Dr. Frederic (“Fritz”) Kuder was born on June 23, 1903, so today I’m reminiscing about his career.
Kuder majored in English at the University of Arizona because he liked English, but he didn’t have a particular career plan at that time. While there he made a close friendship with a fellow student who happened to be the son of the renowned psychologist J. McKeen Cattell, who was, at the time, president of the Psychological Corporation, as well as publisher of several science periodicals.
At Kuder’s graduation in 1925, the senior Cattell offered Kuder a job at his New York City office, and Kuder became an editor for American Men of Science series.
In that time, Kuder developed an interest in the new field of vocational guidance, and after a couple of years with Cattell, he began work on a master’s degree at the University of Michigan, with George Myers, one of the founders of the vocational guidance movement in the United States.
He completed his studies a few months before the financial crash that signaled America’s Great Depression, and considered himself lucky to have found a job in the personnel research department of Procter & Gamble. The department was headed by a psychologist who had earned his master’s degree at Carnegie Tech under the supervision of E.K. Strong, who subsequently developed his Vocational Interest Blank, and interest inventory that in many revisions is a premier tool of vocational counseling today.
P&G closed its personnel research department in 1934, in the depth of the Depression, and Kuder, having been given a taste of psychological test development, began his doctoral studies at Ohio State University. Kuder had seen the Strong Interest Blank during his time at the University of Michigan, and thought at the time he could produce a better inventory.
In his first semester at Ohio State University, he assembled 40 sets of five activities each, like “Work in a garden,” or “Browse in a library.” He submitted these to a subject pool of 500 students, asking them to rank each set in order of their preferences. From these responses he identified items that co-varied strongly, enabling him to assemble reliable scales that reflected a kind of interest, like Science.
He then found a number of items that were not correlated with the Science scale, but were strongly related to each of three, making a scale that he named Literary. He gathered more sets of activities and repeated the process until he had the seven scales of the first Kuder Preference Record, which was sold by the University of Chicago Bookstore in 1938.
Dr. Donald Zytowski served a key role in facilitating internal and third-party research for Kuder, including the development of new assessments and content for the vast database of career biographies in the Kuder® Career Interests Assessment.