Harvey A. Carr
Researched and written by:  Donald F. Kneessi
I attest that the following biography is a product of my own original work..


  • Harvey Carr was born on an Indiana farm in 1873.  He began his undergraduate work at DePauw University and continued at the University of Colorado where he studied psychology, earning his BS in 1901 and MS in 1902. He went on to the University of Chicago to study experimental psychology with John Dewey, James Rowland Angell, and John B. Watson. He was awarded the Ph.D. in 1905, with a doctoral dissertation on a visual illusion of motion during eye closure (Schultz & Schultz, 2004).
  • Finding no university positions, Carr taught high school in Texas and at the State Normal School in Michigan in 1905. Then he worked at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn until 1908.  In that same year, he was invited to replace Watson at Chicago, where he remained until his retirement in 1938 (Schultz & Schultz, 2004).
  • Carr served as chairman of the Department of Psychology at Chicago from 1919 to 1938.  During his time as chairman, the psychology department awarded 150 doctoral degrees (Schultz & Schultz, 2004).
  • In 1926, he was elected president of APA.  Then in 1937, he was elected president of the Midwestern Psychological Association. He was advisory editor for the Journal of Experimental Psychology from 1916 to 1925, and associate editor of the Journal of General Psychology from 1929 to 1954. He also served for many years as General Editor of the Longman's Psychology Series (Schultz & Schultz, 2004).
  • Carr elaborated on Angell’s theoretical position.  His work represents functionalism where it no longer needed to crusade against structuralism.  Functionalism had bested the opposition and become a recognized position in its own right. Under Carr, functionalism at Chicago reached its peak as a formal system (Schultz & Schultz, 2004).
  • Carr maintained that functional psychology was the American psychology.  Other versions of psychology then being proposed, such as behaviorism, Gestalt psychology, and psychoanalysis; he regarded as dealing only with limited aspects of the field.  Carr believed these viewpoints had little to add to the all encompassing functionalist psychology. (Schultz & Schultz, 2004).
  • Carr’s textbook, Psychology (1925), presents functionalism in its most refined form.  Listed below are two of its main points (Schultz & Schultz, 2004).
  • Carr defined the subject matter of psychology as mental activity.  Those processes such as memory, perception, feeling, imagination, judgment, and will.  The function of mental activity is to acquire, fixate, retain, organize, and evaluate experiences and to use these experiences to determine one’s actions.  Carr called the specific form of action in which mental activities appear adaptive or adjustive behavior. (Schultz & Schultz, 2004).
  • Carr accepted data from introspective and experimental methods.  Just like Wundt, Carr believed that the literary and artistic creations of a culture could provide information on the mental activities that produced them (Schultz & Schultz, 2004).



Schultz, D. P., & Schultz, S. E. (2004). A History of Modern Psychology.

p. 191-192. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.



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