Professor Emeritus of Psychology Julian Rotter Dies

Rotter was identified by the American Psychological Association as one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century.

A candle burning.

An undated photo of Professor Julian Rotter, from the psychology department’s Founding Faculty webpage.

Professor emeritus of psychology Julian Rotter died on Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. He was 97.

Rotter, known as Jules to his friends, was one of the Psychology Department’s most celebrated faculty members, arriving in 1963 from Ohio State University and remaining at UConn until his retirement in 1986.

In 1988, he received the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Contribution award, and the APA also named him as one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century. The citation from the APA was given for his pioneering social learning framework that transformed behavioral approaches to personality and clinical psychology.

“An inspiring model for the rigorous theory-guided analysis of the most complex human behavior, Julian Rotter, by his writing, teaching, and personal example, won the admiration and gratitude of a generation of students, clinicians, and scholars, and profoundly changed theory and practice in the field,” the APA citation read.

Rotter integrated the psychological concepts of expectancy and reinforcement, and built an enduring early bridge between the psychology of learning and its diverse social, clinical, and personality applications. He published many seminal studies of the variable of internal versus external locus of control, which provided the foundation for years of research on psychological choice and perceived control in several different disciplines.