Leona Tyler Memorial Lecture Series

Department of Psychology

University of Oregon


Next Lecture: Janet Shibley Hyde, University of Wisconsin, 22 November 2002, 3:30 PM, Gerlinger Lounge. "Men Are from Earth, Women Are from Earth: Meta-analysis vs. the Media on Psychological Gender Differences"

Lecture Abstract: The mass media proclaim that psychological gender differences are large and pervasive. I use the technique of meta-analysis -- which quantitatively synthesizes the results from numerous studies on the same question -- to test these assertions, focusing on gender differences in mathematics performance, sexuality, and self-esteem. The results provide some evidence of gender differences, but much evidence of gender similarities.

See the beautiful poster and invitation for the Hyde lecture.



Speakers: Leona Tyler Memorial Lecture Series


1. Eleanor Maccoby, Stanford University, May 6, 1994, EMU
"Individual Differences and Membership in Categorical Groups: How do They Intersect?"

2. Joan McCord, Temple University, Oct. 20, 1995, Library
"Understanding Aggression: Who, When and Why"

3. Grazyna Kochanska, University of Iowa, Oct. 18, 1996, Library
"Temperament and Socialization in Early Development of Conscience"

4. Robert Cairns, University of North Carolina, Nov. 7, 1997
"The Mismeasure of Aggression and Other Puzzles of Development"

5. Avshalom Caspi, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Oct. 19, 1998
"The Child is Father of the Man: Personality Continuity Across the Life Course"
And Terrie Moffitt,
"Adolescent Delinquency: Just Sowing Wild Oats or Seeds of Destruction?"

6. Laura Carstensen, Stanford University, Oct. 25, 1999, Library
"Taking Time Seriously in Life-span Development"
And Ian Gotlib, Stanford University
"Information Processing in Depression"

7. John M Gottman, University of Washington, May 7, 2001, 175 Law Center
"The Secrets of Laughter in the Midst of Conflict"

8. Kenneth A. Dodge, Duke University, 30 Nov 2001, Gerlinger Lounge
"Mechanisms in the Cycle of Violence: How Early Experiences Leave Lasting Effects"

9. Janet Shibley Hyde, University of Wisconsin, 22 November 2002, 3:30 PM, Gerlinger Lounge.
"Men Are from Earth, Women Are from Earth: Meta-analysis vs. the Media on Psychological Gender Differences"



Leona Elizabeth Tyler (1906-1993)

Leona Elizabeth Tyler (May 10, 1906 - April 29, 1993)

Leona Tyler, the eighty-first president of the American Psychological Association (APA) and only the fourth woman to be elected to that office, died on April 29, 1993, at the age of 86. Her professional career as a psychologist was based at the University of Oregon where she began as an instructor in 1940 and ended as Professor and Dean Emerita in 1993. Her history of outstanding achievement has been cited as a model for women, and her balanced blend of kindness and firmness as a model for everyone.

Leona was born on May 10, 1906, in Chetek, Wisconsin, but her formative years were on the Mesabi Iron Range in northern Minnesota in mining communities of hard-working immigrants, mainly Scandanavians, Italians, and Yugoslavians. The tax revenues from the then productive mines provided well for the local schools, and her family encouraged Leona's evident talents in academic studies as well as the piano, which she enjoyed playing well into her last decade.

Her academic progress was rapid, and she received her BA degree from the University of Minnesota at the age of 19. Her major was English, but she was also attracted to science. In chemistry classes, the elegance and order of Mendeleyev's Periodic Table inaugurated her career-long appreciation of orderly and mathematical ways of dealing with questions. Psychology was a natural discipline for synthesizing her humanistic bent with her convictions about empirical and quantitative evidence in organizing knowledge.

Psychology came late, however. For thirteen years after graduating, Leona did what so many intelligent and gifted women did in those days (and, needless to say, still do) -- she taught school. But while the English language and literature remained key features of her life, she found the need to control and keep order in junior-high classes increasingly onerous and inimical. At the same time, essays written by her students were interesting and disturbing as they revealed the pressures and forced choices that impelled and controlled the development of their lives. This experience led to a preoccupation that was to be a major theme in her professional life-- individual differences and individuality.

A new life began for Leona in a summer course in individual differences at the University of Minnesota with Donald G. Paterson who recognized her ability and persuaded her to enter the PhD program in psychology. In that estimable department, she was also particularly influenced by Florence Goodenough whose developmental textbook Leona later revised. For her doctoral dissertation she chose to study the development of interests in high school girls. The interest test she constructed was a project that reflected her many years of working with adolescents in the course of self-discovery and heralded much of her subsequent research, teaching, and practice. She was granted the PhD from Minnesota in 1941.

In the fall of 1940, Leona joined the Department of Psychology at the University of Oregon. In those days of heavy teaching loads, professors were expected to teach a wide variety of courses in addition to their specialities, which for Leona, in keeping with the Minnesota tradition, were individual differences, testing, and counseling. During her career in the Department of Psychology, Leona was the advisor for more masters and doctoral theses than any other faculty member; among these, it should be noted, were many outside the Department of Psychology in counseling and education. Because being constrained by conventional boundaries was not her inclination, it is not surprising that she also worked in the University's Personnel Research Bureau and taught mathematics during the faculty shortage in World War II. Her life-long interest in peace-making issues was reflected in her counseling of conscientious objectors during that period.

As the war was winding down, Leona developed a counseling service for veterans that turned into the University Counseling Center. When the University's administration arbitrarily sought to limit the role of psychology and the involvement of the Department of Psychology in the Center out of sheer prejudice against psychology as a discipline, Leona showed her metal; she forced the administration to back down by argument, marshalling support throughout the University, and threatening to resign. Throughout her career, Leona continued to counsel students on their vocational and personal concerns. Her view was that the purpose of counseling was to encourage natural, life-long developmental processes as distinguished from psychotherapy which, she felt, was more appropriate to clinicians' dealings with disturbances of personality. In 1965, Leona became Dean of the Graduate School and remained so until her mandated retirement at the age of 65 in 1971, still very active intellectually and professionaly, as she was to remain for the next 20 years.

Leona's thinking and attitudes never froze. Her early concerns about vocational interests led to a longitudinal study of the broader question of the directions of development that interests and personality take. A major research finding was that, as people thought about careers, dislikes and avoidances were more important than likes. This research led to the study of how choices organized peoples' lives. She developed the Choice Pattern Technique, that required people to indicate their construals of occupations and free-time activities. A Fulbright award for the Netherlands in 1962-1963 allowed her to test her ideas and methods cross-culturally. Her research was extended to India and Australia and expanded to take in values, daily activities, and future time-perspectives in adolescents. (In a visit to New Delhi, Leona had an interview with Indira Gandhi and asked how it was that she, a woman, could become the leader of the world's largest democracy; Gandhi responded by pointing to traditional Indian and Hindu traditions of female models of power.) Because Leona's most basic tenet was that personal development depended on selecting and actualizing from a great number of possibilities those few which time and situation permitted, her further inquiries were aimed at revealing cognitive possibility structures. Thus, she moved from rather concrete vocational interests to the broadest considerations about the various selves which a person might actualize.

Leona was a skilled and graceful writer. Her books were written to clarify and organize her own thinking for her courses and her students. They are models of lucidity, aptness, economy, mastery of material, and judiciousness of evaluations and conclusions. Her concern for clarifying the human puzzle of personal change moved, over time, from individual differences to individuality, and from a psychometric perspective to a systems-ecological view of real-world choices. Titles of her 100 or so articles and books reveal some of this progression: The Psychology of Human Differences (1947), The Work of the Counselor (1953), Developmental Psychology (1959), "Research explorations in the realm of choice" (1961), Clinical Psychology (1962), "Patterns of choice in Dutch, American, and Indian adolescents" (1968), Individuality: Human Possibilities and Personal Development of Men and Women (1978), and Thinking Creatively: A New Approach to Psychology and Individual Lives (1983). Her textbooks were highly regarded and widely used, and the three editions of The Work of the Counselor were perhaps the leading influence on the development of the counseling profession in their day. She had a singular ability to avoid eclecticism while incorporating and integrating diverse views that individually were doctrinaire rallying points.

Leona was disciplined but also a warm, generous, and idealistic person. She took friendship and duty seriously, and so it is no surprise that in addition to her teaching, counseling, research, and writing she seemed always to have time and energy for community and professional service and administration. She served on many local and state boards and was an active participant in national groups and movements to better peoples' lives, such as Amnesty International, Common Cause, and peace organizations. Her leadership at the University of Oregon consisted of membership on just about every significant faculty and university committee and culminated in her position as Dean of the Graduate School. Unpolitical as she was, everyone respected and trusted her rationality, directness, honesty, fairness, and decisiveness in both conflict and agreement. There was neither soft-soap nor bludgeon in her approach to life and work, and people sought her out for her warm intelligence. Psychology is surely the better for Leona's service on the APA's Board of Directors in 1966-1968 and 1971-1974, the Policy and Planning Board in 1968-1970, and the Board of Social and Ethical Responsibility in 1980-1982.

There were numerous honors and recognitions for Leona. She was successively elected president of the Oregon Psychological Association, the Western Psychological Association, and the Counseling Division of the American Psychological Association, and finally, as mentioned earlier, she served as president of the American Psychological Association in 1972-73. She received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota, an honorary doctorate from Linfield College, the Distinguished Service Award from the University of Oregon, a University colloquium series in her honor on her eightieth birthday in 1986, and the American Psychological Foundation's Gold Medal for Life-time Achievement in the Public Interest.

Leona died in Eugene of congestive heart failure after a series of illnesses and accidents. Alert and vital to the end and in keeping with her rationality and decisiveness, she prohibited life-prolonging measures while sharing her last days and providing "counseling" for a few close relatives and friends who had gathered around her bed.

Leona Tyler was vigorous and organized in thought and action and generous and humane in her sentiments. She leaves a legacy of significant ideas and programs and an enriched legion of friends, colleagues, students, counselees, and fellow psychologists in many places around the nation and world.

Norman D. Sundberg
Richard A. Littman
Department of Psychology
University of Oregon

(Version similar to that published in the American Psychologist, March 1994, vol 49, No 3, 211-212.)


Leona Tyler on the Web





See Also

Department of Psychology http://psychweb.uoregon.edu/

Center for the Study of Women in Society http://csws.uoregon.edu/

University of Oregon http://www.uoregon.edu/


Note: This site is temporary until permanent site for Leona Tyler series is available on department web page. -- July, 2002, Jennifer J. Freyd http://dynamic.uoregon.edu/