Leona Tyler 10 May 1906 - 29 April 1993
Early Years • Leona Tyler was born in Chetek, Wisconsin on May 10, 1906 • No one in her family had ever gone to college, so her parents supported her and her three brothers in pursuit of high education. • Because of this, she was constantly ahead of her peers academically and graduated high school at the age of fifteen.
College • Graduated from junior college at the age of 19 • Went on to the University of Minnesota where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in English in 1925. • Due to the culture at the time, she began a career as a teacher and taught junior high school for 13 years in both Minnesota and Michigan.
Interest in Psychology • Through teaching, Tyler developed an interest in individual differences due to the diversity of her students. • In 1937 she enrolled in a course on individual differences at the University of Southern Califronia • She continued to teach junior high while pursuing her master’s and PhD. • She used her students to gather data for her dissertation on development of interests of adolescent girls.
Obstacles & Struggles “Throughout my entire life, being female has never made me feel inferior. I accepted many aspects of prevailing sex roles without thinking much about them, and I have probably been discriminated against on occasion, but I never had to struggle with such discrimination, and I never saw it as a tremendous obstacle.” - Leona Tyler (1978)
Obstacles & Struggles:Sexism • Professionally came of age between the two great women’s movements of the 20th Century (as cited in Fassinger) • Tyler’s mother adamantly believed in the 19th Amendment • Tyler took this to heart, having once commented: “My assumption that intelligent people no longer considered women inferior persisted. I never had occasion to question it.”(Tyler, 1988) • Claimed to have no experiences of discrimination (as cited in Fassinger) • Tyler later realized her career probably progressed at a slower rate than her male colleagues
Obstacles & Struggles:Sexism • Tyler was rather reserved and modest – she never forced her way into psychology’s limelight • Tyler was well accepted by powerful male mentors and peers • One of the few women in the history of psychology who experienced uniformly supportive relationships with men (as cited in Fassinger)
Obstacles & Struggles:Personal Life • Tyler never married, nor have children • Found a few of her male friends to be viable candidates for romantic partners - none of them were available in this capacity • Tyler found the idea of dating stranger after stranger in search of the “right one” to be dishonest and repugnant • She noted that at the time, it was extremely difficult for women to juggle both a career and a family: “I would have had to marry a man who would take care of my family, encourage my work, and overlook my lack of social skills.” (Tyler, 1977) • Tyler did, however, acknowledge that her celibacy allowed for her to remain focused on her work: “Being on my own has contributed to my success, although it is not the life I would have chosen. ‘She travels fastest who travels alone,’ to adapt a famous quotation.” (Tyler, 1988) • Regardless, Tyler maintained very close bonds with her friends and her extended family
Obstacles & Struggles:Professional Career • While Tyler was an extremely demure woman, at times her modesty was her own enemy • During the last 6 years of her career at the University of Oregon, Tyler served as dean of the Graduate School • She believed this honor was only given to her owing to a need and not to her own merit or skill • She found the role of dean difficult to get used to and considered such a role unsuitable for women; however, she would later note: “Had the opportunity come ten years later, after the resurgence of militant feminism, perhaps my struggle with myself would have been easier” (Tyler, 1988) • After a trip abroad, Tyler was astonished to find that herself and her theories had become so widely recognized in the psychological world
Obstacles & Struggles:a last note • Leona Tyler devoted her time and efforts to many avenues, both academic and philanthropic • Her character and drive were able to open doors that very few women walked through at the time • A “few” of her accomplishments: • Elected president of the Oregon Psychological Association, the Western Psychological Association, and Division 17 (Counseling Psychology) of the American Psychological Association • The APA honored her by naming its highest award after her – the Leona Tyler Award – which honors those who have greatly contributed to Counseling Psychology • Elected to the APA Board of Directors and later to the Policy and Planning Board • In 1972, she became the 81st president and fourth woman to be elected president of the APA.
Research • Lifetime fascination of the study of the individual and characteristics that separated one person from another (Tyler, 1961) • Looked at how choices affected peoples’ lives (Sundberg, 1994)
Choice Pattern Technique • Longitudinal, cross-cultural study where individuals would sort cards that had an occupation written on them • Explored reasons why they sorted them in that way (Held, 2010) • Result: Dislikes and avoidances are more important than likes, when thinking about careers (Sundberg, 1994)
Choice Pattern Technique • Choice pattern technique is still used in career counseling (Held, 2010) • Leona Tyler instructed more graduate students for theses and dissertations than any other faculty member at the University of Oregon (Sundberg, 1994)
Theory of possibilities The theory that all creatures, based on certain biological factors, are born with multipotentiality, and by choosing to actualize only certain possibilities throughout his or her life, the creature develops into the individual that it is now. These choices are both conscious and unconscious, driven by both internal and environmental pressures.
Theory of Possibilities Strengths Weaknesses Does not fully account for biological influences Does not hold the individual completely responsible for his or her choices* • Appreciates the impact of environment and context on the development of the individual • Realizes that each choice leads an individual down a narrower path (each choice eliminates other potentialities) • Does not hold the individual completely responsible for his or her choices*
Counseling Psychology Strengths • Offers guidance to ‘normal’ people, rather than only to people who have some sort of psychological ‘problem’ “A means of encouraging natural, developmental processes and exploring cognitive structures and their role in organizing individual experiences and choices.” (Held 2010)
Minimum Change Therapy A type of counseling, or therapy, that brings about the least amount of change needed to steer the client in a new direction. “Its most fundamental assumption is that there are many different ways of living an individual life richly and well, and that it is natural for a person to continue to develop throughout his life in his own unique way.” (Tyler 1960)
Minimum change therapy Strengths Weaknesses May not provide enough change for clients • Shortens the duration of counseling • Allows the client to maintain most aspects of his or her personality; a change in direction rather than a change in personality
Leona Tyler’s Influence • Wrote the primary textbook for graduate students in counseling psychology (Work of the Counselor) • Wrote the latest edition of Developmental Psychology with Florence Goodenough • Created The Choice Pattern Technique, a test she developed to research choice patterns, which is still used today in career counseling • Deepened and expanded psychology’s conception of the nature and complexity of individual differences • Opened and managed the University of Oregon’s Counseling Center • Advocated the importance and continuation of counseling psychology through her last days • Her greatest legacy was her enduring “concern for allowing and encouraging people to find themselves, to learn, and especially to clarify and choose their potentialities in an often chaotic world.” (Anonymous, 1991)
References • Brooks. , & Gonzales (1999). Timeline of women's suffrage in the united states. Retrieved from http://dpsinfo.com/women/history/timeline.html • FassingerR. E. (2003). Leona Tyler: Pioneer of Possibilities. In G. A. Kimble & M. Wertheimer, Portraits of Pioneers in Psychology, Volume V. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. • Held, L. (2010). Profile of Leona Tyler. In A. Rutherford (Ed.), Psychology's Feminist Voices Multimedia Internet Archive. Retrieved from http://www.feministvoices.com/leona--tyler/ • O'Connell, A. N., & Russo, N. F. (Eds.) (1990). Women in Psychology. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. • Sundberg, N. D., & Littman, R. A. (1994). Leona Elizabeth Tyler (1906-1993). American Psychologist, 49(3), 211. • Tyler, L. E (1959). Toward A Workable Psychology Of Individuality. University of Oregon. • Tyler, L. E. (1958). Theoretical Principles Underlying the Counseling Process. • Tyler, L. E. (1961). Research Explorations in the Realm of Choice. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 8(3) 195-201. • Tyler, L. E. (1943). Relationships Between Strong Vocational Interest Scores and Other Attitude and Personality Factors. University of Oregon. • Tyler, L. E. (1960). Controlling the Duration of Counseling: Minimum Change Therapy. University of Oregon.