How Was Winthrop Kellogg Viewed
By His Colleagues and Students?
Before discussing Kellogg's major research areas, we provide a brief picture of the personality of this man as described to us by his former students and colleagues. To begin with, we note that the responses from these individuals have been amazingly uniform. Thus it appears that Kellogg was consistent in the way he dealt with people, and he does not seem to have been one way to one person and another way to someone else. Winthrop Kellogg was a man of strong likes and dislikes who formed impressions of people on initial encounters, impressions that were not easily altered. He has been described as fair in his dealings with others and perhaps naive in his expectation that he would be treated similarly. He had little tolerance for those he viewed as unjust or those whose behavior he viewed as less than ethical and he had clear ideas about who were the incompetents and scoundrels in science. These negative evaluations often provided Kellogg with the impetus for his own research, thus at times giving it an adversarial quality. He was more than a little egocentric and frequently had difficulty in recognizing validity in positions contrary to his own. Kellogg was an individual with great self-confidence in his professional as well as personal life. Indeed, overconfident might not be too exaggerated a description. Benjamin &Bruce (1982), p. 465
As a teacher, Kellogg received high marks from his students who were impressed by his exhaustive knowledge of the literature in his areas of instruction. He demanded respect from his students which included the requirement that they always address him as Dr. Kellogg. His well-planned lectures were enthusiastic, filled with details on numerous research studies and occasional vignettes about the researchers. While his manner in dealing with students was often curt, he was approachable and not unsympathetic to their problems. Many of his former graduate students felt that Kellogg was one of the best, if not the best, classroom teachers they had experienced. Not only did he make the subject matter interesting, but he communicated an enormous amount of information. Benjamin &Bruce (1982), p. 465
Kellogg was a great believer in the value of objective tests and routinely gave his students in introductory psychology a list of hundreds of true-false questions from which those comprising the final exam would be selected. Benjamin &Bruce (1982), p. 463
My feelings toward Kellogg were almost always positive. He had a really sweet side, and we struck up a father-son mentoring relationship, which was quite comforting and reassuring. Kellogg was a terrific lecturer with an extensive knowledge about a whole array of topics, including the ones I enjoyed learning about the most: human sexuality, principles of learning, sensory psychophysics, and comparative and developmental psychology. Alfred Kinsey, the famous sexologist, had been one of his colleagues at the University of Indiana, so he frequently incorporated some of Kinsey's spicy findings into his lectures. His material was always extremely well-organized and comprehensive, almost always containing new and stimulating material. R.J. Schusterman (2010) Pinniped Psychobiology: The Early Years. Aquatic Mammals 2010, 36(1), 84-110 [Excerpt p. 86-87] Note: Ron Schusterman was a graduate student of Kellogg's at FSU between 1957 and 1960. He pursued research with marine mammals for the rest of his career in California. He died in 2011.
He spent his career, particularly the Indiana years, in a time when most of psychology was involved in research derived from one learning theory or another. For Kellogg, science was the product of natural curiosity. He spurned the value of theory because he felt it placed blinders on the scientist causing important findings to go unnoticed or at least to be misinterpreted. This atheoretical position was not very popular at Indiana, nor at many other institutions in the 1930s and 1940s, and it undoubtedly contributed to the fact that Kellogg had only a few doctoral students during his 21 years at Indiana. Benjamin &Bruce (1982), p. 463
There is another feature of Kellogg's publication record that should be mentioned and that is his facility for designing new scientific apparatus, improving extant equipment, designing new data collection procedures, and developing new surgical techniques, the latter primarily for chronic preparations used in his dog conditioning research. His vita includes nearly a dozen publications that deal entirely or in part with these kinds of improvements in research methods. The later pioneering work with porpoises would require that same kind of technical innovation. Benjamin &Bruce (1982), p. 463
He was also the very model of scientific integrity in the planning, execution, and reporting of his research. He took all precautions possible to see that extraneous variables were controlled; it was intended that nothing be left to chance. Everything was checked and checked again. He was almost obsessive in some of his research habits such as having extra equipment and tools on hand in the event that some repairs or replacements were needed during the course of an investigation. His laboratory was both orderly in arrangement and immaculately clean. Woe be the student who failed to maintain those standards. …… Many of those trained by Kellogg acknowledged the debt they owed to him as a model for carrying out exacting, rigorous investigations. His skills in doing empirical' research and the rigor of that work were no doubt partly responsible for Kellogg's reputation as a scientist and his success in obtaining grants throughout his career. Benjamin &Bruce (1982), p. 465
Thus, far from concentrating on any one domesticated species, Kellogg worked with a wide range of species (fish, snakes, birds, mice, rats, dogs, porpoises, chimps, and humans), not to mention a variety of behaviors (reflexes, various expressions of sensory capacity in the porpoise, various learned behaviors, and a vast array of developing behaviors in the chimp and the human child). The ape-child investigation is also a prime example of a comparative study, and one that was as much descriptive as experimental. Similar claims could be made for the porpoise research. Moreover, the latter research well illustrates the examination of something meaningful in the natural existence of the porpoise, namely, its sonar capacity. There are other features of Kellogg the scientist that have a decidedly ethological flavor. In the case of the dolphin, at least, he tried to acquire as thorough a knowledge as possible of the animal's behavior. Often this meant trying to see things from the porpoise's perspective. Benjamin &Bruce (1982), p. 479
Although Kellogg was not a learning theorist, and certainly not a cognitivist by any stretch of the imagination, he and I agreed that Tinklepaugh's experiments [1932, on expectancy of reward in monkeys] left little doubt that nonhuman animals are capable of hypothesizing, predicting, or having a precognition about what the outcome of their behavior might be. They expect a certain kind of reinforcer or reward, and if that outcome is not confirmed, then the animal reacts just the way you and I would—surprised and disappointed, and sometimes resentful, as shown in their facial expression, bodily posture, vocal behavior, and reaction to the less preferred food. Indeed, it was this kind of research finding that got me so interested in the study of comparative cognition—that is, the way animals and humans use their information processing skills as they interact and adapt to their environment. R.J. Schusterman (2010) Pinniped Psychobiology: The Early Years. Aquatic Mammals 2010, 36(1), 84-110 [Excerpt from p.87]