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After graduating, Allport spent a year teaching English and sociology at Robert College in Constantinople, Turkey. He was then offered a fellowship for the graduate program in psychology at Harvard. On the way back to the United States, Allport had an extraordinarily influential meeting with Sigmund Freud. He stopped in Vienna to visit his brother Fayette, and while there he requested a meeting with Freud. He received a kind invitation, and when he arrived Freud sat silently waiting for Allport to state the purpose of their meeting. Unprepared for silence, Allport quickly chose to relate a story of a young boy he had seen who was terribly afraid of dirt. The boy's mother was so dominant and proper that Allport thought the source of the boy's anxiety was clear. Freud, however, looked at Allport and asked “And was that little boy you?” Freud had entirely misinterpreted Allport’s reason for visiting him, assuming that it was a therapeutic encounter. Allport became convinced that depth psychology might plunge too deeply, and that psychologists should consider manifest motives before digging into the unconscious (Allport, 1968).

Allport found graduate school quite easy, and in 1922 he received his Ph.D. However, he was unable to find any colleagues who shared his interest in a humanistic approach to the study of personality. Thus, he had to chart his own path. His first paper, published with his brother, was on classifying and measuring personality traits. His course entitled Personality: Its Psychological and Social Aspects , first taught at Harvard in 1924, was probably the first personality course in America. Allport then received a fellowship that allowed him to spend 2 years studying in Germany and England. In 1925 he married Ada Lufkin Gould, who had a masters’ degree in clinical psychology, and in 1927 they had a son named Robert. Allport also moved to Dartmouth College that year. In 1928 he and Floyd published a test for measuring dominant and submissive tendencies, but they never collaborated again. Although they helped each other from time to time, their psychological perspectives were simply too different as their careers progressed (Allport, 1968).

In 1930 Allport returned to Harvard, where he remained for the rest of his career. His first book, Studies in Expressive Movement , included a section on handwriting analysis and personality, known as graphology (Allport&Vernon, 1933). This was followed by The Psychology of Radio (Cantril&Allport, 1935), and then the landmark Personality: A Psychological Interpretation (Allport, 1937). It was in the latter book that Allport outlined the majority of the theory for which he is recognized, and it was the culmination of ideas that had been “cooking” in his head since graduate school. It was his ambition at the time to give a psychological definition to the field of personality. He certainly helped to accomplish that task, but it should also be noted that another landmark personality text, with a similar goal, was published the same year by Ross Stagner, entitled Psychology of Personality (Stagner, 1937; for a discussion of the significance of these two books see Craik, 1993; Stagner, 1993). Somewhat unfairly, Allport is often recognized for having published the first personality textbook, and Stagner is overlooked. However, Stagner was quite young at the time (only 28 years old). Accordingly, Allport was well-established in his field, and Stagner cites earlier work by both Gordon and Floyd Allport numerous times in his textbook.

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Source:  OpenStax, Personality theory in a cultural context. OpenStax CNX. Nov 04, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11901/1.1
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