Lifetime Achievement Award
Raymond Bernard Cattell

In June 1997, Dr. Raymond B. Cattell was selected to receive the American Psychological Foundation Gold Medal Award for Lifetime Achievement in Psychological Science, and an announcement was published in the American Psychologist.  The prestigious Lifetime Achievement award has been presented to only a dozen people in the history of psychology.

However, before the award was presented to Dr. Cattell at the American Psychological Association Convention in August 1997, certain critics objected to the award, writing to the APA and accusing Dr. Cattell of racism in some of his writings.  These accusations gained a great deal of publicity, particularly when the APF elected to delay the award until a committee could be formed to investigate the allegations.  Dr. Cattell issued a statement denying the allegations, but many of headlines in papers worldwide had already given credence to the unproven claims.   Leading psychologists wrote letters in support of Dr. Cattell, objecting to the decision to delay the award, many of them resigning from the APA.

In December 1997, Dr. Cattell wrote an open letter to the APA to correct the misconceptions that these critics promulgated.  In this letter, he objected to the public examination of his personal beliefs (controversial, but not racial) in the context of his scientific work for which the award was bestowed.  In order to put an end to this personal attack, particularly in the light of his failing health, he wrote a letter to the APA president  declining the award and removing his name from consideration for the award.  Shortly afterwards, on February 2, 1998, Dr. Cattell died.  As part of an obituary in the APA Monitor, the APA made a statement explaining Dr. Cattell's withdrawal and discontinuation of the committee evaluation.

Additional background information


Open letter to the APA from Raymond B. Cattell  


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