Robert Hogan (psychologist)

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Robert Hogan
Robert Hogan headshot.jpg
Robert Hogan

1937 (age 83–84)
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
Known forPersonality testing
Spouse(s)Joyce Hogan (m. 1974; d. 2012) Wendy Hogan (m. 2014)
Scientific career
InstitutionsJohns Hopkins University, University of Tulsa

Robert Hogan (born 1937) is an American psychologist known for his innovations in personality testing, and is an international authority on personality assessment, leadership, and organizational effectiveness. Along with Joyce Hogan, Robert Hogan's research created socioanalytic theory. [1]

Early life[edit]

Robert Hogan was born in Los Angeles in 1937 and grew up in Fontana, California. At the time Fontana was rural. His parents moved to California from Oklahoma during the Great Depression. [2]

Young Hogan was bright and curious, but found school tedious and boring; he also struggled with authority relations and was frequently in trouble for his disruptive influence in the classroom. Although Hogan had serious authority issues, he had a strong sense of morality. His personal sense of fairness was influenced by the indignities and injustices he experienced growing up poor and in his struggles to reach the middle class. [3]

Outside school, he was fascinated by the study of animals–particularly the insects and desert reptiles of California. Upon his own volition, adolescent Hogan read Freud and Darwin. [4]


While Robert Hogan was in the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps he began attending UCLA in 1956 on a Navy Scholarship, graduating Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1960. He pursued physics, engineering, and philosophy, but found them to be frustrating because of their lack of practical certainty. However, these disciplines exposed him to the importance of data, mathematical modeling, and existentialism. [5]

In 1964 he began his Ph.D. at University of California, Berkeley and graduated in 1967.[6]Hogan pursued a PhD in personality psychology at the University of California, Berkley. The Berkley faculty included many esteemed psychologists such as Jack Block, Richard Lazarus, and Ed Ghiselli but it was the local Institute for Personality Assessment and Research (IPAR) where he felt most at home. The IPAR staff included Harrison Gough, Frank Barron, Donald McKinnon, Ravenna Helson, and other imaginative psychologists dedicated to the empirical study of high-level effectiveness. [7]


After school, Robert Hogan served as an active duty U.S. Navy officer from 1960-1963 for three years.During his time at sea he turned around his gunnery unit and it eventually became the highest performing unit on the ship. He received a letter of commendation from the Secretary of the Navy. Hogan reports quarreling with his peers often because he treated the sailers under his command as equals. This philosophy affected his popularity with fellow officers.[8]

Once Hogan was discharged in 1963 he found work evaluating teenagers who got in trouble with the law at the San Bernardino County (California) Probation Department from 1963-1964. His boss was a former student of Carl Rogers. Hogan concluded that there were few neurotics and even fewer psychotics among the delinquent population he evaluated, but all of them seemed to have a personality disorder. [9]

He then became a Professor of Psychology and Social Relations at The Johns Hopkins University from 1967 to 1982. His first submission to the Journal of Applied Psychology, a study showing how personality predicted the performance of police officers, was rejected by the editor who commented, “Everyone knows these tests don’t work.” In classic Hogan form, he declared war against the critics of personality and fought them on two fronts: by continuing his own research and by creating a reputable outlet for the research of others.[10]

In 1977, he convinced the chairman of the APA’s Publications and Commu- nications Board that there was a lot of important personality research but few prestigious outlets in which to publish it. The chairman established a new section in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology focused on personality and appointed Hogan as editor. The move outraged social psychologists, but under his leadership the section quickly became influential and JPSP became one of the most successful APA journals. It also made it possible to have a career in personality psychology, and articles by Dan McAdams and Dean Keith Simonton soon became classics in the larger field of psychology. [11]

He was McFarlin Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at The University of Tulsa from 1982 to 2001.[12]

He has received a number of research and teaching awards and is president and co-founded Hogan Assessment Systems in 1987, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma.[13]

Hogan Assessment Systems[edit]

Hogan Assessment Systems is a startup founded in 1989 by Drs. Robert and Joyce Hogan. It was the first startup to scientifically measure personality for business. Today it offers products and services in 56 countries and 47 languages. Dr. Robert Hogan remains president of Hogan Assessments. [14]

Socioanalytic Theory[edit]

The Hogan Assessments serve to evaluate Dr. Hogan's socioanalytic theory.

Socioanalytic theory draws on key ideas of Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, and George Herbert Mead to explain why people act as they do. All three writers noted that humans evolved as group living animals; we also know that all groups contain status hierarchies and myths about their origins and purpose.

This suggests that the big problems in life concern: (1) Getting along with other people; (2) Acquiring status and power; and (3) Finding one’s place in the group. In modern life, individual differences in the ability to solve these three problems translate into individual differences in career success. Successful people live longer, have healthier lives, and are better able to care for their dependents—and that is the definition of biological fitness. Thus, Socioanalytic theory is about fitness and career success.

Socioanalytic theory defines personality from two perspectives: (1) Identity; and (2) Reputation. Identity concerns who you think you are; reputation concerns who we think you are. Research on identity has produced few useful generalizations; in contrast, research on reputation has been highly productive; e.g., the Five-Factor Model—a taxonomy of reputation—is a useful way to organize personality research findings. Past behavior predicts future behavior; reputation is a summary of past behavior; thus, reputation is the best possible data source for predicting future behavior.

Research in Socioanalytic theory focuses on four broad areas: (1) Personality and occupational performance; (2) Personality and leadership effectiveness; (3) Personality and managerial incompetence; and (4) Personality and effective team performance (team research historically ignored effectiveness). Occupational performance, leadership effectiveness, and managerial incompetence can be predicted with valid personality measures. Team effectiveness depends on putting the right people (defined by personality) in the right positions (defined by team role).

Socioanalytic theory argues that social skill is the key to career success—because social skill translates identity into reputation. That is, people who are socially skilled are better able to earn reputations that are consistent with their identities (i.e., become in the eyes of others the persons they want to be). Socioanalytic theory also maintains that feedback from valid personality assessment can create “strategic self-awareness” (understanding how one impacts others). Strategic self-awareness allows ambitious people to maximize their career potential and minimize their own intra- and inter-personal shortcomings. Thus, strategic self-awareness increases the likelihood of career success. Successful careers lead to better individual outcomes than unsuccessful careers [15]

Personality Psychology Research[edit]

Hogan’s own research has been prolific and highly influential.

Hogan has contributed to the development of socio-analytic theory, which maintains that the core of personality is based on evolutionary adaptations. Humans, in this view, always live in groups and groups always demonstrate status hierarchies. This in turn leads to two further generalizations: people are motivated to get along with other group members but also to get ahead (to enjoy the prequisites of status). Hogan, an iconoclastic observer of American psychology, maintains that personality is best examined from the perspective of the observer (reputation) rather than the actor (a person's identity). As a consequence, Hogan has insisted that personality tools should be evaluated in terms of how well reputations (defined on personality tests) predict behavior on the job and in relationships.[16]

Hogan is the author of more than 300 journal articles, chapters and books.[17] His book Personality and the Fate of Organizations was published by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates in June 2006. The 167-page book offers a systematic account of the nature of personality, showing how to use personality to understand organizations, to staff teams, and to evaluate, select, deselect and train people. He is the co-editor of the Handbook of Personality Psychology and has published the Hogan Personality Inventory, the Hogan Development Survey, the Motives Values and Preferences Inventory, and the Hogan Business Reasoning Inventory, as well as the Hogan Guide (2007). In 2012 he and Gordon Curphy authored The Rocket Model, a practical model for building and managing high-performing teams.[18]

He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Society for Industrial/Organizational Psychology.[19][20]

Selected Bibliography[edit]

Hogan, R (2006). Personality and the Fate of Organizations. Psychology Press

Hogan, R, & Smither, R. (2008). Personality: Theories and Applications. Hogan Press.

Awards and Recognition[edit]

Dr. Hogan was deemed by his peers to be one of the world's greatest living psychologists for his contributions to personality psychology.

In 2020 he was given the RHR International Award for Excellence in Consulting Psychology at the Society of Consulting Psychology (SCP) annual conference on February 8 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[21]


"In the 20th century, 167 million people were killed for political reasons, 30 million people were killed by invading armies, 137 million people were killed by their own government. So it really matters who’s in charge. I mean, if you get the wrong people in charge, they’ll kill you." [22]

"From the point of view of a lot of economists, leadership ability is completely fungible, completely interchangeable. It’s simply not true. Some people have a talent for leadership, most people don’t have much talent for leadership, and some people are like Muammar Gaddafi, they’re just actually quite disastrous. And the data shows that the personality of the CEO counts for somewhere between 14 and 17 per cent of the variance in a firm’s performance. So it really matters who’s in charge from a financial point of view.” [23]

“Leadership is all about being able to get people to follow you when they are free to defect. And I can tell you where it is relevant; it has to do with, how do you retain high potentials.Because the high potentials are free to defect. So then leadership becomes absolutely essential to keep them on board, because they can take their act elsewhere. If they’re not free to defect, it’s not leadership, it’s something else. This is why I always say military leadership is an oxymoron.Because in the military, they say‘Do this’ and you say ‘Why’, they say,‘These stripes on my sleeve, that’s why.’ Or, ‘I can have you shot if you don’t do it. That’s why.’ That’s not leadership. That’s just coercion.”[24]

“In the context of human evolution, leadership was an absolutely essential resource for the survival of the group. The best-led groups were the ones that prevailed. The worst-led groups ended up being someone else’s dinner. And my point is, people have built-in, pre-wired cognitive categories that they use to evaluate the leadership potential of other people. Because it was so important in the history of the species, we’re pre-wired to be able to evaluate.[25]


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  6. ^, - Oklahoma's Official Website. "Oklahoma Psychologists License Renewal". Retrieved 2016-06-07.
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  13. ^ "Team Hogan | Hogan Assessments". Retrieved 2016-06-03.
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  17. ^ "Why Hogan? | Hogan Assessments". Retrieved 2016-06-23.
  18. ^ Curphy, Gordon; Hogan, Robert (2012-04-26). The Rocket Model: Practical Advice for Building High Performing Teams. Hogan Press. ISBN 9780984096985.
  19. ^ "APA Membership Types: Fellows". Retrieved 2016-06-23.
  20. ^ "SIOP Fellows". Retrieved 2016-06-23.
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