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Wed, 10.09.1901

Herman G. Canady, Psychologist born

Herman G. Canady

*Herman G. Canady was born on this date in 1901. He was a Black social psychologist, professor, and researcher.  Herman George Canady was born in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.

He was the son of Rev. Howard T and Mrs. Anna Canady. He attended Douglass Elementary School and Favored High School in Guthrie, Oklahoma, and graduated from George R. Smith College in Sedalia, Missouri, in 1922. In 1923, Canady enrolled in the Northwestern University Theological School as a Charles F. Grey scholarship student. There he developed an interest in the behavioral sciences and majored in sociology. He wanted to become a minister; however, after graduating in 1927 with a sociology major and a psychology minor, he continued his behavioral science studies at Northwestern, earning an M.A. in clinical psychology. 

In 1928, Canady's career began at the West Virginia Collegiate Institute (now West Virginia State College). He married Julia Witten in 1934; they had two children, Joyce A., and Herman G. Canady. From 1936 to 1939, as chair of the psychology department at West Virginia, Canady conducted and published a plethora of socio-psychological studies. As a psychologist, one of his most monumental contributions was examining the role of the examiner or proctor in I.Q. testing. Canady's article in the Journal of Negro Education, titled "The Effect of 'rapport' on the I.Q.: A new approach to the problem of racial psychology," reported his findings in this area (that rapport between the examiner and the test-taker can have a significant impact on the results of the test) and offered suggestions to improve the situation.

In 1939, Canady took a leave of absence to complete his Ph.D. in psychology at Northwestern University. After earning his doctorate in 1941, Canady returned to West Virginia as chairman, working as a psychologist. Canady also taught as a visiting lecturer at schools and colleges in collaboration with the American Friends Committee in 1946. In 1947, he consulted for the Pacific Coast Council on Intercultural Education and Intercultural Projects in the San Diego School system. From 1948-to 1953, he worked as a clinical psychologist for the Mental Health Unit at the Veterans Administration in Huntington, West Virginia. From 1947-to 1968, he worked at the West Virginia Bureau of Mental Hygiene.

He was a member of the American Teachers Association, the American Association of University Professors, the West Virginia State Psychological Association, the West Virginia Academy of Science, and the West Virginia State Teachers Association. The movement to organize black psychologists Canady's discontent with the lack of psychological research focused on the black experience led him to spearhead a movement to organize black professionals in psychology. He wished to draw more attention to the hardships black youth face and the obstacles to their employment.

At that time, psychology for black Americans did not exist. As southern chapters of the National Educational Association (N.E.A.) were segregated, black educators organized to form the American Teachers Association (A.T.A.) (formerly called the National Association of Teachers in Colored Schools) in 1904. Through his membership in the A.T.A., Canady began to organize black psychologists. Canady composed A Prospectus of an Organization of Negroes Interested in Psychology and Related Fields and sent the document to A.T.A. members who either worked in psychology or were interested in the cause. He proposed the formation of a psychology section within the A.T.A. The department's objective would be "to advance, promote, and encourage the teaching and application of the science of psychology and related fields, particularly in Negro institutions."

Among many stated purposes, the prospectus proposed efforts to assist black institutions with the educational preparation and hiring of black psychologists. Additionally, the document proposed efforts specific to predominantly black institutions to cultivate interest in psychology amongst black students and enhance research programs, including their emphasis on the psychological problems of black Americans. Selected works One of Canady's most influential articles was "The Effect of 'Rapport' on the I.Q.: A New Approach to the Problem of Racial Psychology."

While Canady's study failed to demonstrate significant differences in I.Q., his study spawned numerous future studies investigating the effects of the race of the examiner on the results of the test-taker. Canady also tried to bring attention to the current state of education in psychology at predominately black colleges. In his study, "Psychology in Negro Institutions," he investigated the psychology programs at 40 of the top predominately black universities in the nation. He evaluated the extent to which psychological education was available and the undergraduate courses in psychology, the resources of the department, the faculty, and the research productivity.

Questionnaires designed to obtain the above information were sent to administrators at the country's most well-respected 50 predominately black colleges. Forty-seven colleges agreed to participate in the study. Results indicated that only 30% of the institutions had psychology departments, while 70% combined psychology departments with education, philosophy, or sociology. Only two institutions offered a Race Psychology course. Of the 32.6% of instructors teaching psychology courses trained in psychology, only 30% held doctorate degrees in psychology. Only 8 of the 88 total psychology instructors at the institutions had published significant research in the past five years. Additionally, Canady suggested that, while many of the courses taught across the nation pertained to applied psychology, too few addressed issues of theoretical psychology.

At the A.T.A. Tuskegee Convention held at the Tuskegee Institute in 1938, Canady presented his ideas to members who unanimously voted to form a Department of Psychology within the A.T.A. Canady was chairman of the group, whose convention theme was "The Negro Youth Looks at Occupations in America." In 1968 during an A.P.A. convention, about 200 black psychologists met to discuss the failure of the A.P.A. to address the role of blacks in psychological research.  Joseph White, an influential black social psychologist, said that those present at the meeting were "dissatisfied with psychology's exploitations and the white definitions for behavior that placed Blacks in a negative light." 

In his research, Canady also drew attention to false beliefs regarding gender differences. In "A Study of Sex Differences in Intelligence-Test Scores Among 1,306 Negro College Freshmen," American Council Psychological Examinations of 637 males and 669 females attended West Virginia State College were analyzed. Canady concluded that there were no significant differences in "general intelligence" between males and females. He did find significant differences between the male and female performance in the sub-tests included in the intelligence test. The males outperformed the females in the numerical sections of the test, while the females outperformed the males in the verbal sections. He retired from West Virginia State University in 1968 after forty years as chair of the psychology department. Herman G. Canady, the first psychologist to examine the role of the race of the examiner as a bias factor in I.Q. testing, died on December 1, 1970.

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