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Alan Elms

Alan Elms

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I am retired from classroom teaching, but I continue to do research in psychobiography. My book, "Uncovering Lives: The Uneasy Alliance of Biography and Psychology," includes illustrative case studies of biographical subjects in the areas that most interest me: personality theory, creative literature, and politics. I am currently working on a book about Sigmund Freud and his most vociferous critics, and on a full-scale biography of Paul M. A. Linebarger, a China scholar and psychological warfare expert who is now most remembered as an influential science fiction writer under the pseudonym Cordwainer Smith. I also continue to write occasionally about obedience to authority and the ethical controversies surrounding Stanley Milgram's research on obedience, since I was Milgram's original research assistant.

Primary Interests:

  • Attitudes and Beliefs
  • Ethics and Morality
  • Personality, Individual Differences
  • Persuasion, Social Influence
  • Political Psychology

Research Group or Laboratory:

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Journal Articles:

  • Elms, A. C. (2009). Obedience lite. American Psychologist, 64, 32-36.
  • Elms, A. C. (2005). Jung’s lives. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 41, 331-346.
  • Elms, A. C. (2004). The psychologist who empathized with rats: James Tiptree, Jr. as Alice B. Sheldon, PhD. Science Fiction Studies, 31, 81-96.
  • Elms, A. C. (1988). Freud as Leonardo: Why the first psychobiography went wrong. Journal of Personality, 56, 19-40.
  • Elms, A. C. (1987). The personalities of Henry A. Murray. Perspectives in Personality, 2, 1-14.
  • Elms, A. C. (1986). From House to Haig: Private life and public style in American foreign policy advisers. Journal of Social Issues, 42(2), 33-53.
  • Elms, A. C. (1984). The creation of Cordwainer Smith. Science-Fiction Studies, 11, 264-283.
  • Elms, A. C. (1982). Freud and Minna. Psychology Today, 16(12), 40-46.
  • Elms, A. C. (1981). Skinner’s dark year and Walden Two. American Psychologist, 36, 470-479.
  • Elms, A. C. (1980). Freud, Irma, Martha: Sex and marriage in the "Dream of Irma’s injection." Psychoanalytic Review, 67, 83-109.
  • Elms, A. C. (1977). "The Three Bears": Four interpretations. Journal of American Folklore, 90, 257-273.
  • Elms, A. C. (1975). The crisis of confidence in social psychology. American Psychologist, 30, 967-976.
  • Elms, A. C., & Milgram, S. (1966). Personality characteristics associated with obedience and defiance toward authoritative command. Journal of Experimental Research in Personality, 1, 282-289.

Other Publications:

  • Elms, A. C. (2001). Apocryphal Freud: Sigmund Freud’s most famous "quotations" and their actual sources. Annual of Psychoanalysis, Volume XXIX: Sigmund Freud and His Impact on the Modern World (pp. 83-104). Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press.
  • Elms, A. C. (1982). Keeping deception honest: Justifying conditions for social scientific research stratagems. In T. L. Beauchamp et al. (Eds.), Ethical Issues in Social Science Research (pp. 232-245). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Elms, A. C., & Heller, B. (2005). Twelve ways to say "Lonesome": Assessing error and control in the music of Elvis Presley. In W. T. Schultz (Ed.), The Handbook of Psychobiography. New York: Oxford University Press.

Alan Elms
Department of Psychology
University of California, Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, California 95616
United States of America

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