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John Gittinger
Introduction of John Gittinger (at a dinner in his honor).
"The CIA man" - 1986 Tulsa Tribute article about John Gittinger

Psychologist Dr. John Gittinger (Nov 1, 1917 - Oct 19, 2003) conceived the fundamental idea behind the Personality Assessment System, or PAS, many years ago when he observed that our personalities are shaped, to a large extent, by the way we use the several components of our intellect. He realized that each person learns to cope with life by using (or not using) the intellectual strengths and overcoming (or not overcoming) the intellectual weaknesses that she or he may have learned or acquired by genetic endowement. He saw that, over the period of our maturation into adulthood, this process produces what we call each person's "personality." The result, in other words, for each of us, is a coherent pattern for how to "do" life.

Gittinger's insight evolved into a system by which cognitive behavior, emotional reaction, perceptual style and social interaction can be mapped into twelve scalable dimensions, each representing a component of intellectual function. These dimensions, and the technology for mapping into and out of them, constitute the Personality Assessment System. The system has, as its major strengths, the fact that such mappings permit one to quantify social intelligence, identify the roots of psychological disfunctions, design effective therapies for such disfunctions, tailor educational strategies to fit individual needs, provide guidance to those with personnel problems and make accurate predictions about individual behavior. The PAS is being applied for all these, and other, purposes in a number of settings and institutions in the U.S. and abroad.

The PAS has its roots in Gittinger's early career as a psychologist at Central State Hospital in Norman, OK (1948-1949). It was there that he began to observe behavioral differences among the patients, which could be linked to differential (ipsitive) scores on the sub-tests of standardized psychological test instruments. 1950-1978, Dr. Gittinger’s professional career and the PAS further developed as he rose to the position of Chief Psychologist of World-Wide Operations for the Central Intelligence Agency. During that time he perfected the PAS through the analysis of tens of thousands of cases being evaluated for national security purposes He also served as an advisor to several U.S. presidents about matters of national security. His use of the PAS to analyze and make accurate predictions about the behavior of key world leaders was of critical importance to the decisions made by those presidents.

Even John Marks, in his anti-CIA book In Search of the Manchurian Candidate, recognized and reported that the most positive development during the 1950's and 1960's in the CIA was the Personality Assessment System. Marks goes on (though with characteristic sarcasm) to describe the genius of Dr. Gittinger whose creative thought and psychological acumen resulted in the development of the PAS.

After Dr. Gittinger’s retirement from government service in 1978, many of the psychologists with whom he had worked developed university affiliations. Students at such prestigious institutions as Cornell University, The Ohio State University, The University of Missouri, and American International College are among those who have been provided with an opportunity to learn to analyze and interpret PAS profiles. The Gittinger Assessment Center, established at Hocking College in 1984, served as a site for training, resources, information, and data collection. Today, many original documents from the development and research on the PAS are housed at the Center for the History of Psychology on the campus of the University of Akron.