THE BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF PARAPSYCHOLOGY
Psychologists; founder (1934), with Joseph Banks Rhine, of Parapsychology Laboratory, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; president American Society for Psychical Research, 1921-23. B. June 22, 1871, Lancashire, England; d. November 28, 1938, Durham, N.C. Educ. Owens College, Manchester; St. Thomas Hospital, London; Cambridge, Oxford, Göttingen Univeristies. Fellow, St. John's College, Cambridge, 1898 (hon. fellow, 1938); reader, University College, London; reader in mental philosophy, fellow, Corpus Christi College, Oxford; professor of psychology, Harvard University, 1920-27; professor of psychology, Duke University, 1927-38. M. 1900, Anne Amelia Hickmore: 2 d., 3 s. Major, Royal Army Medical Corps, 1914-19.
A pioneer in physiological and social psychology, Dr. McDougall developed the concept that all behavior is purposive, directed toward a goal. His studies included metaphysical speculation on the nature of mind; research on the inheritance of acquired characteristics; and anthropological work among the tribes of Borneo which won him election as Fellow of the Royal Society, London. His interest in psychical research was first aroused by the work of William James (q.v.) with the American medium Mrs. Leonore Piper (q.v.) in the late 19th and early years of this century. McDougall's continuing concern with finding scientific evidence to prove the survival of the human mind after bodily death caused him to urge formal university study in survival, telepathy, clairvoyance, etc. As head of the Psychology Department at Duke, he encouraged and helped J. B. Rhine (q.v.) to found the Parapsychology Laboratory there, and is thus considered the link between psychical research and the more statistically based study of parapsychology.
Called one of the world's foremost psychologists at the time of his death, McDougall for much of his life was at odds with scientific orthodoxy, both because of his work in psychical research and his firm conviction that he had experimentally proved that acquired characteristics can be inherited. His books include An Introduction to Social Psychology (1909), which became a standard textbook and had gone through more than twenty editions by the time of his death, and which was republished as a paperback in 1959; Pagan Tribes of Borneo (1911); Psychology (1912); Body and Mind (1912); Group Mind (1920); Is America Safe for Democracy? (1921); Outline of Psychology (1923); Outline of Abnormal Psychology (1926); Janus (1927); Character and Conduct of Life (1927); Modern Materialism and Emergent Evolution (1929); World Chaos-The Responsibility of Science (1931); Energies of Men (1933).
Dr. McDougal also contributed the section on hypnotism to the 11th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1910), and sections on hallucination, suggestion, and trance to both the 11th and the 14th editions (1929). He wrote many articles on psychical research and related subject, including "The Case of Sally Beauchamp" (Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, London, Vols. 19-20, 1905-0); "The Need for Psychical Research" (Harvard Graduate Magazine; reprinted in ASPR Journal, Vol. 17, 1923); "Futher Observationos on the "Margery" Case" (ASPR Journal, Vol. 19, 1925); "The Margery Mediumship" (Psyche, Vol. 26, 1926). See McDougall, Psychical Research as a University Study, in the book The Case for and against Psychical Belief (Clark University Press, 1927); McDougall autobiography, in History of Psychology in Autobiography, (1930); Life and Work of William McDougall by Charles Spearman (Character and Personallity, Vol. 7, No. 3, Mar. 1939).
Taken from Helene Pleasants (1964) Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology with Directory and Glossary 1946-1996 NY: Garrett Publications