Quotes from Ernest R. Hilgard

The following quotes are taken from a conversation that took place between Ernest R. Hilgard, Ph.D and Robert R. Sears, Ph.D in Prof. Hilgard’s Stanford office on December 30, 1986. Both are past presidents of the APA, Hilgard serving in 1949 and Sears in 1951.

The full transcript is available from the APA archives.


“[The 1943] Convention brought together people from the various societies representing psychology. It was called Intersociety. It was not strictly an APA meeting. The Important reason for having an interdisciplinary or intersociety meeting was that the American Association for Applied Psychology (the AAAP) was gaining prominence. It arose in part as a protest against the dominance of the APA by the academics. The AAAP was developing a certain amount of loyalty towards itself which looked as though It might lead to some division within the APA. This was one reason for having this intersociety Convention to see If the various Interests of psychology could be properly represented In the American Psychological Association.”



“It is worth mentioning the war experience, in which so many people who had been purely academic were involved in applied fields of one sort or another and were proud of the way in which their psychology could be applied. I think that, given the whole atmosphere. There was no other time in which this could have been done as well.”

―Hilgard, on applied psychology and WWII


“I remember one president which will go unnamed. I was sitting right next to Edna Heidbreder who was pretty perceptive about things and said “This poor fellow, he is talking too near to the ceiling of his abilities". There's a real tendency to do something world shaking and It's kind of frightening.”

―Hilgard, on Presidential Addresses