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Floyd Allport

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Floyd Allport

Floyd Allport
Born August 22, 1890
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Died October 15, 1978
Los Altos, California,
Nationality United States
Fields Psychology
Alma mater Harvard
Known for founding Social Psychology as a Behavioral Science
Influences Edwin B. Holt, Hugo Munstergerg, Herbert S. Langfield

Floyd Henry Allport (August 22, 1890 – October 15, 1979) an American psychologist often considered "the father of experimental social psychology",[1] Floyd Henry Allport played a key role in bringing about the acceptance of social psychology as a legitimate field of behavioral science. His book, Social Psychology (1924), impacted all future writings in the field. He was particularly interested in public opinion, attitudes, morale, rumors, and behavior and focused on exploration of these topics through laboratory experimentation and survey research.


Allport was born on August 22, 1890, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to John Edward, a physician, and Nellie Edith Wise Allport, a school teacher. Allport was the second of four sons. His three brothers were Fayette W., and Harold E., and Gordon W. Allport, also a psychologist. During Allport's childhood, the family moved from Wisconsin to Ohio, and after graduating from Glenville High, Allport moved to Cambridge to attend Harvard University. In 1913 Allport received his A.B. in psychology and in 1919 his Ph.D. At Harvard he studied under Edwin B. Holt (a student of William James) and Hugo Munsterberg. In between degrees, from October 1917 until June 1918, he served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Expeditionary Forces in World War I. Allport's first marriage was to Ethel Margaret Hudson on October 5, 1917. His second marriage to Helene Willey Hartley, was on September 5, 1938. Allport had three children: Edward Herbert, Dorothy Fay, and Floyd Henry, Jr.[2]

From 1919 to 1922, Allport was an instructor in psychology at Harvard and Radcliffe, and then until 1924 he was an associate professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In 1924, Allport became one of the original faculty members at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. He was a full professor of Social and Political Psychology until 1956. In 1957, after 32 years at Syracuse University, Allport became visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He retired from teaching that year in Los Altos, California. He died in California on October 15, 1978.

Allport published numerous books and articles in the field of psychology. Three of his most influential books are Social Psychology, Institutional Behavior, and Theories of Perception and the Concept of Structure.

Professional Life

Allport remained at Harvard as an instructor for three years after he received his PhD. In 1922 he moved to the University of North Carolina where he accepted an associate professorship. Here his primary colleague was John F. Dashiell. In 1924, after only two years, Allport left North Carolina and became a professor of social and political psychology in the brand new Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. The new School at Syracuse recruited Allport specifically in an effort to bring in and integrate social scientists. He was immediately appointed chair of the program and his efforts at creating the first doctoral program in social psychology were supported. Popularity of the Maxwell school rose rapidly after Allport's appointment to chair in large part because of his previous academic accomplishments. He remained at Syracuse University until his retirement in 1957 at the age of 67. While working as a professor Allport was reported to have had very strong relationships with his students. They admired him, he respected their intellectual differences and he remained in contact with many students after they had graduated, even visiting some of their homes occasionally.

Beginning the year after he completed his PhD Allport worked in editorial positions for several academic journals. Beginning in 1921 he was the first cooperative editor of what was then titled the Journal of Abnormal Psychology. In 1925 the journal expanded to the Journal of Abnormal Psychology and Social Psychology and Floyd served as a fellow editor. The publication quickly gained popularity in the field of Psychology and in 1926 it became an official periodical of the American Psychological Association. Between the years of 1925 and 1938 he became associate editor and and continued to edit the publication until 1945. The journal eventually split into two separate publications that persist today: the Journal of Abnormal Psychology and the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.


  • 1920 The Influence of the Group Upon Association and Thought. Journal of Experimental Psychology 3:159–182.
  • 1924 Social Psychology. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  • 1925 Allport, Floyd H.; and Hartman, D. A. The Measurement and Motivation of Atypical Opinion in a Certain Group. American Political Science Review 19:735–760.
  • 1927 “Group” and “Institution” as Concepts in a Natural Science of Social Phenomena. American Sociological Society Publications 22:83–99.
  • 1931 Allport, Floyd H.; and Hartman, D. A. The Prediction of Cultural Change. Pages 307–350 in S. A. Rice (editor), Methods in Social Science. Univ. of Chicago Press.
  • 1931 Katz, Daniel; and Allport, Floyd H. Students’ Attitudes: A Report of the Syracuse University Reaction Study. Syracuse, N.Y.: Craftsman Press.
  • 1932 Allport, Floyd H.; Dickens, Milton C.; and Schanck, Richard L. Psychology in Relation to Social and Political Problems. Pages 199–252 in Paul S. Achilles (editor), Psychology at Work. New York and London: McGraw-Hill.
  • 1933 Institutional Behavior. Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press.
  • 1934 The J-curve Hypothesis of Con-forming Behavior. Journal of Social Psychology 5:141–183. → The article includes summaries in French and German.
  • 1937 Toward a Science of Public Opinion. Public Opinion Quarterly 1:7–23.
  • 1952 Morse, Nancy C.; and Allport, Floyd H. The Causation of Anti-Semitism: An Investigation of Seven Hypotheses. Journal of Psychology 34:197–233.
  • 1954 The Structuring of Events: Outline of a General Theory With Applications to Psychology. Psychological Review 61:281–303.
  • 1955 Theories of Perception and the Concept of Structure. New York: Wiley.
  • 1962 A Structuronomic Conception of Behavior; Individual and Collective: 1. Structural Theory and the Master Problem of Social Psychology. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 64:3–30.


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