Carl Iver Hovland

June 12, 1912—April 16, 1961


YALE PSYCHOLOGIST Carl Hovland made singularly important contributions to experimental, social, and cognitive psychology (focusing respectively on human learning, attitude change, and concept acquisition). In the process he worked unremittingly "to improve the standards and quality of research in psychology and related fields," earning (in the words of one of his longtime coworkers) universal recognition as a "statesman of the social sciences" (Janis, 1968, p. 530).

Hovland also served as an insightful and trusted consultant to numerous governmental and educational agencies, industrial organizations, and philanthropic foundations. All this he did within a life lasting not quite forty-nine years. He could hardly have foreseen how limited would be the time available to him (both his parents lived into their nineties). Yet he compensated, in effect, through his remarkable precocity, quickness of mind, and productive use of every waking moment—along with his extraordinary ability to bring together bright young researchers with widely differing theoretical perspectives, to provide them with support and subtle guidance, and to formulate coherent syntheses of the emerging results. A man of unsurpassed gentleness and moral integrity, he left a deep and permanent mark on everyone who knew him.

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