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John C. Flanagan

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John C. Flanagan

John C. Flanagan
Born 7 January 1906
Armour, South Dakota
Died 15 April 1996
Menlo Park, Calif.

John Clemans Flanagan, (January 7, 1906 - April 15, 1996) was a noted psychologist most known for developing the Critical Incident Technique, which identifies and classifies behaviors associated with the success or failure of human activity.[1] He was a pioneer of aviation psychology. During World War II Flanagan was commissioned by the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1941 to head an aviation psychology program that developed tests to help identify pilots suitable for combat missions.

Flanagan was born in Armour, South Dakota on January 7, 1906, and raised in Seattle, Washington. He died on April 15, 1996 at his home in Menlo Park, California.[2] He graduated from the University of Washington in 1929, and was the starting quarterback on the football team his senior year. He received his doctorate from Harvard University in 1934.

In 1946, Flanagan founded the American Institutes for Research, a Critical Incident Technique to education and other fields.

In 1960 Flanagan initiated Project Talent, a massive survey of more than 400,000 high school students throughout the United States.[3] To follow up on the needs revealed by Project Talent, Flanagan developed Project PLAN-Program for Learning in Accordance with Needs, an entire curriculum from grades one through twelve designed to meet the individual needs of all students. This was one of the earliest and most comprehensive individualized computer-assisted learning programs.[4]

Among the honors Flanagan received were: Legion of Merit by the Army Air Corps; Raymond F. Longacre Award of the Aero-Medical Association, Edward Lee Thorndike Award of the APA Division of Educational Psychology, 1976 Distinguished Professional Contribution Award of APA, Phi Delta Kappa Award for Outstanding Contributions to Education, Development and Research, ETS Award for Distinguished Service to Measurement; Professional Practice Award of APA’s Division of Industrial/Organizational Psychology.

External links

  • John C. Flanagan/Aviation Psychology - Giving Psychology Away
  • The Critical Incident Technique, John C. Flanagan, Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 54, No.4, July 1954
  • Karen Freeman (April 28, 1996). “John Flanagan, 90, Psychologist Who Devised Pilot Aptitude Test”. New York Times.
  •,9171,896531,00.html Education: Talent Census, Time Magazine, Friday, Aug. 24, 1962.

The First Fifteen Years of Project Talent: Implications for Career Guidance, Flanagan, J. C., Vocational Guidance Quarterly, 22, 8-14, 1974.

  • The American Institutes for Research History Timeline


  1. ^ The Critical Incident Technique. John C. Flanagan, Psychological Bulletin, Vol.54, No.4, July 1954
  2. ^ Freeman, Karen. John Flanagan, 90, Psychologist Who Devised Pilot Aptitude Test. The New York Times, 1996
  3. ^ Education Talent Census. Time Magazine, Friday, August 24, 1962
  4. ^ Program for Learning in Accordance with Needs. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Meeting, Chicago, Illinois, Feb. 1968
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