Photo of Jane Loevinger

Jane Loevinger





Training Location(s):

PhD, University of California, Berkeley (1944)

MA, University of Minnesota (1939)

Primary Affiliation(s):

Washington University (1961-1988)

Career Focus:

Developmental psychology; personality; psychometrics; psychoanalysis.


Jane Loevinger was born on February 6, 1918 in St. Paul, Minnesota. She was the third of five children. Her father, Gustavus Loevinger, was a German immigrant who worked as a lawyer and became a court judge in 1932. Her mother, Millie Strause, was a part-time school teacher and a pianist. Loevinger described her family as lively, formal, and competitive.

Academically, Loevinger often outperformed her fellow students and she described feeling like an outsider at school. She enrolled at the University of Minnesota for her undergraduate studies in psychology where a vocational counselor told her that psychology was "too mathematical" for her. Rather than being discouraged by this, Loevinger took this as a challenge and graduating magna cum laude in psychology when she was only 19. She earned her Master's Degree in psychometrics in 1939 from the University of Minnesota. She then enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley for her doctoral studies. Among her professors were Erik Erikson, Nevitt Sanford, Jerzy Neyman and Else Frenkel-Brunswick, all of whom encouraged and appreciated her statistical skills. She was a research assistant for Erik Erikson. In 1943, she completed her doctoral thesis on "Construction and Evaluation of Tests of Ability" in which she criticized psychometric theories and test reliabilities.

In 1944, Loevinger received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, shortly after she married Sam Weissman in July 1943. She later joined her husband at Los Alamos, New Mexico to work as a scientist and to take part in the Hitler's atomic bomb project in order to establish the weapon design component of the Manhattan Project and to develop the atomic bomb. She then gave birth to her first child Judith, and she did not return to work. She gave birth to their second child, Micheal Benjamin shortly before the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.

After the war, employment opportunities for women dropped dramatically and Loevinger worked occasionally at Washington University as a part-time psychology teacher and a research assistant after moving to St. Louis for her husband to take a job. She described those days as "dark days" when she felt the sexist prejudice from departments that expected her to leave her job, to stay home and to be a "good wife and mother."

After moving to St. Louis, Loevinger left her work at the Air Force and her other part-time jobs (such as some part-time teaching for the psychology department) in order to do a research on women's experience and she was one of the first psychologists to focus on the problems facing women and mothers in her research. She worked with a group of women-some mothers- in her research and she obtained funding from the National Institute of Mental Health. Loevinger and some of her students eventually published the Washington University Sentence Completion Test which later was expanded to assess ego development and moral understanding.

Loevinger and her achievements were recognized by the psychology department at Washington University and she was appointed research associate in psychology in 1961. In 1973, she obtained a position as a full-time professor and in 1988, she became professor emeritus, during which time she continued her research and professional activities.

Jane Loevinger was a distinguished researcher who is well known for her work on the psychology of ego development. This work resulted in many publications, including Measuring Ego Development, published in 1970. Loevinger died unexpectedly on January 4, 2008 at the age of 89.

by Zahra Shabzandehdar Nakhjiri (2010)

To cite this article, see Credits

Selected Works

By Jane Loevinger

Ernhart, C. B. & Loevinger, J. (1969). Authoritarian family ideology: A measure, its correlates, and its robustness. Austin, TX: Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology.

Hy, L. X. & Loevinger, J. (1996). Measuring ego development. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Loevinger, J. (1948). The technic of homogeneous tests compared with some aspects of scale analysis and factor analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 45, 507-529.

Loevinger, J. (1957). Objective tests as instruments of psychological theory. Psychological Reports, 3, 635-694.

Loevinger, J. (1970). Measuring ego development. San Fransciso: Jossey-Bass.

Loevinger, J. and Wessler, R. (1970). Measuring ego development: 1. Construction and use of a sentence completion test. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Loevinger, J., Wessler, R., and Redmore, C. (1970). Measuring ego development: 2. Scoring manual for women and girls. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Loevinger, J. (1976). Ego development. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Loevinger, J. (1987). Paradigms of personality. New York: Freeman.

Loevinger, J. (1998). Technical foundations for measuring ego development: The Washington University sentence completion test. Washington: Mahwah Publications.

Loevinger, J. (1998). History of the Sentence Completion Test (SCT) for ego development. In J. Loevinger, (Ed.) Technical foundations for measuring ego development: The Washington University Sentence Completion Test. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

About JaneLoevinger

Loevinger, J. (1998). Jane Loevinger. In O'Connell, A.N. and Russo, N.F. (Eds.) Models of achievement: Reflections of eminent women in psychology, vol. 2. (pp. 156- 166). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Loevinger, J. (2002). Confessions of an iconoclast: At home on the fringe. The Journal of Personality Assessment, 78(2), 195-208.

Randy, L. J. (2008). Jane Loevinger. American Psychologist, 63, 618.