Welcome to my home page. This is my personal website, as distinguished from my official university website, which is available at this address: http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/LabsProfile/Elms/PWT/.

Here at starcraving. com, you’ll find a wide range of content. You’ll  be able to read or download portions of two of my previously published books, plus assorted articles and papers that are not readily available elsewhere. The books are long out of print, and the original publishers have turned the copyrights over to me. Some chapters in these books and papers are of historical interest at best. But I think other chapters contain ideas and observations that are still worth reading; otherwise I wouldn’t put them here. For instance, I’ve posted the chapter dealing with obedience to authority, Acts of Submission, from my 1972 book Social Psychology and Social Relevance. This material, based on my work with Stanley Milgram, is unfortunately quite relevant to current news about torture and prisoner abuse in Iraq and  Guantanamo and elsewhere, and to news about other kinds of obedience to destructive authority in various parts of the world.  Also included are parts of a family cookbook that I put together several years ago, with recipes that are still worth cooking, and an assortment of my poems (mostly sonnets).

Elsewhere on this site I’ll include summaries or brief excerpts from my more recently published work — material that the publishers won’t let me post in full yet. Here I’m especially interested in promoting my magnum opus Uncovering Lives, which includes a lot of material related to other parts of this website. (I have received permission to post Chapter One.)  Oxford University Press is currently keeping the paperback edition of Uncovering Lives in print as a print-on-demand book; many years will pass before they let me put the whole book online. So buy it while you can (either new from OUP or as a considerably cheaper used copy)–or at least ask your local librarians to put it on their shelves.

Psychobiography has its own section here because that’s what I do professionally: I study the lives of famous and/or unusually creative individuals, from a psychological perspective. Sometimes I also teach psychobiography (though I’m now retired from teaching regularly scheduled courses), and at times I help other people practice it. If you’d like to see more about psychobiography, try an excellent web page maintained by one of my former graduate students, Dr. William Todd Schultz: http://www.psychobiography.com. Also try the  Handbook of Psychobiography that he edited (Oxford University Press, 2005); it includes several chapters by me as well as work by some of my other former students, by good friends in the field, and by other distinguished psychobiographical scholars.

The Personality Psychology section is there because I use personality theories a lot in my psychobiographical research, and I’ve taught them to undergraduate and graduate students for many years. I’ve also done a good deal of research on how the major personality theories (by Freud, Jung, Erikson, Allport, Maslow, Murray, etc.) evolved out of the lives and personalities of the theorists themselves. I rarely try to develop personality theories of my own, but I do have plenty of opinions about the ones developed by other people.

The Social Psychology category is here because I did laboratory research in experimental social psychology during my graduate education and for several years thereafter, and because I still keep track of certain aspects of social psychology — especially research on obedience to authority, which was started by my graduate school mentor Stanley Milgram, and research on groupthink, which was first discussed systematically by my other graduate school mentor, Irving L. Janis. The book I wrote on social psychology, which I wanted to title Saving the World in Small Print but which my publishers insisted I title Social Psychology and Social Relevance, will eventually be uploaded here in full. Meanwhile, I have added to this website several of my papers on obedience to authority, and soon I will add such items as my controversial (at least when it was first published) paper on “The Crisis of Confidence in Social Psychology.”

The Science Fiction Research section of this website is likely to be one of its most active categories. I don’t usually write science fiction (though I’ve tried — see the My Fiction section for an example), but I know quite a bit about it. I’ve been reading it for sixty years, I’ve done biographical research on a number of science fiction writers, and some of my best friends are science fiction writers. The SF writer who most fascinates me is Cordwainer Smith (real name: Paul M. A. Linebarger). I’m close to completing a book-length biography of him; until then, one subsection of this website category serves as  an Unofficial Cordwainer Smith Biography Home Page. (His daughter, Rosana Hart, maintains an excellent Official Cordwainer Smith Home Page, at http://www.cordwainer-smith.com.) Other science fiction and fantasy writers interest me too — especially James Tiptree, Jr. (real name: Alice Bradley Sheldon)  and Karen Joy Fowler — , so I’ll include information on them as well.

Then comes the Personal Informationsection. Right now it consists mostly of the official Curriculum Vitae that all academics are expected to keep complete and up-to-date. But I’ll try to get more personal here as this website continues to develop . . . as if the rest of the material on the site didn’t already tell you quite enough. The rest of the material includes an interview of me by one of my last grad students, some of my poems (already published or previously unpublished), examples of my fiction (all so far unpublished, alas), and a few of my favorite recipes.

My  official university website, the one  located at http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/Labs/Elms/PWT/,  lists all my professional publications by year, starting with the most recent ones first. (Or it will list all of them, as soon as I catch up on several of the earliest and several of the most recent publications.) Some of the publication titles have a little “Request” button beside them; if you click on that button for any publication you’d like to read, my research lab will email you a pdf reprint of that publication.

You can leave comments at the end of most of the entries here, but if you want to reach me directly, email me at acelms@ucdavis.edu. If I don’t answer you within a few days, try again — often I get distracted by other matters and my web correspondence gets left far behind. Sorry about that! (You might also try my alternate email address, alanelms@aol.com, which I maintain mainly for use when I’m traveling. Usually I check it less frequently than my ucdavis address.)

— Alan Elms, February 8, 2013

5 comments on “Welcome!Add yours →

  1. Hi Thanks for great blog. Science fiction is my favorite too. Hav e never heard of Cordwainer Smith, will definitely check out the page of his daughter. Thanks

  2. Very good blog you have here but I was curious
    about if you knew of any user discussion forums that cover the same topics discussed in this
    article? I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get comments
    from other experienced individuals that share the same interest.
    If you have any recommendations, please let me know.
    Bless you!

  3. Thanks for your comments. No, IDK any user discussion forums on these topics — mainly professional listservs by people who actually publish research involving psychobiography.

  4. I too was a student of Irving Janis, at undergraduate level, 1974-1975. I found your enticing blog, more of which I will explore later, as I researched Dr. Janis’ experiment for which he earned the nick-name, Black Prince. Hope to read more of your works. Thank you .

  5. Good to hear from you, Malcolm. Yes, I’ve heard of Irving being referred to as “the Black Prince,” though his demeanor toward me did not justify the name in any way I can think of. During my early grad student years I did find him a little scary, but over the years we became good friends and he was very supportive of me — my second book, “Personality in Politics,” was commissioned and published under his sponsorship. Chapters 5, 6, and 8 of my first book, “Social Psychology and Social Relevance,” also bear heavy imprints of Irving’s research interests. as does my doctoral dissertation. My website doesn’t really show clearly the influence he had on me.

    Best regards,

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