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Otto Klineberg (November 1899, Quebec, Canada - 6 March 1992, Bethesda, Maryland) was a Canadian psychologist. He held professorships in social psychology at Columbia University and the University of Paris. His pioneering work in the 1930s on the intelligence of white and black students in the United States and his evidence as an expert witness in Delaware were instrumental in winning the Supreme Court school segregation case, Brown v. Board of Education, in 1954. Through his work in UNESCO and elsewhere, he helped to promote psychology internationally.


Born in Quebec, Klineberg was raised in Montreal. He obtained a Bachelor's degree from McGill University in 1919, a Master's degree in philosophy from Harvard University in 1920, a medical degree from McGill in 1925 and a Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia University in 1927. He remained at Columbia as chairman of the newly created department of social psychology.

He married Selma Gintzler in 1933, with whom he had a daughter and two sons.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, Klineberg held a senior post in the social sciences in UNESCO. He helped found the International Social Science Council and the International Union of Psychological Science, on which he served on the executive committee (1951–1969), as secretary-general (1955–1960) and as president (1960–1963).

From 1961 to 1982 he was professor at the University of Paris, where he directed the International Center for Intergroup Relations until 1982.

In 1963 Klineberg was president of the 17th International Congress of Psychology, held in Washington DC. He was also president of the World Federation for Mental Health, the Inter-America Society of Psychology, the Eastern Psychological Association of the United States and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.

On his retirement to Manhattan in 1982, he taught part-time at the City University of New York until 1990. He died following a brief period of Parkinson's disease.

Awards and honorsEdit

Selected bibliographyEdit

  • Experimental study of speed and others factors in ″racial″ differences, New York, 1928.
  • Negro intelligence and selective migration, Columbia University Press, 1935.
  • Race differences, New York : Harper and brothers, 1935.
  • Characteristics of the American Negro. Harper and brothers, 1944
  • Social psychology, H. Holt and Company, 1948
  • Tensions Affecting International Understanding. A Survey of Research. Social Science Research Council, 1950
  • Race and psychology, Paris : UNESCO, 1951.
  • Nationalism and tribalism among African students. A study of social identity (with Marisa Zavalloni), 1969.
  • Étudiants du Tiers-monde en Europe. Problèmes d'adaptation, une étude effectuée en Autriche, en France, aux Pays-Bas et en Yougoslavie (with Jeanne Ben Brika), Paris : Mouton, 1972.
  • Vers une meilleure compréhension internationale : l'apport contemporain de la psychologie, Éditions Inter-nationales, Paris, 1974.
  • International educational exchange : an assessment of its nature and its prospects, (with Heine von Alemann) École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, 1976.


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