WILLIAM MCDOUGALL, AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGIST

A RECONSIDERATION OF NATURE-NURTURE DEBATES IN THE INTERWAR UNITED STATES

Anne Carver Rose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The British-born psychologist William McDougall (1871-1938) spent more than half of his academic career in the United States, holding successive positions after 1920 at Harvard and Duke universities. Scholarly studies uniformly characterize McDougall's relationship with his New World colleagues as contentious: in the standard view, McDougall's theory of innate drives clashed with the Americans' experimentation into learned habits. This essay argues instead that rising American curiosity about inborn appetites-an interest rooted in earlier pragmatic philosophy and empirically investigated by interwar scientists-explains McDougall's migration to the United States and his growing success there. A review of McDougall's intellectual and professional ties, evolving outside public controversy, highlights persistent American attention to natural agency and complicates arguments voiced by contemporaries in favor of nurture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-348
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
Volume52
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

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Psychology
Exploratory Behavior
Appetite
Habits
Psychologists
Nature-nurture
Drive
Philosophy
Curiosity
Experimentation
Academic Careers
Habit

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)

Cite this

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abstract = "The British-born psychologist William McDougall (1871-1938) spent more than half of his academic career in the United States, holding successive positions after 1920 at Harvard and Duke universities. Scholarly studies uniformly characterize McDougall's relationship with his New World colleagues as contentious: in the standard view, McDougall's theory of innate drives clashed with the Americans' experimentation into learned habits. This essay argues instead that rising American curiosity about inborn appetites-an interest rooted in earlier pragmatic philosophy and empirically investigated by interwar scientists-explains McDougall's migration to the United States and his growing success there. A review of McDougall's intellectual and professional ties, evolving outside public controversy, highlights persistent American attention to natural agency and complicates arguments voiced by contemporaries in favor of nurture.",
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WILLIAM MCDOUGALL, AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGIST : A RECONSIDERATION OF NATURE-NURTURE DEBATES IN THE INTERWAR UNITED STATES. / Rose, Anne Carver.

In: Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, Vol. 52, No. 4, 01.09.2016, p. 325-348.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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