Pivotal Milestones

  • John Dewey established the Laboratory of Psychology in 1893.
  • James Rowland Angell was the first head of the Psychology Department when it was established in 1905.
  • In 1964, faculty moved into Beecher, Green and Kelly Halls to create a unified place to work.
  • In the early 1970s, the department was reorganized in a committee structure as the Department of Behavioral Sciences.  The  name was changed again in the late 1980s to the Department of Psychology.
  • In 1998, the University dedicated a $15 million, 5-story Biopsychological Sciences Building.


Field-defining Scholarship

  • George Herbert Mead, who was appointed to the faculty in 1904, pioneered the study of social behaviorism based on his work on the emergence of mind and self from the communication process with others.
  • Louis Leon Thurstone, who joined the faculty in 1924, did research that was responsible for the standardized mean and standard deviation of IQ scores used today.
  • Sleep research started with the founding of the world’s first sleep laboratory in the late 1920s by Nathaniel Kleitman and continued with work by doctoral student Eugene Aserinksy, who with Kleitman announced the discovery of REM sleep and its association with dreaming in 1953.
  • Carl Rogers, who came to Chicago in 1945 to establish a counseling center, in 1951 published  major work, Client Centered Therapy, which encouraged counselors to ask open-ended questions of their clients.


Faculty Accolades

  • Roger Sperry, a faculty member from 1946 to 1953, studied split brain functions and showed that the two parts of the brain could operate independently. He was a co-recipient in 1981 of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences: Amanda Woodward, 2014; Janellen Huttenlocher, 2007; Susan Goldin-Meadow, 2005; John Cacioppo, 2003; Martha McClintock, 1999.


Intellectual Leadership

  • Karl Lashley, a professor in the department from 1924 to 1935, used rats to study where memory is stored in the brain.
  • Erika Fromm, who joined the faculty in 1961, did important work on dream interpretation and hypnosis, which she considered to be a road to the unconscious.
  • Donald Fiske, who joined the faculty in 1948, developed measurement tools for psychology and contended researchers should avoid self-reports.
  • Israel Goldiamond, who joined the faculty in 1968, did research led to new and very effective methods of altering problematic or harmful behaviors such as overeating, smoking, stuttering and phobic behavior.
  • Mihaly Csikzentmihaly, who joined the faculty in 1969, developed the theory of flow to explain engagement in a task and also did important work on creativity.
  • Jerry Levy, who joined the faculty in 1977, found evidence that the left hemisphere of the brain specializes in linear reasoning while the right brain is involved in holistic reasoning.

About Kelly-Beecher-Green

Completed in 1893, Kelly-Beecher-Green, formed an anchor for the so-called “Women’s Quadrangle” along with the Walker Museum and Julius Rosenwald Hall. Designed to allow women not only to live comfortably, “but with taste,” it also became the longtime home of Marion Talbot, Professor of Anthropology and Dean of Women, until she retired in 1925. A woman of many hats, Talbot led the American Association of University Women and wrote extensively, including her own 1936 memoir of life at the University More Than Lore. Amidst it all, she still found time to answer William Rainey Harper's concerns about too much male dancing in Kelly Hall.

By 1960, students had been moved to other dormitories and the department of Psychology was to be relocated.  A “modern” department needed animal testing facilities and observation rooms -- all of which were built into the basement.   The renovation in 1963 had NIMH-funded research in mind and designated space for specific projects.