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Charles Egerton Osgood(November 20, 1916 – September 15, 1991) was a distinguished psychologist who developed a technique for the measurement of the connotative meaning of concepts known as the semantic differential.


Osgood was born in 1916, in Somerville, Massachusetts. He died in 1991.


He received his Ph.D. in Psychology from Yale University in 1945. [1]

He was a professor of psychology of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana from 1949 to 1984, and a research professor of the Institute of Communications Research (ICR), in the UI College of Communications. He as the Director of the ICR from 1957 to 1984. He served as president of the American Psychological Association from 1962 to 1963. [1]

Osgood served on the Social Science Advisory Board of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency from 1964 to 1971, at the height of the Cold War. [2]

Among his many awards were the APA's Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award (1960), and the APA's Kurt Lewin Award (1971).


At the height of Cold War tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, Osgood formulated a new approach to international relations called "Graduated Reciprocation in Tension-reduction", or GRIT. This was first articulated in a paper titled, "Reciprocal Initiative",and developed at greater length in his seminal book, An Alternative To War Or Surrender, both published in 1962. Osgood hoped to be able to reverse the nuclear arms race through a series of carefully calibrated, reciprocal steps which would gradually foster greater trust between the two superpowers. He was appointed to the Social Science Advisory Board of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, serving from 1964 to 1971.[3]

Preceded by:
Paul E. Meehl
Charles E. Osgood elected APA President
Succeeded by:
Quinn McNemar

See also



  • Charles E. Osgood, Method and Theory in Experimental Psychology, Oxford, 1956.
  • Charles E. Osgood & Murray S. Miron (eds), Approaches to the Study of Aphasia, University of Illinois Press, 1963.
  • Charles E. Osgood, George Suci, & Percy Tannenbaum, The Measurement of Meaning. University of Illinois Press, 1967. ISBN 0-252-74539-6.
  • Charles E. Osgood, William S. May, & Murray S. Miron, Cross Cultural Universals of Affective Meaning. University of Illinois Press, 1975. ISBN 0-252-00426-4.
  • Charles E. Osgood, Focus on Meaning: Explorations in Semantic Space. Mouton Publishers, 1979.
  • Charles E. Osgood, Psycholinguistics, Cross-Cultural Universals, and Prospects for Mankind. Praeger Publishers, 1988. ISBN 0-030-59433-2.
  • Charles E. Osgood & Oliver Tzeng (eds), Language, Meaning, and Culture: The Selected Papers of C. E. Osgood. Praeger Publishers, 1990. ISBN 0-275-92521-8.

Book Chapters


Osgood, C.E. (1966) Dimensionality of the semantic space for communication via facial expression, Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 7: 1-30.


External links

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