Charles E. Osgood
   HOME

TheInfoList



OR:

Charles Egerton Osgood (20 November 1916 – 15 September 1991) was an American psychologist and professor at the
University of Illinois The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (U of I, Illinois, University of Illinois, or UIUC) is a public university, public land-grant university, land-grant research university in Illinois in the twin cities of Champaign, Illinois, Champai ...
. He was known for his research on
behaviourism Behaviorism is a systematic approach to understanding the behavior of humans and animals. It assumes that behavior is either a reflex evoked by the pairing of certain antecedent (behavioral psychology), antecedent stimuli in the environment, o ...
versus cognitivism,
semantics Semantics (from grc, wikt:σημαντικός, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") is the study of reference, Meaning (philosophy), meaning, or truth. The term can be used to refer to subfields of several distinct discipline ...
(he introduced the term "
semantic differential The semantic differential (SD) is a measurement scale designed to measure a person's subjective perception of, and affective reactions to, the properties of concepts, objects, and events by making use of a set of bipolar scales. The SD is used to a ...
), cross-culturalism,
psycholinguistic Psycholinguistics or psychology of language is the study of the interrelation between linguistic factors and psychological aspects. The discipline is mainly concerned with the mechanisms by which language is processed and represented in the mind ...
theory, and
peace studies Peace is a concept of societal friendship and harmony in the absence of hostility and violence. In a social sense, peace is commonly used to mean a lack of conflict (such as war) and freedom from fear of violence between individuals or groups. ...
. He is credited with helping in the early development of
psycholinguistics Psycholinguistics or psychology of language is the study of the interrelation between linguistic factors and psychological aspects. The discipline is mainly concerned with the mechanisms by which language is processed and represented in the mind ...
. Charles Osgood was recognized distinguished and highly honored psychologist throughout his career.


Early life and education

Charles Egerton Osgood was born in
Somerville, Massachusetts Somerville ( ) is a city located directly to the northwest of Boston, and north of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge, in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States. As of the 2020 United States Census, the city had a total population of 81, ...
, on 20 November 1916. His father was a manager at the
Jordan Marsh Jordan Marsh (officially Jordan Marsh & Company) was an American department store chain that was headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, and operated throughout New England. It was founded by Eben Dyer Jordan and Benjamin L. Marsh in 1841. The ow ...
department store in Boston. Osgood described having an unhappy childhood as his parents were divorced by the time he was six. When he was ten, his aunt, Grace Osgood, gave him a copy of Roget's ''Thesaurus''. This gift was described by Osgood an “object of aesthetic pleasure”, sparking his fascination with words and their meanings. Osgood attended Brookline High School, where he began writing for the school newspaper, and eventually founded a school magazine. Osgood attended
Dartmouth College Dartmouth College (; ) is a Private university, private research university in Hanover, New Hampshire. Established in 1769 by Eleazar Wheelock, it is one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. Although founded t ...
where he intended to graduate and work as a writer for newspapers. During his second year, he enrolled in a class taught by Theodore Karwoski, thus inspiring him to switch his major in order to pursue a degree in psychology. Charles Osgood earned his B.A. in 1939 from Dartmouth, and in the same year, married Cynthia Luella Thornton. Osgood then went on to study at
Yale University Yale University is a Private university, private research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Established in 1701 as the Collegiate School, it is the List of Colonial Colleges, third-oldest institution of higher education in the United Sta ...
where he completed his Ph.D. in 1945. During his time at Yale, he worked as an assistant for Robert Sears, and collaborated with the likes of
Arnold Gesell Arnold Lucius Gesell (21 June 1880 – 29 May 1961) was an American psychologist, pediatrician and professor at Yale University known for his research and contributions to the fields of child hygiene and child development.Harris, B. (2011). Arno ...
, Walter Miles, Charles Morris, and Irvin Child. However, the person with the greatest influence on his career and future work was Clark Hull. Though Osgood was heavily influenced through working alongside Hull; he stated the experience was one of the determining reasons for him pursuing a career as a researcher, rather than a clinician.


Career

Osgood was a
social psychologist Social psychology is the scientific study of how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the real or imagined presence of other people or by social norms. Social psychologists typically explain human behavior as a result of the rela ...
interested in psycholinguistics, and research. He was an instructor at Yale from 1942 to 1946, where he earned his doctorate degree. He worked for the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development 1946 to 1947, serving as a research associate that worked on training of B-29 gunners. During this period, Osgood also worked as an assistant professor of psychology at the
University of Connecticut The University of Connecticut (UConn) is a public land-grant research university in Storrs, Connecticut, a village in the town of Mansfield. The primary 4,400-acre (17.8 km2) campus is in Storrs, approximately a half hour's drive from ...
from 1946 to 1949. Osgood then went on to become an associate professor at the University of Connecticut from 1949 to 1952, and eventually as professor of psychology and communications from 1952 onward. He completed a majority of his work during his time at the University of Illinois, Urbana, which, along with the Institute of Communications, funded many of his works. Osgood would often submit himself to his own experiments get a better grasp of what his subjects may experience. At Illinois, Osgood was active in aiding in the hiring processes, and even arranged interviews for women at the university during times when women were facing sexism in the field of psychology. From 1957 to 1965, Osgood served as the Director of the Institute of Communications Research, and starting in 1965, he became the Director of the Center for Advanced Study. He was also elected as the director of the Centre of Comparative Psycholinguistics at the university from 1963 to 1982. In addition to this,Osgood completed a fellowship at the
Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences The Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) is an interdisciplinary Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combination of multiple academic disciplines into one activity (e.g., a research proje ...
at Stanford University from 1958 to 1959; and was given an
honorary doctorate An honorary degree is an academic degree for which a university (or other degree-awarding institution) has waived all of the usual requirements. It is also known by the Latin phrases ''honoris causa'' ("for the sake of the honour") or ''ad hono ...
from the Dartmouth College in 1962. Osgood also acted as a visiting professor at the
University of Hawaii A university () is an institution Institutions are humanly devised structures of rules and norms that shape and constrain individual behavior. All definitions of institutions generally entail that there is a level of persistence and continu ...
from 1964 to 1965.


Death and unfinished research

Charles Osgood's career ended somewhat abruptly and prematurely after developing an acute case of Korsakoff's syndrome. He was left with severe
anterograde amnesia In neurology, anterograde amnesia is the inability to create new memory, memories after the event that caused amnesia, leading to a partial or complete inability to Short-term memory, recall the recent past, while long-term memories from before t ...
, but recovered well enough to continue working, though in a much lighter capacity as he was restricted to working from home. Toward the end of his career, Osgood decided to devote his time to three main projects. With the help of other scholars, Osgood intended on completing the interpretation of data obtained from the cross-cultural project; along with publishing 2 books, one of them, a summary of his theory of psycholinguistics (to be titled ''Toward an Abstract Performance Grammar''), and the other on international affairs. Osgood was never able to complete any of these due to the effects of his illness, which, after a few years, forced him into complete retirement, until his death on September 15, 1991.


Works and contributions

Osgood worked on many studies mainly on
cross-cultural studies Cross-cultural studies, sometimes called holocultural studies or comparative studies, is a specialization in anthropology and sister sciences such as sociology, psychology, economics, political science that uses field data from many Society, soci ...
in different aspects. He devoted most of his time to studies regarding
Social Psychology Social psychology is the scientific study of how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the real or imagined presence of other people or by social norms. Social psychologists typically explain human behavior as a result of the rela ...
, Cognitive-Behaviour Psychology and also on
Psycholinguistics Psycholinguistics or psychology of language is the study of the interrelation between linguistic factors and psychological aspects. The discipline is mainly concerned with the mechanisms by which language is processed and represented in the mind ...
. He was renowned for four of his major works and these works have pathed the way for future researchers by facilitating them for validating their works with researches tools proposed by Osgood, also promoting international research studies on cross-cultural topics.


Mediation theory

Osgood's Mediation theory—The
psycholinguistics Psycholinguistics or psychology of language is the study of the interrelation between linguistic factors and psychological aspects. The discipline is mainly concerned with the mechanisms by which language is processed and represented in the mind ...
foundations in human behaviour and communication process. Osgood proposed the mediation theory which suggested that the physical stimuli exist in our environment have elicited our internal response and lead to our interpretation of the underlined meaning of those presented stimulus. With our 3-level of thought process, we will have our internal stimuli, which are our thoughts and emotion towards the physical stimulus and the internal stimulus will bring up the outward response(s), which are visible feedbacks to the physical stimulus in the environment. Osgood also suggested that by measuring the visible outward response we can determine the intensity of emotion that has been brought up by the physical stimulus. Osgood also proposed a two-stage Meditation learning theory in the language acquisition process in 1954. The theory suggested that the use of language is an expression of mental process which is related to the cultural context of an individual. It suggested that the language acquisition process involves coding and decoding of the psychological structure within the language. His research in
language Language is a structured system of communication. The structure of a language is its grammar and the free components are its vocabulary. Languages are the primary means by which humans communicate, and may be conveyed through a variety of met ...
,
cognition Cognition refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses all aspects of Intellect, intellectual functions and processes such as: perception, attentio ...
, and
neurophysiology Neurophysiology is a branch of physiology Physiology (; ) is the scientific study of functions and mechanisms in a living system. As a sub-discipline of biology Biology is the scientific study of life. It is a natural science wit ...
had provided insight into future studies about multilingual language acquisition with a cross-cultural framework.


Semantic technique—the cross-cultural research tool

Osgood introduced a semantic technique for researchers to measure the connotative meaning of objects and concepts from the human Ecology aspect. The Semantic differential technique focused on three affective dimensions of Evaluation, Potency, and Activity (E-P-A) to evaluate social and cultural related concepts in a valid and reliable way. The practice of the semantic differential technique is being used broadly in social and behavioural science studies.


Development of the atlas of affectivemeanings (1960s–1980s)

To further improve the validity of the semantic differential technique, Osgood took the lead to develop the Atlas of Affective Meanings project from the 1960s to the 1980s. The project is indices of the affective meanings with 20 basic and derived measures of over 600 functionally equivalent concepts by analyzing over 30 language/culture communities from Mexico, Brazil, Japan,
Hong Kong Hong Kong ( (US) or (UK); , ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (abbr. Hong Kong SAR or HKSAR), is a List of cities in China, city and Special administrative regions of China, special ...
, Thailand, India, Iran, Lebanon, Israel, Turkey, Greece, Yugoslavia, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, German, Netherlands, Finland, etc. With the development of the Atlas, affective meanings are used as universal functional markers with the E-P-A dimension and they have high validity in measuring indigenous and cross-cultural comparisons. These affective meanings are being widely applied on social-cultural studies on social dynamics,
international communication International communication (also referred to as the ''study of global communication'' or transnational communication) is the communication practice that occurs across international borders. The need for international communication was due to the ...
, mental illness stigma and connotation of racial concepts, etc. It has a great contribution to the development of cross-cultural researches and also international communications.


Graduated reciprocation in tension reduction (GRIT) strategies

With the rise of the
nuclear arms A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either nuclear fission, fission (fission bomb) or a combination of fission and nuclear fusion, fusion reactions (Thermonuclear weapon, thermonu ...
race that was brought up by the United States and the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a List of former transcontinental countries#Since 1700, transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, ...
during the
Cold War The Cold War is a term commonly used to refer to a period of Geopolitics, geopolitical tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies, the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc. The term ''Cold war (term), co ...
. Osgood proposed the GRIT strategies (Graduated Reciprocation in Tension reduction) in 1962, which means to provide a psychological approach to resolve the tension brought up from the nuclear arm race between the two superpowers. The GRIT strategies are based on the concept of reciprocity and used to rebuild a negotiation platform for two parties who are deadlocked. The introduction of GRIT strategies not only reduced the tension between the two superpowers but also has contributed to solving various social, cultural and political conflicts worldwide.


Honors and awards

Charles Osgood earned many distinctions and honors within the field of psychology throughout his distinguished career. In 1960, the
American Psychological Association The American Psychological Association (APA) is the largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists in the United States, with over 133,000 members, including scientists, educators, clinicians, consultants, and students. It has ...
presented Osgood with the Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions; three years later, Osgood was elected as president of the American Psychological Association. In addition to this, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues presented Charles E. Osgood with the Kurt Lewin Memorial Award in 1971. In the following year, he was elected to the
National Academy of Sciences The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a United States nonprofit, NGO, non-governmental organization. NAS is part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, along with the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the ...
, and as president of the Peace Science Society in 1976. Osgood was also the recipient of the
Guggenheim Fellowship Guggenheim Fellowships are grants that have been awarded annually since by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to those "who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the a ...
twice, in 1955 and again in 1972 in the field of philosophy.


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:Osgood, Charles E Psycholinguists Semanticists American psychology writers American male non-fiction writers American social sciences writers American foreign policy writers Presidents of the American Psychological Association University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign faculty Yale University alumni Writers from Somerville, Massachusetts 1916 births 1991 deaths 20th-century American psychologists 20th-century American male writers