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Darley, John G. (1910–1990)

With the death of John G. (Jack) Darley on September 6, 1990, American psychology lost a highly visible leader who had maintained a masterfully influential presence in the field for more than half a century. A pioneer in student personnel psychology, a productive researcher and author on the psychology of individual differences, psychological testing, interest measurement, and a variety of timely professional issues, an elective and appointive officer in numerous high-level settings, and a forceful spokes-person both for the profession of psychology and for his special field of counseling psychology, Jack Darley built an extraordinary record of scholarly attainment and organizational leadership.

Born on February 20, 1910, in Pittsburgh and educated at Wesleyan University with a major in psychology, Darley entered the University of Minnesota in 1931 as a graduate student and research assistant under Donald G. Paterson, a preeminent pioneer in the budding counseling psychology movement. Darley was appointed a psychological examiner in the Employment Stabilization Research Institute, a groundbreaking interdisciplinary field research project that sought to test the efficacy of ability testing and counseling in helping the unemployed during the Great Depression. That work culminated in a landmark publication, Men, Women and Jobs, which Darley coauthored in 1936 at the age of 26 with his mentor, Donald G. Paterson. His other close research collaborator at Minnesota was E. G. (Ed) Williamson, 10 years Darley's senior, who had taken his PhD with Paterson the year Darley had arrived at Minnesota. Darley and Williamson focused their productive energies principally on student personnel research. One notable product of this working partnership was the publication of Student Personnel Work: An Outline of Clinical Procedures (1937), one of the earliest serious attempts to set out a detailed, systematic account of the counseling encounter.

Jack Darley earned his PhD in 1937. He worked for three years (1935–1938) as assistant professor and research counselor in the university's General College, a two-year college designed for scholastically marginal and educationally undecided students. The General College provided an investigative climate conducive to research on student behavior, and it was there that Jack pursued his empirical studies and his writing, some with Williamson and other colleagues, some independently, on a wide range of counseling-related issues, including attitude scale construction and use, interviewing, prediction of academic achievement, and the relation of inventoried mal-adjustment to scholastic performance.

In 1938, Jack moved to the directorship of the Student Counseling Bureau, then called the University Testing Bureau, where he continued to work on the psychology of individual differences, personality test development, psychological profiling of college students, and the use of the case study method in individual counseling. It was his inquiry into the measurement of interests, however, and the implications of interest measurement results for counseling, that stood out as his preferred research theme. Clinical Aspects and Interpretation of the Strong Vocational Interest Blank, a monograph that Darley published in 1941, attracted considerable attention as perhaps the first tract to use a dynamically oriented interpretation of interest inventory results, an approach that moved interest testing closer to the realm of personality assessment. It was in this monograph that Darley introduced the widely adopted interpretive concept of primary, secondary, and tertiary interest patterns. Fourteen years later, in collaboration with Theda Hagenah, Darley published the seminal Vocational Interest Measurement: Theory and Practice (1955), which drew together a vast array of empirical findings on the Strong Inventory and linked them with a variety of illustrative case studies. He was subsequently instrumental in the establishment of the Center for Interest Measurement Research within the Department of Psychology.

During World War II, Jack took leave from the University of Minnesota to serve with the National Defense Resources Commission and, later, as a lieutenant in the United States Naval Reserve. Immediately after the war, he made several critical and decisive contributions to the establishment of counseling psychology as a recognized research and practice specialty within professional psychology. The American Psychological Association (APA) had undertaken a substantial reorganization linked to the formation of divisions to accommodate the legitimate interests of relatively distinct clusters of members, each with its own domain of subject matter and expertise. Darley, 35 years old and still in naval uniform, came before the reorganization planning body as a representative from the American Association of Applied Psychology in 1946 to state the case for the establishment of a counseling division, although others had proposed tucking counseling under the rubric of clinical psychology. Eighteen charter divisions of the reorganized APA were created, including Division 17, the Division of Counseling and Guidance, which in 1952 changed its name to the Division of Counseling Psychology. Darley served as the first secretary of the new division, was instrumental in drafting its bylaws, and in 1950 was elected its fourth president.

At almost the same time, the American Board of Examiners in Professional Psychology (ABEPP) was formed as an independently incorporated body to set criteria of professional competence in the practice specialities and to initiate and oversee an examination procedure for certifying qualified candidates as diplomates of the board. Darley had been named ABEPP's (now ABPP) first secretary (1947–1951), and it was chiefly through his efforts and those of a few associates that the diploma in counseling and guidance (now counseling psychology) was created in formal recognition of a professional practice specialty separate from clinical psychology.

Jack Darley was a prominent contributor to both the pivotal 1964 Greyston Conference on the professional preparation of counseling psychologists and the frequently cited 1976 Vail Conference on professional training in psychology. Through the Greyston Conference Proceedings, he published The Substantive Basis of Counseling Psychology (1964); through the Vail Conference Proceedings, he published Psychology: Science? Profession? (1976).

In 1947, Darley returned to the University of Minnesota, where he held the position of associate dean of the Graduate School until 1959. Concurrently, he was appointed executive secretary for the Graduate School's Research Center and the Laboratory for Research in Social Relations (1948–1959). The investigative work of the laboratory was at the interface of psychology, social psychology, and sociology. Carnegie Corporation support for the first five years of the laboratory's program resulted from funding proposals Darley had drafted. After three years in administration in the Washington office of APA, Darley returned once again to Minnesota to become chair of the Department of Psychology, a position he held for 12 years, from 1963 to 1975. His remarkable administrative skill drew the admiration and gratitude of his colleagues who recalled his allegiance to high intellectual standards, his “tough tenderness” and straight-from-the-shoulder candor, his unflinching support of his staff, and, above all, his ability to make things happen. With characteristic total honesty, he speculated that he found considerable satisfaction in his ability to make things possible for others because that was the nearest experience he had to family affection.

Jack Darley gained stature early as a highly visible and influential leader in the field both inside and outside the APA. He sat on advisory panels of the National Research Council, the U.S. Department of Labor, the American Council of Education, the Office of Naval Research, and the U.S. Air Force. Within the APA he saw service as a member of the Board of Directors and virtually every other important board, including Policy and Planning, Professional Affairs, and Education and Training.

From 1959 to 1962, years of vigorous growth and tension within organized psychology, Darley held the post of APA executive officer. He found little evidence of consensus within the association's leadership on the question of priorities. As Darley stated it, “We had to create the bureaucracy in a nonpejorative sense that would hold APA together.” It was a time marked by the formation of new state associations and the strengthening of existing ones with distinct political overtones. These associations voiced their sentiments with the APA office about the urgency of proposed legislation to license psychologists and to authorize reimbursement for psychological services without prior medical approval. Economic and professional practice issues of this kind, Darley observed, rivaled APA's traditional focus on production and dissemination of scholarly and scientific knowledge and called for skilled efforts at mediation. Complex matters of ethical practice in psychology and negotiation of the financial and architectural terms of the APA building at 1200 Seventeenth Street, N. W. Washington, DC, were among other issues that occupied him during his tenure as executive officer. It should be noted that, despite his sustained involvement in administrative and policy affairs that left him little time for work in his special field, Jack experienced no ambiguity about his professional origins. He continued to identify himself as a counseling psychologist to the end of his life.

Jack Darley's published writings—more than 125 bibliographical items—spanned a period of more than 40 years. Beyond those subjects already mentioned were papers dealing with test reliability and validity, group behavior, psychology in the Office of Naval Research, and policy issues in professional psychology. Darley was a splendid editor, and he was appointed to a number of important editorships during his career, including the Journal of Applied Psychology (five years), the American Psychologist (three years), and the Journal Supplement Abstract Service (three years). For varying periods of service, he sat on the editorial boards of the Annual Review of Psychology, the Journal of Educational Psychology, and Educational and Psychological Measurement. From 1962 to 1966, he was a special editor for the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences.

Jack Darley's durable contribution to the advancement of scientific and professional psychology earned him many awards. He received the American Personnel and Guidance Association's Research Award (1953), the Distinguished Contribution Award of APA's Division of Clinical Psychology (1958), the E. K. Strong Memorial Medal for Research in Vocational Interest Measurement (1966), the Distinguished Contribution Award of the Minnesota Psychological Association (1982), the Distinguished Service Award of the American Board of Professional Psychology (1990), and the Division of Counseling Psychology's highest honor, the Leona Tyler Award (1990). At the 1991 APA convention in San Francisco, the Tyler lecture hour was devoted to a well-attended symposium retrospective on Darley's achievements and contributions.

Darley is survived by his wife, Jan Hively, president and executive director of the Golden Apple Foundation for Excellence in Teaching in Chicago; a son, John M. Darley, professor of psychology at Princeton University; a daughter, Janet Darley Griffith, assistant director of Research Triangle Institute in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and three grandchildren.

Source: American Psychologist, Vol 47(9), Sep 1992, 1144-1145. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.47.9.1144

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