Nevitt Sanford

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Nevitt Sanford (1909–1995) was professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley. He studied ethnocentrism and antisemitism, and was one of the authors of The Authoritarian Personality. His co-authors in this work were Theodor W. Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswik and Daniel Levinson. Sanford studied the interactions between social systems and personality, arguing that social conditions could encourage those with dogmatic biases to persecute those groups against which they were prejudiced.

Sanford was born in Chatham, Virginia, son and grandson of Baptist ministers. He took his first degree at the University of Richmond. All of his brothers also attended and played football at Richmond. Even today, Nevitt still holds the record for the longest run, receiving the kickoff at the end line and running all the way to the end zone. This was followed first by a master's at Columbia University and then a Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard University. He joined the staff at Harvard Psychological Clinic in 1935. In 1940 he became professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1950 Berkeley dismissed him (and 11 other professors) because of their refusal to sign the loyalty oath.

After Berkeley, Sanford briefly became a research affiliate at the Tavistock Institute for Human Relations in London before returning to the US to work at Vassar College.

In 1959 as a result of a finding of the California Supreme Court, Sanford was reinstated at Berkeley with back pay. Once reinstated, he immediately quit. In 1961 he moved to become a professor at Stanford.

In the 1950s and early 60s he played a lead role in a major study of higher education (publications included: The American College (1962) and Where Colleges Fail (1967)). These studies argued that there was an overemphasis on academic publishing – a phenomenon often referred to as the "publish or perish" syndrome, and that this was leading to a deterioration in teaching quality.

In 1968 he founded the Wright Institute, a psychology graduate school in Berkeley, California. The Wright Institute offers a doctorate in Clinical Psychology and a master's in Counseling Psychology.

Sanford was the single or joint author of approximately 200 academic articles and around 12 books.

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