The Founding of Psi Chi: A Brief Quiz
John D. Hogan, PhD
St. John’s University
How old is Psi Chi? Anyone who has received a letter on Psi Chi stationery might recognize the proud phrase lining its bottom, "Founded September 4, 1929, at the Ninth International Congress of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut." In preparation for our celebration of our Society's 70th anniversary next year, expert historian John D. Hogan, PhD, Psi Chi's former Eastern Vice-President, has kindly agreed to prepare a future report on that truly fascinating, yet oft-forgotten 1929 meeting where Psi Chi was born. Meanwhile, John offers us this quiz, with six early questions to consider. Good luck!
---Harold Takooshian, Psi Chi 1997-1998 President-Elect
Many Psi Chi members are aware that the society was founded in 1929 at Yale University. They may be less knowledgeable, however, about the circumstances under which the organization was established.
The signing of the Psi Chi Charter took place during the Ninth International Congress of Psychology, which ran from September 1-7, 1929, in New Haven, Conn., the first International Congress to be held in the United States. The American Psychological Association was the chief sponsor of the Congress and, for all practical purposes, canceled its own annual meeting in favor of the international one.
The event resulted in an extraordinary gathering of psychologists. More than 800 attended, 722 from the United States, 104 from other countries. Among them were some of the most eminent psychologists of the day. Can you identify the ones described below?
1. He was only weeks away from his 80th birthday and looked a bit frail--until he began to speak. Then, though he spoke in Russian, he electrified the audience. At one point, they even applauded his description of lab equipment. He had been in the U.S. only once before, six years earlier, when he was robbed of a large amount of money while boarding a train in New York City.
2. She was a 20-year-old graduate student at Columbia University when she attended the Congress, and she often spoke of how thrilling the event had been. (She received her PhD the following year at age 21.) Later, she became an authority on psychometrics and the first woman president of the American Psychological Association in 50 years.
3. He claimed he never took a psychology course in his life. Indeed, his doctoral degree was in natural science. By the time he was 19, he had published 21 articles in international journals on mollusks. He was 33 when he attended the Congress and had already begun to write about intelligence and the acquisition of knowledge. His ideas revolutionized our understanding of child development.
4. He was the last doctoral student of G.Stanley Hall at Clark University and the first African American to receive a PhD in psychology in the U.S. Proficient in five languages, his interests ranged from the psychology of religion to the psychoanalysis of Freud and Adler. He later became chair of psychology at Howard University where, among other things, he established the Psi Chi chapter.
5. He was known as "Mr. IQ" although, strictly speaking, the originator of that concept was a German psychologist who also had attended the Congress. He developed the "Stanford Revision of the Binet-Simon Scales" and organized a longitudinal study of "genius," the first of its kind. His son, Fred, who was also a subject in the "genius" study, was a prime mover in the development of famed Silicon Valley.
6. He was only 21 years old and working on his master's degree at the University of Kansas when he attended the Congress. He received a PhD in psychology from Harvard in 1934 and later became chair of the Department of Psychology at Harvard, a position he held for many years. It was while he was at Kansas that he and his friend, "Bud" Lewis, developed the idea for an honor society that became Psi Chi.
Winter 1998 issue of Eye on Psi Chi (Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 7, 9), published by Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology (Chattanooga, TN). Copyright, 1998, Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology. All rights reserved.