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During World War II, Allport worked with the Emergency Committee in Psychology under the American Psychological Association. He spent some time working on the problem of morale among the American people, and he wrote a daily column for the Boston Traveler that focused, in part, on rumors. An important aspect of rumors was those rumors designed to enhance prejudice and group antagonism. This work led to a series of seminars on race relations for the Boston Police Department, a book entitled The Psychology of Rumor (Allport&Postman, 1947), and ultimately to Allport’s classic study The Nature of Prejudice (first published in 1954; Allport, 1979). Another factor facilitating Allport’s work on social issues was the establishment of a new department at Harvard shortly after WWII: the Department of Social Relations. Given his lifelong interest in social ethics, Allport flourished in this new environment, remaining active in its administration throughout his career. Later in his career Allport continued to refine his personality and social psychological theories, he pursued his interest in social and religious development, with books such as The Individual and His Religion (Allport, 1950) and Becoming (Allport, 1955), and the application of trait theory to the analysis of an individual’s historical documents. With regard to the latter, Allport had published The Use of Personal Documents in Psychological Science in 1942, and after using a collection of personal letters reflecting a mother-son relationships as lecture aids for many years, he eventually published Letters from Jenny in 1965. In 1966, as Allport was entering into semiretirement, Harvard University appointed him the first Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics. Cabot, a wealthy Boston philanthropist, was also a professor of cardiology and social ethics at Harvard. Cabot had been a professional friend and mentor to Allport for many years, and Allport credited him with having a great influence on Allport’s career. As early as 1919, when Allport was just earning his bachelor’s degree, Cabot was commenting on the poor state of the study of personality. Thus, it is perhaps no surprise that he mentored and supported Allport, who went on to become the “patron saint” of personality psychology (Nicholson, 2003).

Allport died in 1967, 1 month shy of his seventieth birthday, leaving behind many unfinished books, articles, and two psychological tests. He had received many honors, including a Gold Medal Award for Life Achievement from the American Psychological Foundation in 1963 (an award his older brother Floyd won five years later) and a Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association in 1964 (Maddi&Costa, 1972). He was the first personality psychologist elected president of APA, and a 1951 survey placed him second only to Freud as a personality theorist whose work was directly applicable to clinical practice. However, one award stood out for him, and it is the only one he mentions in his autobiography. At the XVII International Congress of Psychology, fifty-five of his former doctoral students gave him a two-volume set of their own writings, with an inscription thanking him for respecting their individuality. In Allport’s own words, this was “an intimate honor, and one I prize above all others” (pg. 407; Allport, 1968). In that same autobiography, which was actually published after his death, he acknowledged a small number of personality theorists whom he felt were on the right path toward understanding human life, including Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, and Henry Murray.

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Source:  OpenStax, Personality theory in a cultural context. OpenStax CNX. Nov 04, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11901/1.1
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