Encyclopedia of the History of Psychological Theories

2012 Edition
| Editors: Robert W. Rieber

Spence, Kenneth

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0463-8_372

Basic Biographical Information

Kenneth Wartinbee Spence was an American neo-behavioral psychologist, recognized for his theoretical and experimental studies of conditioning and learning.

Spence was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1907 to Mary E. Wartinbee and William James Spence, an electrical engineer, and raised in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Spence attended West Hill High School, followed by McGill University in Montreal, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1929, and a master’s degree in 1930. Prior to graduation from McGill, Spence married Isabel Temte, and had two children (Amsel 1995, p. 335).

At McGill, Spence was awarded the Wales Gold Medal in Mental Sciences and the university’s Governor-General’s Medal for Research. After completion of his master’s, Spence attended Yale University to study with the renowned primate biologist Robert M. Yerkes and behavioral psychologist Clark L. Hull. Spence’s research at Yale focused on discrimination learning in animals, and in 1933 he...

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  1. Alic, M. (2001). Spence, Kenneth W. In The gale encyclopedia of psychology (2nd ed., pp. 620–621). Detroit: Gale.Google Scholar
  2. Amsel, A. (1995) Kenneth Wartinbee Spence. A biographical memoir. National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved from http://www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/biomems/kspence.html
  3. Kenneth S. (2008). New World Encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Kenneth_Spence
  4. Wiseman, D. B. (2000). Kenneth Spence’s human learning research program. History of Psychology, 3(3), 262–283.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fordham University Graduate School of Social ServiceNew YorkUSA