Robert Mearns Yerkes

Robert Mearns Yerkes

Birth
Breadysville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 3 Feb 1956 (aged 79)
New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut, USA
Burial New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut, USA
Plot Section 13, Plot: 76, Grave: 3 
Memorial ID 6684055 · View Source
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American Comparative Psychologist, Ethologist, and Primatologist. Robert Yerkes is best known for his work in intelligence testing and in the field of comparative psychology. Upon graduating from Ursinus College in 1897, he received an offer from Harvard University to do graduate work in Biology. At Harvard, Yerkes became interested in animal behavior, so much so that he put off further medical training to study comparative psychology. He earned his Ph.D. in the Psychology Department in 1902. From that time until 1917, he was an Instructor and Assistant Professor in Comparative Psychology at Harvard. In 1907, Yerkes published his first book, "The Dancing Mouse". He helped create the Yerkes-Bridges Point Scale of Intelligence in 1915. In 1917, Yerkes served as president of the American Psychological Association. At his behest, this organization began several programs devoted to the World War I war effort. One of these was the Army's Alpha and Beta Intelligence Tests which were developed by Dr Yerkes. These were the first nonverbal group tests, and they were given to over 1 million United States soldiers during the war. Along with John D. Dodson, Yerkes also developed the Yerkes-Dodson law relating arousal to performance. This law explains that performance increases with physiological or mental arousal until the stimulation becomes too great at which time performance declines. He was a pioneer in the study of primate intelligence and of the social behavior of gorillas and chimpanzees. After he spent time observing chimpanzees in Cuba at Madame Abreu's colony in the early 1920s he determined to raise and observe chimps on his own. He began by purchasing two chimpanzees from a zoo. His observations resulted in "Almost Human" which was published in 1924. In 1924 he became a Professor of Psychobiology (the field he pioneered) at Yale where he founded and directed the Yale Laboratories of Primate Biology from 1929 until 1941, followed by his Anthropoid Breeding and Experiment Station in Orange Park, Florida with funds from the Rockefeller Foundation. As time went on, however, Yerkes writings began to support eugenics. These works are largely considered politically incorrect by modern anthropologists and academics.


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  • Maintained by: RosalieAnn
  • Originally Created by: Peterborough K
  • Added: 13 Aug 2002
  • Find A Grave Memorial 6684055
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Robert Mearns Yerkes (26 May 1876–3 Feb 1956), Find A Grave Memorial no. 6684055, citing Evergreen Cemetery, New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut, USA ; Maintained by RosalieAnn (contributor 46559872) .