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Kendra Cherry

Mary Whiton Calkins Biography

By March 13, 2012

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In honor of Women's History Month, we are exploring the lives, careers and theories of a number of eminent women in psychology. This week's featured biography is a profile of pioneering psychologist Mary Whiton Calkins.

Mary Whiton Calkins is probably best-known as the first woman president of the American Psychological Association, but she made many more contributions to the field as well. Her experiences represent the difficulty and discrimination faced by many women in the early days of psychology. Despite fulfilling the requirements of a doctoral degree and receiving unanimous approval from a thesis committee that included William James, Josiah Royce and Hugo Munsterberg, Harvard refused to grant Calkins her degree because she was a woman.

Regardless of this, Calkins went on to have a successful and influential career in psychology. She invented the paired-associate technique, contributed to dream research, advocated self psychology, and wrote more than 100 professional papers on topics in both psychology and philosophy.

Learn more about her life, career, and contributions in this biography of Mary Whiton Calkins.

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