"This is to say that, while life may have its crude beginnings, it has it's noble endings too, and there is a line that leads from one to the other-a line that geographically portrays the character of the individual, and mankind as well."
-APA in regards to Gordon Allport
Purpose of Site
In 1937 Allport published his first book titled, "Personality: A Psychological Interpretation." This book was the first book to ever define which topics should be covered when studying personality (Hevren). After completion of his book he was promoted to Associate Professor at Harvard to which he held until he advanced to Professor of Psychology in 1942, which he held until his death in 1967 (Hjelle and Ziegler p.173). He was a colorful and distinguished person in regards to his professional life. He received many awards, published books, and chaired an array of boards.
He was a representative of the American Psychological Association (APA) to which he was on both the National and Social Science Research Council. In 1937 he became President of the APA. Allport also served as a director of the National Commission for the United Nations Educational Scientific, and Cultural Organization (Hjelle and Ziegler p.173). During this time he was also the editor of the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology. In 1943 he became the president of the Eastern Psychological Association. In the following year he became the President of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. In 1947 he published "The Psychology of Rumor", which was composed with Leo Postman. It was based on his studies of the social problem of spreading rumors while he was involved in World War II. Shortly after in 1950 Gordon published his third book titled "The Individual and His Religion." His fourth book, "The Nature of Prejudice" came in 1954, which he also gained his insights from working with refugees during World War II, and his fifth shortly thereafter in 1955 titled, "Becoming: Basic Considerations for Psychology of Personality." This book became one of his more widely known publications (Hjelle and Ziegler p.173). In 1963 Allport was awarded the Gold Medal from the American Psychological Foundation. In the following year he received the APA's Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award (Hevren). The award had the following citation (Hjelle and Ziegler p.173):
"For reminding us that man is neither beast nor a statistic, except as we choose to regard him so, and that the human personality finds its greatest measure in the reaches of time. This is to say that, while life may have its crude beginnings, it has it's noble endings too, and there is a line that leads from one to the other-a line that geographically portrays the character of the individual, and mankind as well. This is what he taught his students. He taught them also to respect scholarship and to abhor massive ignorance of the fortuitous researcher. And because so many of them learned their lessons well, the name of Gordon Allport has become a hallmark of the well-turned curriculum vitae (American Psychologist, 1964, p. 942)."
The APA Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award was the last reward he would receive. He final book titled, "Letters from Jenny", was published in 1965. This book was composed of a series of 300 letters from a woman who was between 58 and 70 he received until the year of her death. He began his "semiretirement" in 1965 as well. On October 9, 1967 Gordon Allport died in Cambridge, Massachusetts of lung cancer, he was seventy years old.
Due to his dedication to psychology all the way up until his death, Gordon Allport is one of the most distinguished persons in the study of not only psychology, but in particularly personality and social psychology. He was not only celebrated during his lifetime, but also in his death. He is still studied in Colleges and Universities everywhere.
The Zeitgeist of the early 19th Century was geared towards physics. The physicists of the time were describing fields and organic wholes, providing support for the Gestalt way of thinking and revolutionary ways of looking at perception (Schultz and Schultz p.361). They were seeking to establish natural science. The Gestalt psychology was a system of psychology that focuses largely on learning and perception, suggesting that combining sensory elements produces new patterns with properties that did not exist in the individual patterns (Schultz and Schultz p.507). You can find this theme in Allport's work in his beliefs in such areas of traits, human nature, the propium, and his study of values. In those theories he believed that the humans were able to change and that it was not necessarily a change in self, but a change in the surroundings. He also believed that perception was a big learning tool in examining anyone, such themes are found in his three books that are discussed in this website.