John Kurtz

John Kurtz

Clinical Psychology, Vanderbilt University, 1994

Current Positions

Professor of Psychology, Villanova University

How did you become interested in Personality Assessment?

I realized my interest when I was an undergraduate at Berkeley. I took a course on measurement with Bill Meredith. We were required to write a term paper on some psychological test. I chose Gough's California Psychological Inventory (CPI) and somewhere deep into the assignment, I thought to myself "this isn't work; this is fun".

Tell us about your current job. We are interested in hearing about the different things that people do who work in the area of personality assessment.

I am a university professor. I teach courses in introductory psychology, personality theory, and clinical psychology. I also teach a course in psychological testing and supervise theses in our Master's program. I direct a research program with much help from a team of graduate and undergraduate students. There is a great deal of advising and other service to the department and university. I have done some clinical and consulting work, but academia leaves very little spare time.

What are the most interesting and/or meaningful aspects of your job?

I like working with young adults. It is fun to see students get excited about psychology. The most basic principles can be very eye-opening the first time they are encountered. The most gratifying thing is knowing I was part of someone's path to discovering that he or she wants to become a psychologist.

Tell us how you initially learned about and joined SPA.

During my first year of graduate school, my advisor Les Morey talked about SPA and then attended the annual meeting. By that point, joining SPA seemed like the logical thing for me to do. I did not join APA until five years later.

How has SPA impacted or benefited you or your career?

I have had the opportunity to meet and work with so many great psychologists. Their impact on my ideas and viewpoint would be impossible to estimate. The greatest benefit is the warmth, collegiality, and support of this community of smart and sensitive people.

As we look forward to SPA's 100th anniversary in 2038, what do you think is important in order for the field of personality assessment to thrive and to benefit others?

We must resist being content with the status quo, with the popular or familiar, and with what we were taught or trained in during our formative years. We have to keep striving to make better tests and do better research. I am sure personality assessment can benefit society, but it must remain progressive to realize its potential and answer to its detractors.

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