Robert Yerkes: A Brief Biography of a Significant Contributor to Modern Psychology

Robert Yerkes: A Brief Biography of a Significant Contributor to Modern Psychology

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Robert Yerkes has made significant contributions to modern psychology in numerous ways, which has had an effect on many different fields in the discipline. Out of such contributions, there are three of which that have had the most influence over modern psychology today. The first major contribution and definitely where his largest impact in psychology has been focuses on Yerkes’ research that he conducted at the very first American primate laboratory which he founded himself. Another major influence Yerkes has had on psychology today was his work on intelligent testing on American military recruits during the First World War. Finally, the last influence to be discussed was his development of the Yerkes-Dodson law and its impact on how we understand the relationship between arousal and performance today.
After years at Yale, in 1930 Yerkes was finally able to study primates in a laboratory which was unprecedented in the United States up until this point. At this laboratory which resided in Orange Park, Florida he was able to conduct numerous research studies on primates that dealt with many different areas under the field of psychology, such as sensory function, habit formation, and problem solving (Dewsbury, 2000). Dewsbury (2000) argues that Yerkes’ research projects that were centered on these aspects of psychology as well as further extending the field of animal testing were his main contributions to modern psychology, and that Yerkes was able to set the foundation for similar research to be conducted that can still be see today. Other contributions to modern psychology that Yerkes’ is responsible for include his development of a new brand of comparative psychology which he utilized within his research, as well as his creatio...


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