November, 30 2015
The vast field of psychology as it is today was shaped by the many pioneers of yesterday. Among the greats who studied, theorized and experimented their way into history is the American born psychologist Robert Mearns Yerkes.
Robert Yerkes was born in Breadysville, Pennsylvania, he spent his young childhood days on a rural farm in Pennsylvania, but had his heart set on bigger and better things than farm life could offer. Influenced by his uncle Dr. Edward A. Krusen, Yerkes set his sights on a career in medicine and when he turned sixteen he went to Collegeville, Pennsylvania, to live in the household of Dr. Krusen, and there to work for his board while attending Ursinus College. After one year he entered the collegiate department and graduated with an A.B. degree in 1897, at the age of twenty-one. Yates spent the next five years studying at Harvard. After earning an A.B. degree there in 1898 he continued as a graduate student for a year in zoology, then he shifted to animal psychology and received his Ph.D. in 1902, with a dissertation on the sensory reaction and physiology of the nervous system of the jellyfish.
It was here at Harvard that Yerkes began a career in academics. He started as an instructor from 1902 to 1908 then he became an assistant professor of comparative psychology from 1908 to 1917. Yerkes gained much recognition and notoriety for his work despite being just an assistant professor at Harvard, as he was perceived as a leader in the psychology profession. It was during this period he also was elected to the presidency of the American Psychological Association and married a biologist, Ada Watterson, who later collaborated with him on some of his work. The couple had two children Roberta and David both were born to the couple while they worked at Harvard.
Robert Yerkes was heavily influenced by Darwinism, and his writing emphasized...