Biographies of John Dollard and Neal Miller

John Dollard was born in Menasha, Wisconsin, in 1900. He did his undergraduate work at the LTniversity of Wisconsin and graduate work in sociology at the LTniversity of Chicago, where he was awarded a doctorate in 1931- He also studied psychoanalysis at the Berlin Institute.

Dollard taught anthropology at Yale LTniversity for a year, then joined the new Institute of Human Relations, which was interdisciplinary in focus. Besides anthropology, he also taught psychology and sociology and for many years was a research associate. He retired from Yale in 1969, becoming professor emeritus, until his death in 1980.



John Dollard


Besides their joint work, Dollard and Miller had individual research interests. Dollard researched the sociological issues of race relations and social class. He also explored biographical analyses, suggesting what should be included in biographical materials to permit sound psychological studies, and researched various topics related to sociology and culture, as well as psychoanalysis. According to Dollard (1949, p- 17) much can be predicted without knowing anything about the individual, simply from a knowledge of the culture into which the person is born. Sociological variables, such as social class, influence a person's particular learning experiences. Sarason (1989) credits John Dollard (1949, 1937/1957) for this vision. Dollard recognized the necessity of considering actual human social conditions— also frequently ignored by psychoanalysts—and not simply abstract psychological principles that could be studied in a context-impoverished laboratory setting.

Neal E. Miller was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on August 3, 1909- The family moved to Bellingham, Washington, so his father, an educational psychologist, could teach at Western Washington State College. Neal Miller received a B.S. degree in psychology from the University of Washington in 1931- He did graduate work at Stanford University (from which he received a master's degree in 1932) and Yale University (where he earned his Ph.D. in 1935). At Yale, he studied learning theory from Clark Hull, whose concepts of drive reduction influenced Miller's later theorizing. Miller married Marion Edwards in 1948, and they had two children, York and Sara.

Like Dollard, Miller also studied psychoanalysis. He went to Vienna in 1936, funded by the Social Science Research Council. There, he was analyzed for eight months by Heinz Hartmann, an eminent Freudian. He couldn't afford the higher fees ($20 an hour) required to be analyzed by Freud himself (Moritz, 1974). Returning to the LTnited States, Miller joined the faculty at the Institute of Human Relations at Yale LTniversity (1936-1941), where he collaborated with Dollard and others on the books Frustration and Aggression (1939) and Social Learning and Imitation (1941). These works explored a learning theory reconceptualization of psychoanalytic insights. In 1950, they jointly published a more mature and comprehensive version of their theoretical work: Personality and Psychotherapy: An Analysis in Terms of Learning, thinking and Culture. In addition, they explored anxiety among soldiers in World War II.

In 1966, Miller founded the Laboratory of Physiological Psychology at Rockefeller LTniversity in New York, where he conducted basic research on animals. He encouraged psychologists to communicate with neuroscientists, since physical processes in the brain influence human problems (Miller, 1995). Miller performed extensive basic research on physiological mechanisms of motivation, using rats and other animals. In 1969 he began applying the work to humans (Moritz, 1974). This work contributed to the development of biofeedback (Miller, 1985, 1989; Miller & Dworkin, 1977) by showing that autonomic nervous system functions such as heart rate, gastric vascular responses, and blood pres


John Dollard Neal Miller

sure could be influenced by operant learning (e.g., Carmona, Miller, & Demierre, 1974; DiCara & Miller, 1968; Miller, 1963, 1969; Miller & Banuazizi, 1968). This concept contradicted the prevailing assumption that the autonomic nervous system involved only classical (not operant) conditioning. Although later research by Miller and others was not able to reproduce these effects reliably (Dworkin & Miller, 1986; Evans, 1976), biofeedback remains an accepted and effective treatment technique, and Miller continued his research on the learning of autonomic nervous system responses (Grasing & Miller, 1989)-In 1991, the American Psychological Association (1992) presented Neal Miller with one of its most prestigious awards, the Citation for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology. The award cited his cumulative record of research, using basic scientific methods and animal models to understand social learning, psychopathology, health, and other important topics. In his acceptance of the award, Miller (1992a) emphasized the importance of the scientific method to solve theoretical disagreements and to ameliorate social problems such as the care of the mentally ill. He died March 23, 2002.

This chapter will not attempt to discuss all of Miller's and Dollard's work but rather will focus on the collaborative effort of the two theorists, which is the learning theory reinterpretation of psychoanalytic theory.

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  • Celso Romano
    What are the challenges of John dollard personality theory?
    4 years ago
  • mehari
    What is d name of the man that work with john dollard?
    3 years ago

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