably linked in any behavior. The only appropriate nature/nurture question to ask is “How do they interact?”

In a survey conducted by Gavin, her peers rated her the most prominent living woman in psychology in the English-speaking world (Psychotherapy in Private Practice, 1987, 59 53-68).


In his presidential address, Angell described three conceptions of functional psychology that converged to form the broader functionalism that he advocated. The first was a psychology of mental operations in contrast to a psychology of mental elements. The second was a psychology that conceived of the mind as principally mediating between the external world and the needs of the organism. The third was a psychophysical psychology that insisted on the essential significance of the mind-body relationship for understanding mental life. Angell saw these conceptions as converging in the fundamental problem of just how the mind participates in accommodatory reactions. Functional psychology’s stress on the utilities of consciousness marked it off sharply from the structural psychology of Titchener that was concerned with the identification of elemental features of the mind through the use of systematic introspection.

Angell’s functional psychology, with its emphasis on adaptive behavior and the biological context, was strongly identified with Darwinian evolution theory. Angell’s theory of habit formation, for instance, represented an adaptation to individual experience of Darwin’s doctrines of natural selection and “lapsed intelligence.” According to the former, early stages of habit formation were characterized by excessive reactions from which useless movements were gradually eliminated and successful movements selected. According to the latter doctrine, consciousness was needed most in early stages in which behavioral coordinations were most insecure and least organized. As perfection was achieved, consciousness, having fulfilled its function, was thought to drop out, leaving a fully automated reaction.

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