April 09, 1998
Harvard
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David McClelland, Former Professor of Psychology, Dies

David Clarence McClelland, former professor of psychology, died of heart failure March 27 in his Lexington home. He was 80.

Recognized internationally for his expertise on human motivation and entrepreneurship, McClelland taught and researched for 57 years. He is remembered for his unconventional methods in studying human personality.

McClelland was born in Mt. Vernon, N.Y. A graduate from Wesleyan University in 1938, he acquired a master's degree in psychology from the University of Missouri and a doctorate in psychology from Yale University in 1941.

In 1963, he started McBer, a consulting company that aided managers in assessing and training employees. During the same year, the National Education Association received McClelland's proposal to offer seventh-graders in good academic standing college scholarships to encourage motivation at an early age. He published a persuasive article in The American Psychologist in which he stated that commonly used I.Q. and personality hiring tests were poor predictors of competency. He argued that companies should hire based on competency in relevant fields, and do away with SAT scores. His once-radical ideas have grown to become standard instruments in many corporations.

McClelland focused more on relationships among motivation, the quest for power, and physical and emotional stress as he approached the end of his career.

He was an instructor at Connecticut College and a professor at Wesleyan University before joining the Harvard faculty in 1956. He began teaching at Boston University in 1987 and remained there until his death.

A fellow of the American Academy of Sciences and the author of several books including Personality, The Achievement Motive, and The Achieving Society, McClelland received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1958.

His first wife, Mary Sharpless McClelland, died in 1980. He leaves his second wife, Marian Adams McClelland; five daughters, Catherine Dole of Morristown, N.J., Sarah McMullen of Downey, Calif., Jabez of Bethesda, Md., and Mira and Usha, both of Lexington; two sons, Duncan of Winchester and Nicholas of Marblehead; and nine grandchilden.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 3, in Friends Meetinghouse in Cambridge.

 


Copyright 1998 President and Fellows of Harvard College

David McClelland, Former Professor of Psychology, Dies
April 09, 1998
Harvard
University Gazette

 

Full contents
Notes
Newsmakers
Police Log
Gazette Home
Gazette Archives
News Office
Feedback

SEARCH THE GAZETTE

 

David McClelland, Former Professor of Psychology, Dies

David Clarence McClelland, former professor of psychology, died of heart failure March 27 in his Lexington home. He was 80.

Recognized internationally for his expertise on human motivation and entrepreneurship, McClelland taught and researched for 57 years. He is remembered for his unconventional methods in studying human personality.

McClelland was born in Mt. Vernon, N.Y. A graduate from Wesleyan University in 1938, he acquired a master's degree in psychology from the University of Missouri and a doctorate in psychology from Yale University in 1941.

In 1963, he started McBer, a consulting company that aided managers in assessing and training employees. During the same year, the National Education Association received McClelland's proposal to offer seventh-graders in good academic standing college scholarships to encourage motivation at an early age. He published a persuasive article in The American Psychologist in which he stated that commonly used I.Q. and personality hiring tests were poor predictors of competency. He argued that companies should hire based on competency in relevant fields, and do away with SAT scores. His once-radical ideas have grown to become standard instruments in many corporations.

McClelland focused more on relationships among motivation, the quest for power, and physical and emotional stress as he approached the end of his career.

He was an instructor at Connecticut College and a professor at Wesleyan University before joining the Harvard faculty in 1956. He began teaching at Boston University in 1987 and remained there until his death.

A fellow of the American Academy of Sciences and the author of several books including Personality, The Achievement Motive, and The Achieving Society, McClelland received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1958.

His first wife, Mary Sharpless McClelland, died in 1980. He leaves his second wife, Marian Adams McClelland; five daughters, Catherine Dole of Morristown, N.J., Sarah McMullen of Downey, Calif., Jabez of Bethesda, Md., and Mira and Usha, both of Lexington; two sons, Duncan of Winchester and Nicholas of Marblehead; and nine grandchilden.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 3, in Friends Meetinghouse in Cambridge.

 


Copyright 1998 President and Fellows of Harvard College