Dr. Evelyn Hooker



Dr. Evelyn Hooker(September 2, 1907–November 18, 1996)- was a North American psychologist most notable for her 1957 paper "The Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexual" in which she administered psychological tests to groups of self-identified homosexuals and heterosexuals and asked experts, based on those tests alone, to select the homosexual people. The experiment, which other researchers subsequently repeated, demonstrates that most self-identified homosexuals are no worse in social adjustment than the general population.

During the 1940s, she first became interested in what would turn out to be her life's work. In 1942 while a teacher at UCLA, Evelyn married writer Don Caldwell. She became close to one of her students, Sam Fromm, who introduced her in 1943 to the gay and lesbian subculture of the time. He challenged her to scientifically study "people like him."Despite the social, moral and scientific climate of the post-war period, Hooker became increasingly convinced that most gay men were perfectly socially adjusted and that this could be proven through scientific tests. Over the next two decades, she became established professionally.

Hooker used three different psychological tests for her study: the TAT, the Make-a-Picture-Story test (MAPS test), and the Rorschach inkblot test. Hooker presented a team of 3 expert evaluators with 60 unmarked psychological profiles. First, she contacted Bruno Klopfer, an expert on Rorschach tests. Then Edwin Shneidman, creator of the MAPS test, The third expert was Dr Mortimer Mayer who was so certain he would be able to tell the two groups apart that he went through the process twice. The three evaluators agreed that in terms of adjustment, there were no differences between the members of each group.

The 1960s saw her work win a wider audience, and her conclusions were taken up by the gay rights movement. In 1961 Hooker was invited to lecture in Europe and in 1967, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) asked her to produce a report on what the institution should do about homosexual men. Richard Nixon's election in 1969 delayed the publication of the report which was published by a magazine and without authorization in 1970. The report recommended the decriminalization of homosexuality and the provision of similar rights to both homosexual and heterosexual people. This was great news for the blossoming gay rights movement who seized on this research opportunity. She retired from her research at the age of 63 and opened a private practice. Most of her clients were gay men and lesbians. Dr. Hooker died of natural causes on Nov. 18th. 1996.