John Dollard was born in in Menasha, Wisconsin in
1900. His father, a railroad engineer, died in an accident when John
was very young. John was a psychologist and also a social scientist
who had greatly studied the race relations in the United States. He
originally received a Ph.D. in sociology from the University
of Chicago in 1931. Yale
Universitys Institute of Human Relations appointed him
as a research associate in psychology in 1932. Some of his best work
was done here.
John and another Yale psychologist, Neal Miller,
conducted a study that was titled Fear and Courage under Battle
Conditions while John was serving as a consultant for the United
States Department of War from 1942 to 1945. The research looked at
the fear and moral of soldiers who were in modern combat conditions.
Also, 300 veterans who were volunteers with the Abraham Lincoln
Brigade during the Spanish Civil War were used as subjects for the
study that was conducted. The Anthropology major, John V. Murra, of
the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, helped with giving out and receiving
surveys. John was able to summarize his findings in Fear in Battle,
which was published in 1944. Basically, it was a handbook for those
in the military during World War II. In 1952 he became the professor
in Yales Department of Psychology. He retired with the title of
professor emeritus in 1969. John was also a learning theorist
who contributed greatly to social psychology. He looked into cultural
differences in behavior. Dollard developed the explanation for
aggressive behavior called the frustration-aggression hypothesis. In
1980 John Dollard died.
In addition to the prestigious academic appointments that Dollard
had acquired, his biography demonstrates considerable research
efforts to advance human understanding of psychology. For instance,
Ewen (1998) notes that in 1937 Dollard examined the exploitation of
blacks in the South. In addition, Dollard worked in conjunction with
a colleague from Yale, Neal Miller, to examine the impact of battle
conditions on the fear and morale of soldiers. This investigation
took place between the years of 1942 to 1945 while Dollard and Miller
worked for the US Department of War. Dollard's work led him to write
numerous books and journal articles, the most famous of which was
"Fear in Battle" which was published in 1944 (Bova, 2004).
Although Dollard's research provided him with some degree of
personal and professional success, Ewen (1998) does note that the
specific avenues of research chosen by Dollard were somewhat contrary
to the prevailing interests of the scholars at Yale. Ewen notes: "Yet
he paid a price for his unusual interdisciplinary interests: academic
departments tend to look with disfavor on those who depart from the
common mold, and he did not become a voting full professor in the
department of psychology at Yale until age 52" (p. 507). In
1969, Dollard retired from Yale with the title professor emeritus. In
addition to developing an understanding of the fear faced by soldiers
in battle, Dollard also developed the "frustration-aggression"
hypothesis (Bova, 2004). John Dollard died in 1980.
In an effort to understand the specific contributions
that Dollard made to the larger practice of psychology and
counseling, it is helpful to consider the specific insights that
Dollard gained through his major research studies. Considering first,
Dollard's examination of blacks living in the South in the 1930s,
Wilson (2002) observes that Dollard's work focused more on the
ethnography of how black society developed in the South than on
specific issues of psychology. Despite this however, Dollard did make
some interesting observations about the dynamic interplay between
society and culture and their impact on black men living in the
South. Specifically, Wilson notes that for black males living in the
South, the very nature of their role as providers and breadwinners
was challenged. "Black men had no access to white women and only
limited access to black women, and with the latter the man could
offer neither food nor shelter nor protection-the essential
requirements of the male social role" (p. 17).
addition to his study of exploitation of blacks in the South,
Dollard, in conjunction with Miller, also examined the fear response
of soldiers in battle. During this research Dollard and Miller
concluded that, much like Freud argued, the principle motivation of
the individual is to reduce the presence of certain drives. However,
unlike Freud, Dollard and Miller argued that there were two types of
drives used by the individual: innate and learned. Innate drives were
those which could be "satiated but never eliminated" (Ewen,
1998, p. 508). Learned drives are drives which are learned and can be
eliminated. These include fear, anxiety, and anger (Ewen, 1998).
addition to identifying different types of drivers, Dollard and
Miller also pioneered the "stimulus-response theory."
According to this theory, "learning occurs when reinforcement
strengthens the connections between particular stimuli and certain
responses that they elicit" (Ewen, 1998, p. 509). Linking this
to their specific theory of drives, Dollard and Miller argued that
reinforcement became more important to the individual if it was
undertaken in the context of reducing a specific drive. The behaviors
that were undertaken as a means to reduce drives were essential to
the development of learning.
Extending their theories one
step further, Ewen notes that Dollard and Miller were the first
professionals to advance the concept of social learning theory. In
short the specific behaviors manifested by the individual will not
only serve as a means to reduce drive, but also, these behaviors will
conform to the social conditions of the environment in which the
behavior takes place. As such, Dollard and Miller were able to
clearly see the relationship of an individual's behavior to the
larger context of the social environment. This issue is critical
because it represents a notable insight into human behavior that was
later expanded by Albert Bandura, among others.
notes that from the research undertaken by Dollard and Miller, these
scholars were able to draw some conclusions about the impact that
fear had on the individual. As noted by these authors, individuals
experienced conscious and unconscious conflicts as a result of fear.
Conscious conflicts were issues that individuals dealt with on a day
to day basis. However, unconscious conflicts were difficult to
address and even more difficult to overcome. Fear, Dollard and Miller
argued, also lead to repression: "repression consists of an
unconscious (and therefore uncontrollable) decision to stop thinking
about anxiety provoking issues" (p. 516). Finally, Dollard and
Miller argued that the development of pathological symptoms in
response to fear were efforts made by the mind to reduce the stress
and anxiety caused by fear.
Dollard also pioneered the
frustration-aggression hypothesis. As noted by DeMartino and Chalmers
(1958) the frustration-aggression hypothesis posited that the
presence of aggression occurs before frustration. Further,
frustration can produce a number of different responses, one of which
is typically aggression. Although this hypothesis received notable
criticism, it provided the basis for further investigations into the
development of both frustration and aggression. As such, this
research marks a notable springboard for other theorists.
Using what he found through his work, Dollard
was able to develop methods that could be used for improving clinical
practice. Overall, Dollard believed in the basic tenets of
psychotherapy. Ewen (1998) notes that in practicing psychotherapy,
Dollard did not believe that physical removal of painful stimulus
would provide relief for the patient. As such Dollard believed that:
"that psychotherapy must enable patients to reduce their
irrational fears, abandon the harmful response of repression, and
start applying their higher mental processes to their emotional
problems" (p. 517).
Ewen goes on to note that Dollard
developed a host of therapeutic practices that he believed were best
suited to meeting the needs of the client. For instance, Dollard
argued that clients were more likely to respond to a therapist that
was thorough and "takes his time." In addition, Dollard
supported the use of free association as a means to both support the
client and create an atmosphere in which the individual's overall
needs could be met. Finally, Ewen notes that Dollard believed that
the past history of the patient needed to be explored so that the
current issues impacting the client's development could be better
understood. Ewen notes that Dollard argued: "Without
understanding the past, the future cannot be changed" (p. 517).
Overall, Dollard's work has provided
theorists with notable insights into human behavior and development.
Ewen notes that because of Dollard's work, the gap between
behaviorism and psychoanalysis become smaller, as theorists began to
recognize where these two fields of inquiry could potentially
overlap. Further, Dollard's development of social learning theory and
the frustration-aggression hypothesis were widely expanded by other
theorists working in the field. As such, John Dollard made many
notable contributions to both the psychology and counseling
Dollard and Neal Miller
Miller - Studied with the famous learning theorist, Clark Hull. Well
known for his work
biofeedback and animal models of human behavior. He was also
president of the APA.
Dollard - was Prof. of anthropology at Yale. He wrote the classic
1937 book “Caste and class in a southern town”. With Miller and
others, he also wrote an important book on
good attempt to explain Freudian concepts such as repression and
displacement in terms of learning (drive reduction) theory. A good
attempt to reconcile psychoanalysis and behaviorism.
concepts of Clark Hull’s “drive reduction theory”
drive - stimulus that impels the organism to some behavior (hunger).
cue - "guides" or indicates the appropriate direction for
behavior (time, restaurant,
response - behaviors directed at reducing drive (cooking food,
reinforcement - anything that lowers drive (pleasant feelings of
eating and being full).
theory - for learning to occur, one must WANT something, NOTICE
DO something, and GET something.
of responses - any drive and cue (hunger and restaurant) elicit many
responses with some (order hamburger) being more likely than others
response” - the most likely response (order a hamburger) for a
and cue (restaurant).
"learning dilemma" - in the absence of a dilemma (need) NO
learning takes place.
demonstration of fear conditioning in a rat:
a primary punisher (shock) is associated with a neutral stimulus
fear becomes a drive (CER or conditioned fear reaction)
that lowers fear is reinforcing so its "habit strength"
feared stimulus (white compartment) is avoided so the rat never
learns that the danger is no longer present (basis of phobic
approach-approach - you are drawn to two equally attractive goals
(date Mary or Jane).
avoidance-avoidance - you are repelled by two equally unattractive
vs. not being able to pay bills).
approach-avoidance - you are equally attracted to AND repelled from
one goal (might be drawn to graduate school for the degree but
repelled by all the hard work).
double approach-avoidance - you are both drawn to AND repelled from
overtime (good pay but, you're tired) and family dinner (you feel
obligated but find these boring)].
that influence the probability of reaching of a goal (e.g., asking
for a raise)
avoidance gradient is “steeper” than approach gradient (in an
approach-avoidance conflict, as you get closer, drive to avoid
increases more quickly than drive to approach).
vacillation (indecision) - occurs where the approach and avoidance
increased drive - (approach gradient gets "higher," NOT
steeper) makes reaching goal more likely (e.g., financial demands
worsen making a raise more imperative) (see fig. 10 -1).
demonstration of “displacement”
When two rats were placed in a cage with a doll and shocked, they
attacked each other and ignored the doll.
When one rat was removed, the remaining rat attacked the doll.
Aggression was displaced to a similar target.
hypothesis - Dollard and Miller suggest that aggression is the result
of frustration. A correct but incomplete explanation.
Experiences that were "never verbalized" - Experiences
during the first year or two of life may make a strong impression.
But, because language has not yet been learned the experiences were
never verbalized or "labeled" thus they remain
Suppression - anxiety is a drive and its reduction is reinforcing.
Redirecting the mind from anxiety-provoking thoughts is reinforcing
and becomes a habit.
Repression - the above process becomes "automatic" and
anxiety can be totally avoided rather than just escaped from.
"STUPID" behaviors - Dollard and Miller used this term to
indicate that repressed thoughts cannot be dealt with logically or
rationally so behaviors related to them will appear stupid and
- a situation in which repressed thoughts (fears) can be expressed
without being followed by the punishing consequences that initially
made them anxiety provoking, leading to extinction of fears and
and Murray experiment (psychotherapy
for shocked rats)
rats were shocked in, and learned to fear. a white compartment.
they were then repeatedly placed in an apparatus with connecting
black runways each with a food goal.
at first they moved (displaced) quickly to the black runway (most
dissimilar to the white).
with continued trials, they reached the food goal in the gray runway
and eventually in
white runway. The fear had extinguished.