Yerkes, Robert

Yerkes, Robert (Mearns)

(1876–1956) psychobiologist, primate researcher; born in Breadysville, Pa. He studied at Harvard, where he taught comparative psychology (1901–17). During World War I, at the University of Minnesota, he promoted the development of intelligence tests for servicemen. With Edward L. Thorndike and John B. Watson, he was among the first American advocates for the study of animal behavior. He developed refined experimental methods for determining how animals learn and how this learning is related to their basic drives. He became professor of psychobiology at Yale University in 1929 and established the Yerkes Laboratories for Primate Biology in Orange Park, Fla. (The center is now at Emory Unniversity, Atlanta, Ga.) His most influential works on primate behavior include The Mental Life of Monkeys and Apes (1916), The Mind of a Gorilla (1927), and The Great Apes (1929). In 1944 he was named professor emeritus at Yale.
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