Intelligence gathering comprised another critical component of work in the psychological warfare field. Intelligence did not necessarily require firsthand espionage, and the term often described the analysis of national character from a distance. The OWI's Bureau of Overseas Intelligence, for example, was headed by Leonard Doob, a psychologist affiliated with the Yale Institute of Human Relations. Its Washington research staff numbered around one hundred, with branch offices in New York and San Francisco. This outfit shared much of the general approach, already outlined, to psychological warfare. Its work disseminating "propaganda" to enemy countries and "information" to allied and neutral countries drew inspiration from national character studies and attempts to identify the strengths and weaknesses in enemy morale.
The OWI Bureau of Overseas Intelligence also shared most of the headaches of other sykewarriors, especially in trying to get policy-makers to appreciate the advantages of allowing psychological experts a determining role in the policy-making process. According to Doob, the work of his researchers was used when it suited the interests of policy-makers and ignored when it did not, an indignity Doob attempted to remedy by spending the latter part of the war hobnobbing with high-level policy-makers and functioning as a marketer of behavioral research. Although a true believer in the enlightening potential of psychological expertise, Doob admitted that he found the decision-makers as irrational as the bureau's German or Japanese research subjects.
He [Doob, referring to himself] had learned the valuable lesson, as frankness increased his frustrations, that he would be more valuable as a social scientist and happier as a human being if he treated almost every individual like a psychiatric patient who had to be understood in the gentlest possible fashion before he could be expected to swallow the pill of research. In the Overseas Branch, this meant being pleasant to what seemed to be millions of people—which, for this writer, was quite a strain.
Firsthand intelligence gathering was the main job of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor and model for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which was established by the National Se-
curity Act of 1947. The OSS Psychological Division, organized in September 1941 and directed by University of California psychologist Robert C. Tryon, was staffed by eighteen psychologists. A few names have been released, but the identities of individuals affiliated with the division beyond 1942 are still considered confidential for reasons of national security.
The division's own mission statement, "Role of Psychology in Defense," envisioned an ambitious morale program at home as well as abroad, supplemented by a variety of highly classified special projects. Although it had an even more top-secret image than other morale agencies, the OSS Psychological Division used the very same conceptual tools (national character) and data-gathering methods (surveys, polls, and in-depth interviews). It also called upon the same civilian consultants and professional networks for aid: officers of the APA and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI), to mention but two examples. The OSS frequently used a farming-out method, in which key mediators, like Harvard psychologist Gordon All-port, would identify psychological experts with special skills, from foreign languages to inside knowledge about German colleagues. "The OSS interest in the problem should remain a secret," Robert MacLeod reminded Allport, "although you would be free to let it be known that your findings would be communicated to the government."
The selection of intelligence agents was another critically important service provided by psychological experts to the OSS. Like many other activities in the field of psychological warfare and personnel selection, the OSS selection procedure was constructed with German psychology in mind. American experts were all too aware that their German counterparts were ahead of them. Highly effective methods of officer selection had been developed throughout the Nazi period, creating "an unprecedented type of organization for human engineering." But the Americans were unwilling to be beaten at their own game. "America should have no qualms about adopting some of the best features of German military. psychology," they argued, since "the Nazis have unblushingly expropriated the findings of many American scholars."
The OSS assessment staff, whose driving forces included Henry Murray (an eclectic physician, psychologist, and psychoanalyst) and Donald MacKinnon (a psychologist), devised the most elaborate and thorough procedures in the entire U.S. military. The three-and-one-half-day ordeal included cover stories to disguise personal identity, simulated enemy interrogations, psychodrama improvisations, and a variety
of objective and projective psychological tests (fig. 3). This enormous investment of expert time and attention was certainly due in part to the perception that the stakes were very high; those selected after the lengthy ordeal would play key wartime roles. But it was also due to the fact that selection requirements for the OSS were more confusing than the measurement of particular skills or aptitudes, which was the standard requirement in most branches of the U.S. military. The personal qualities and talents necessary for a good intelligence agent were unpredictable, at least compared to those of a good aircraft mechanic, as MacKinnon admitted when he noted that "nobody knows who would make a good spy or an effective guerrilla fighter. Consequently, large numbers of misfits were recruited from the very beginning." The "assessment of men" (also the title of the 1948 book which documented the work of the OSS team) "is the scientific art of arriving at sufficient conclusions from insufficient data."
Like other wartime experts, the OSS assessors believed they were making a patriotic contribution and taking advantage of a golden opportunity to upgrade science at the same time. Where could they have
found a more perfect place to aid the war effort and simultaneously validate personnel selection technologies? In later years, some of the OSS experts had lingering doubts about their wartime activities. Henry Murray, for example, chief of OSS Selection Station S, was transformed into a militant pacifist and peace activist after the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, thought the OSS should be disbanded completely, and strenuously objected to the establishment of the CIA. Donald MacKinnon, on the other hand, went on to institutionalize the OSS selection procedures at the Institute of Personality Assessment and Research at the University of California, whose goal was nothing less than "developing techniques to identity the personality characteristics which make for successful and happy adjustment to modern industrial society."
For the most part, policy-makers whose own agendas did not include the scientific or professional advancement of psychology were not disturbed that the interests of nationalism and science conveniently converged during the war for their expert counselors. They were impressed by psychologists' work, content to benefit in tangible ways, and more than happy to leave the theoretical debates to the experts. In 1945, when Congressional hearings were held to determine if scientists' wartime contributions had been sufficient to win them a national foundation of their own (a process that eventually culminated in the founding of the National Science Foundation), much testimony, such as the following, was offered by military planners about the usefulness of OSS psychological activities, in personnel selection as well as in psychological warfare.
In all of the intelligence that enters into the waging of war soundly and the waging of peace soundly, it is the social scientists who make a huge contribution in the field in which they are professionals and the soldiers are the laymen. . . . The psychological and political weapons contributed significantly to the confusion, war weariness, and poor morale on the enemy's home and fighting fronts. There is no doubt that operations like these shortened the war and spared many American lives. . . . Were there to develop a dearth of social scientists, all national intelligence agencies servicing policy makers in peace or war would directly be handicapped.
Such public declarations proved that psychology's accomplishments were real as well as imagined, at least insofar as reality was assessed by those in a position to further the status and funding of psychological work. There was certainly no shortage of testimonials from policy-
makers that psychological experts were indispensable to the successful execution of war in the fields of human management, enemy morale, and intelligence. Experts' patriotic fervor, practical skills, soothing insights, and flair for self-promotion all convinced many policy-makers charged with military and national security planning that psychological talent would be equally necessary in future periods of war and peace. The wartime record of those psychological experts who worked on the home front, on questions ranging from U.S. public opinion and military morale to the psychology of prejudice, is examined in the next chapter.