Tracy Kendler 1918-2001 Introduction Did it all: ► Jewish Psychologist ► Researcher ► Professor ► Wife ► Mother of two sons Family ► Parents never went beyond an elementary education They had to work ► Worked all of time throughout Tracy’s childhood Financial hardship ► Tracy took care of herself Said this caused her to “develop an independent streak that later stood me in good stead” Her father died when she was 8 years old ► Mother remarried and had her half-sister ► Tracy helped take care of her sister Name Change ► Tracy born with the first name Sylvia ► She worked at a summer camp for preschoolers 4 out of the 5 counselors were named Sylvia ► Tracy had just seen “The Philadelphia Story” A romantic comedy movie The main character’s name is Tracy ► Decided to change her name to Tracy Later it was changed legally Developmental Psychologist ► Researched development within a neobehavioristic then cognitive orientation ►Researched and wrote many articles with her husband, Howard Kendler ►Howard was supportive of Tracy and treated her as an equal The unfair treatment of her angered him Historical Antecedents “To be born in interesting times is said to be a curse. Looking back now, I find the interest generated overshadowed the discord experienced.” –Tracy Kendler in her autobiography “A Woman’s Struggle in Academic Psychology (1936-2001)” Historical Antecedents cont. ►Anti-Semitism Parents emigrated to U.S. from Eastern Europe (Hungary and Russia) to escape anti-Semitism Especially prevalent throughout Kendler’s early years, adolescence, and college years ►WWI Tracy born during the end of it in New York City in 1918 Historical Antecedents cont. ►The Great Depression She was 11 years old when stock market crashed Italian Fascism and German Nazism on the rise Communist ideology becoming prevalent in NY intellectuals Political and social interest in her neighborhood, Coney Island (childhood), Brighton Beach (adolescence) Tracy became a student political activist in high school Everyone had financial problems including Tracy’s family Historical Antecedents cont. WWII (1939) Tracy was… ► 18 yrs. old when Hitler came to power in Germany ► 21 yrs. old when war started Historical Antecedents cont. ►Status of Women in psychology leading up to Tracy’s time: Very few compared to number of men Difficult (sometimes impossible) to get into graduate school for psychology No jobs in psychology for women (could not be professors) Most psychologists considered women inferior to men Historical Antecedents cont. Developmental Psychology: ►Began from academic interest for the betterment of children The use of scientific methods for social purposes ►The Iowa Child Welfare Research Station In 1906 a woman who had lost some of her children worked with the University of Iowa and legislators to start it (began in 1917) Devoted to research in child development (their physical and educational well-being) Developmental Psychology cont. ►The Iowa Child Welfare Research Station cont. Bird Baldwin started the Preschool Laboratories part of it in 1925 Began doing research in naturalistic settings in 1930s (Stoddard, Skeels, Wellman, Updegraff) and found unstimulating environments can cause a loss of IQ in children (1938) ►Experimental Child Psychology: 1950s and 1960s Using children as subjects to test general psychological theories for the purpose of extending scientific knowledge Charles Spiker established the first graduate program Historical Antecedents cont. Gestalt Psychology ► Founder considered to be Max Wertheimer (1880-1943) in Germany ► Other important influences: Koffka, Kohler (Wertheimer’s students), Lewin, Perls (founded Gestalt therapy) ► Emphasis on the whole ► Our consciousness and behavior occurs within a perceptual field ► Phenomenology: A technique used by Gestaltists; is the study of that which naturally appears in consciousness Historical Antecedents cont. ►Solomon Asch Became a distinguished social psychologist Taught Tracy’s experimental psychology course during her undergraduate studies Taught Gestalt theory Convinced Tracy (and Howard Kendler, her future husband) to go to graduate school in psychology at the University of Iowa to study with Gestaltist Kurt Lewin Historical Antecedents cont. ►Neobehaviorism Neobehaviorist that converted Tracy from Gestalt psychology to neobehaviorism: Kenneth Spence Tested elaborate, associative theories about the learning process Mental processes can be inferred from behavior but they are not publicly observable Focus on S-R and everything besides the S that impacted the R Attempted to find lawful relationships to explain behavior Zeitgeist ►Thomas Kuhn At the time, he was researching children’s discrimination learning and how it differed from animals. The Kendlers’ started researching behavior in rats, but when they saw other experimenters using children, they then veered more toward studying children’s behavior. ►Science was moving toward a more concrete pragmatic approach and concentrating less on theory Zeitgeist cont. ► Role of women in science “Most important social influence” A Woman’s Struggle in Academic Psychology (257). Called herself an antediluvian feminist—a feminist before the feminist movement All of the male graduate students in psychology had research or teaching assistantships. Tracy never did. First woman Kenneth Spence sponsored. ► Shortly after marrying Howard, Spence told her to concentrate on being a “good wife.” ► Several years later, he changed his mind about women in science. Zeitgeist cont. ►Kurt Lewin Sought to extend Gestalt theory to the fields of personality and social behavior Member of the Child Welfare Research Station Along with Spence, applied their theories (Gestalt and Neobehaviorism) in their research with children and this started basic, as opposed to applied, experimental child psychology. Zeitgeist cont. ►Kurt Lewin His life space model: interacting forces operate to determine the person’s behavior, the personenvironment interaction is a “life space”; this model did not survive Much of his research was done on children, but the experiments were intended to test, articulate, and extend a general theory of behavior. Zeitgeist cont. ► Kenneth Spence Neobehaviorist—sought to convert Gestaltists Early in career, produced an influential theory about discrimination learning in animals then tested it on children and found similar learning principles in children. Opened the door to graduate school for Tracy, converted her to neobehaviorism A step in achieving the goal of neobehaviorism was to make “directly observable behavior” the subject matter instead of the intangible mind. Mental processes can be inferred from behavior, but not publicly observable—A Woman’s Struggle in Academic Psychology (256). Zeitgeist cont. ► Kenneth Spence cont. Tracy was so intrigued by Spence that she chose to do her PhD thesis with him. This thesis involved his theory mentioned earlier. Doctoral research focused on discrimination-learning with white rats. Thesis was designed to test a set of predictions that would pit Spence’s mathematical model of discrimination-learning against Gestalt theory. Howard and Tracy admired Spence so much, they named their second child, Kenneth, after him. Zeitgeist cont. ► WWII Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 when Tracy was in her second year of graduate school—the US entered the war. Professional struggles/obstacles ► Great Depression Tracy did not have enough money to go to college immediately after graduating high school because her family had financial problems. ► Family Mother opposed to her going to college. She thought she should find a “wealthy husband” instead—A Woman’s Struggle in Academic Psychology (256). Professional struggles/obstacles cont. ► Anti-Semitism When going to register for classes, Tracy was told that the courses she wanted to take were closed—partly because she was a woman and partly because she was a Jew. When Kurt Lewin (a Jew himself) learned about the unfriendly welcome Tracy and Howard received he was furious. Professional struggles/obstacles cont. ► Lack of respect for women in education When being interviewed by the head of the psychology department at the University of Iowa, John McGeoch, Tracy was told that there were no jobs for women. After obtaining her PhD, the only job Tracy could find was as a clinical psychologist at the Chicago State Hospital—a hospital for the seriously disturbed and “insane.” Finally offered a graduate assistantship to teach experimental psychology at Barnard College 11 years after obtaining her PhD. Professional struggles/obstacles cont. ►Lack of respect for women in education cont. Applied for a faculty position in Child and Adolescent Development at Barnard College, but the Chairman of the Psychology Department told her that he “had an application from a male psychologist whom…would be hired, not because he had a superior record but because he would not have the divided responsibilities of a married woman with children” as she would—A Woman’s Struggle in Academic Psychology (260). Tracy wanted to do graduate teaching at Columbia University, but at the time there were no women psychologists in the psychology department at Columbia. Professional struggles/obstacles cont. ►Lack of respect of women in education cont. Finally obtained an assistant professor position at Barnard College 12 years after receiving her PhD—the man declined the position in Child and Adolescent Development that she had also applied for. Always offered lower level job positions and less salary than Howard despite the fact that both had same qualifications and concentrated their research on the same subject matter. The University Faculty Club at Columbia University (Barnard College is the partnering women’s college) even excluded women, unless they were granted with the honor of being a guest of a male to the restaurant on the top floor. Kendler’s Work ► Discrimination learning Subject reinforced to respond to certain characteristics of stimuli (size, shape, etc.) Shifts ►Reversal shift ►Extradimensional shift Shift Behavior by Developmental Level ► “An Ontogeny of Optional Shift Behavior” in the journal Child Development in 1970 Studied differences in shift behavior among kindergarteners, second graders, sixth graders, and college students Found that the ease of making a reversal shift increases with age But the ease of making an extradimensional shift declines with age Cognition ► Mediation theory A way of defining what goes on internally between stimulus and response Early “cognitive revolution” Originally an abstract Gestalt concept Through her work, Kendler tried to make it something observable (neobehaviorist) Strengths/Weaknesses ► Beginning of cognition ► Mediation theory relied too much on external stimuli and didn’t explain the consistency of cognition Was supplanted by a more cognitive, “interactionist” approach (Piaget) Influence of Tracy Kendler ►Many accomplishments in psychology despite being a minority and a woman and living through many struggles Published more than 60 articles and 1 book in the areas of learning and developmental psychology Levels of Cognitive Development (1995): Pointed to cognitive psychology and neuroscience as the future for understanding developmental changes in cognitive functioning Basic Psychology: Brief Edition: Textbook for general psychology classes she wrote with her husband Influence of Tracy Kendler Recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship ► One of the 1st women members of the Society of Experimental Psychologists ► 1st woman member of the Governing Board of the Psychonomic Society ► President of the Western Psychological Association in 1977 ► Consulting editor for Child Development ► Long-term member of the Society for Research in Child Development ► Received several National Science Foundation grants and a United States Public Health Service grant to fund her research ► Influence of Tracy Kendler ►Helped change the minds of male psychologists to be more favorable toward having women in the field especially Kenneth Spence PhD thesis judged to be excellent Received PhD in 1943 Successful in research and became a professor despite obstacles Endured unfair treatment for being a Jew and being a woman in psychology Influence of Tracy Kendler ►Worked against prejudice not only for those who were Jewish but also for African Americans Worked for the Commission for Community Relations, a branch of the American Jewish Congress (AJC), which did research on social prejudice Worked with AJC in combination with the NAACP to collect and interpret evidence relevant to the problem of whether segregated schools can provide equally effective education Influence of Tracy Kendler ►Wrote “Contributions of the Psychologist to Constitutional Law” (1950) A report against the “separate but equal” principle based on her research findings May have contributed to the principle being overturned in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954) ►Made significant contributions to understanding learning and development “Vertical and horizontal processes in problem solving” Identified as a Citation Classic by Current Contents Was cited over 337 times between 1963 and 1976 Influence of Tracy Kendler Applied a cognitive-behavioral approach to the study of learning and problem solving Research on cognitive development helped progress developmental psychology ►Mentor to graduate students Very important to her She called it a “peak experience” to have graduate students help with her research Influence of Tracy Kendler ►Family and career Had a professional career Still put her husband and children first Son, Kenneth Kendler, recently awarded the distinguished Lieber Prize for outstanding research in human genetics, which he dedicated to his loving parents Influence of Tracy Kendler Dedicated her book to her husband: “To...my husband Howard Kendler, I am indebted for putting up with me all these years without losing his sense of humor. He encouraged me to begin this line of research and we collaborated on all the early experiments as well as on the early theorizing. Although the scientific collaboration eventually ended, he remains my best friend and dearest companion, as well as my severest critic.” Tracy Kendler died of pulmonary fibrosis on July 28, 2001 with Howard at her side Summary: Who was listening??? 1. What type of psychology did Tracy Kendler focus on? a. 2. Who were some of the well-known psychologists who influenced Tracy? a. b. c. d. 3. Neobehaviorism Solomon Asch Abraham Maslow Kurt Lewin Kenneth Spence What were some of Tracy’s main areas of experimentation and research? a. b. Discrimination learning Mediation theory Summary cont. 4. What were some of the obstacles that Tracy had to overcome? a. b. c. d. 5. Being a female in a time that women were not well-respected Being a Jew during WWII and the aftermath of WWII Mother not wanting her to go to college—instead look for a nice husband Great Depression: did not have enough money to enter college upon graduation of high school Besides being an advocate for her own minority group, what other minority group did she fight for the rights of? a. African Americans References Basden, B. H. (2002). Tracy Seedman Kendler (1918-2001). American Psychologist, 57, 364. Kendler, H. H. (2002). A personal encounter with psychology (1937-2002). History of Psychology, 5, 52-84. Kendler, H. H., & Kendler, T. S. (1962). Vertical and horizontal processes in problem solving. Psychological Review, 69, 1-16. Kendler, H. H., & Kendler, T. S. (1971). Basic psychology: Brief edition. East Norwalk, CT: Appleton-Century-Crofts. Kendler, T. S. (1950). Contributions of the psychologist to constitutional law. American Psychologist, 5, 505-510. Kendler, T. S. (1991). The development of developmental psychology. In Joan H. (Ed.). Psychology at Iowa: Centennial essays. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates. Kendler, T. S. (1995). Levels of cognitive development. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Kendler, T. S., & Kendler, H. H. (2003). A woman’s struggle in academic psychology (19362001). History of Psychology, 6, 251-266. Suppes, P. (1975). From behaviorism to neobehaviorism. Theory and Decision, 6, 269-285. Woldt, A. L., & Toman, S. M. (Eds.). (2005). Gestalt therapy: History, theory, and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.