Faculty & School/Dept.
Faculty of Health - Department of Psychology
PhD - 2006
University Of Toronto
BA - 2001
Michael Pettit is an associate professor of Psychology and Science & Technology Studies at York University. His historical research focuses on psychology as a public science and the discipline’s relationship with others fields such as medicine, sexology, and the other human sciences.
He studies the history of psychology’s research methods and ethics, the relationship between scientists and subject populations, and the circulation of psychology in the public sphere. He focuses on the United States, but is very much interested in transnational and global history.
He is currently exploring how to integrate network graphs and GIS with archival research and interpretive approaches taken from STS.
The Science of Deception: Psychology and Commerce in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013).
“Becoming Glandular: Endocrinology, Mass Culture, and Experimental Lives in the Interwar Age,” American Historical Review 118(4) (2013): 1052-1076.
with Matthew J. Sigal, “Information Overload, Professionalization, and the Origins of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association,” Review of General Psychology 16(4) (2012): 357-363.
“The Queer Life of a Lab Rat,” History of Psychology 15(3) (2012): 217-227.
“The Con Man as Model Organism: The Methodological Roots of Erving Goffman’s Dramaturgical Theory,” History of the Human Sciences 24(2) (2011): 138-154.
“The SPSSI Task Force on Sexual Orientation, the Nature of Sex, and the Contours of Activist Science,”Journal of Social Issues 67(1) (2011): 90-103.
“The Problem of Raccoon Intelligence in Behaviourist America,” British Journal for the History of Science 43 (3) (2010): 391-421.
“The New Woman as ‘Tied-up Dog’: Amy E. Tanner’s Situated Knowledges,” History of Psychology 11(3) (2008): 145-163.
“‘The Joy in Believing’: The Cardiff Giant, Commercial Deceptions, and Styles of Observation in Gilded Age America,” Isis 97(4): 659-677.
Article Prize - Forum for the History of Science in America - 2011
Early Career Achievement Award - APA Div 26 - 2009
Early Career Award - FHHS - 2006
Currently available to supervise graduate students: Yes
Currently taking on work-study students, Graduate Assistants or Volunteers: Yes
Available to supervise undergraduate thesis projects: Yes
Sex Lives of Animals in the Age of Kinsey
This project examines the interplay among clinical professionals, sex reformers, sexologists, and laboratory experimenters that looked to nonhuman animals to speak the true nature of sexual behavior. The aim is to situate the science of behavioral endocrinology within the history of sexuality in the twentieth century. What can the field’s narratives about the sex lives of animals tell us about science and sexuality during the Cold War and the different ways that the people look to the behavior of animals to explain human nature? What do scientists do with standardized materials that do not behave in an expected, standardized fashion? What was the field’s relationship to Alfred Kinsey’s statistical sex surveys and the development of sex reassignment surgery? How did facts produced in the animal psychologist’s laboratory circulation in the wider culture and how did historical circumstances shape laboratory practice?
Role: Principal Investigator
Year Funded: 2009
Funded by: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council