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Ruth (Hartley) Horowitz



Training Location(s):

PhD, Columbia University, (1944)

MA, Columbia University, (1932)

BA, Cornell University, (1930)

Primary Affiliation(s):

Brooklyn College, (1945-1946)

The City College of New York, (1946-1947)

Carolyn Zachry Institute, (1947-1958)

Long Island University, (1961-1963)

University of Hawaii, (1967-1968)

University of British Columbia, (1968)

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, (1968-1977)

Murdoch University, (1975-1976)

Media Links:


Career Focus:
 child development; development of sex roles; personality; racial identity; projective tests.


Ruth Edith Horowitz (Hartley) was born on May 26, 1910 in New York City. She was born into a Jewish family and completed her primary and secondary school education in New York. In 1930, Horowitz received her B.A. from Cornell University. She then attended Teachers College of Columbia University and received her M.A. in 1932.


Soon after her M.A., in 1935, Horowitz married Eugene Leonard Horowitz (Hartley). In 1942, Ruth and Eugene changed their surname from Horowitz to Hartley to avoid discrimination on the basis of their Jewish origin. That year, Horowitz put her academic career on hold so she could manage her household and rear her two children. While absent from her studies, Horowitz accepted a position as an assistant regional supervisor of the New York State Department of Education (1936-1937). In 1939, she returned to psychology and worked at the Family Service Society of Yonkers as a clinical psychologist.


Horowitz then pursued her doctoral studies at Columbia University. In 1944, at the age of 34, she received her Ph.D. in psychology. For her dissertation, Horowitz conducted an experiment that examined the sociality in boys from 10-12 years of age. The dissertation titled, Sociality in preadolescent boys, was published in 1946 as a 117-page journal article.


In 1945 Horowitz received her first academic appointment at Brooklyn College, where she was an instructor in psychology for a year (1945-1946). She then joined her husband at The City College of New York, from 1946-1947. Horowitz’s longest held position of 11 years (1947-1958) was at the Carolyn Zachry Institute where she had the role of principal investigator of a project involving mental health and children’s play. Following her research at Carolyn Zachry, Horowitz pursued academic positions at a number of different institutions. She worked as an associate professor of psychology at Long Island University (1961-1963). She then lectured at various colleges and universities in Australia and New Zealand (1964-1967). Next, she accepted the position of research professor in the human development department of University of Hawaii (1967-1968). Then, Horowitz went on to teach at the University of British Columbia (Canada) (1968), after which, she became professor and chairperson of the department of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (1968-1977). During this time she held the concurrent position of visiting professor of psychology and chairperson of the department of psychology at Murdoch University (Australia) (1975-1976). In 1977, Horowitz retired with the title of professor emerita of Growth and Development and moved with her husband to Scottsdale, Arizona.


Horowitz held many concurrent positions on research projects, most often as director. Her primary research interests included: cognitive development, projective techniques, sex role development, early childhood education and personality development. In 1938, Horowitz co-authored the first article on projective tests with fellow colleague, Lois Barclay Murphy titled: Projective Methods in the Psychological Study of Children. The paper focused on the various projective methods used in psychological testing and outlined the major differences in each tests function. Before Murphy and Horowitz’s paper, projective tests were often overlooked in psychology in favour of other psychological measures. However, Murphy and Horowitz demonstrated the wide range of applications available for projective testing.


To expand her own research, Horowitz investigated other projective techniques. She used puppets, dolls, and pictures to elicit children’s social attitudes. In 1939, Horowitz conducted what is recognized as the first modern empirical study of racial identity in Black children. Her results were published in the journal article, Racial aspects of self-identification in nursery school children where she reported that several Black preschool children misidentified themselves as White. Based on her findings, Horowitz concluded that these children were socialized to identify with Whiteness rather than Blackness.


Horowitz’s research attracted the interest of many psychologists, among them the married team of Mamie Phipps Clark and Kenneth Clark. The Clarks replicated and expanded Horowitz’s earlier work on racial identification, using a projective technique that had been pioneered by Horowitz and her husband. The projective procedure was a choice test. Participants were shown a page with two pictures and asked “Which one is you?”. Horowitz and her husband also developed portrait series that consisted of 10 pictures. Participants were shown one portrait at a time and then asked “Is this you?”. The Clarks’ work published in the journal article, Racial identification and preference among negro children was instrumental in sparking much of the interest in the study of Black racial identity in psychology.


Ruth Edith Horowitz (Hartley) passed away in 1997, at the age of 87. Horowitz was best-known for her research in clinical and child psychology. However, she was also involved in research on feminist issues. From 1956 to 1961, Horowitz worked on a study of women’s roles, and with the help of a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, she published her research in Children’s Perceptions and Expressions of Sex Preference (1962)


by Matthew Pelowitz (2012)

To cite this article, see Credits

Selected Works:
By Ruth Horowitz

Horowitz, R., & Murphy, L. B. (1938).Projective methods in the psychological study of children. Journal of Experimental Education, 7, 133-140.


Horowitz, R. E. (1939). Racial aspects of self-identification in nursery school children. Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied, 7, 91-99.


Hartley, R. E. (1946). Sociality in preadolescent boys. Teachers College Contributions to Education, 918, 117-117.


Hartley, E. L., & Hartley, R. E. (1952). Fundamentals of social psychology. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.


Hartley, R. E. (1952). Growing through play: Experiences of Teddy and Bud. New York: Columbia University Press.


Hartley, R. E., Frank, L. K., & Goldenson, R. M. (1952). Understanding children's play. New York: Columbia University Press.


Hartley, R. E., Hardesty, F. P., & Gorfein, D. S. (1962). Children's perceptions and expressions of sex preference. Child Development, 33(1), 221-227.


Hartley, R. E., Lynn, D. B., Sutton-Smith, B., & Lansky, L. M. (1964). Sex role identification: A symposium. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 10(1), 3-50.

About Ruth Horowitz

Stevens, G., & Sheldon, G. (1982).The women of psychology. Cambridge, MA: Schenkman Publishing Co.


Bridges, E. (2010). Racial identity development and psychological coping strategies of African American males at a predominantly white university. Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association, 13(1), 14-26.


Pickren, W., Dewsbury, A. D., & Wertheimer, M. (2012) Portraits of pioneers in developmental psychology (pp. 141-144). New York: Psychology Press.