Frederic Kuder

Frederic (Fritz) Kuder is best known as the author of the Kuder Preference Records, four distinctly different forms of an interest inventory that since their introduction in 1938 have been taken by millions of people worldwide.

As a transfer student at the University of Arizona, Kuder came late to a required orientation meeting for new students and was seated next to another latecomer, a son of James McKeen Cattell, with whom he became a close friend. Cattell—who is credited with introducing mental measurements in the United States and later with the founding of the Psychological Corporation—at the time led Science Press, a company that published American Men of Science. After Kuder graduated with his degree in English, this association led to a job as an editorial assistant at Science Press. Kuder was interested in vocational guidance and earned a master’s degree at the University of Michigan under George E. Meyers, who was an early president of the National Vocational Guidance Association, now National Career Development Association.

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After a period of employment in the personnel department of Procter & Gamble Company, where he worked on selecting sales personnel, Kuder continued his studies at Ohio State University under Herbert Toops, who was known for the development of a college entrance examination, Ohio State Psychological Examination. Several of Kuder’s publications from this era concerned test development and the use of the IBM tabulating machines to per-form statistical computations.

With his doctoral degree completed, Kuder went next to the University of Chicago, where he worked under the direction of L. L. Thurstone preparing placement and comprehensive exams for students. Here he began work on the Kuder Preference Record—Vocational, an interest inventory unique for using a triad of activities from which the inventory taker selected the most and least preferred activities. It was first scored for 8 and later 10 kinds of interests, which he developed with statistical techniques not unlike factor analysis, all using hand and electrically operated computation machines. He also developed a personality inventory for use in personnel selection, which enjoyed some popularity in the post-World War II years. These inventories became well known among test takers as the pin punch tests, owing to the scoring system that required that responses to items be punched into an answer pad with a pin, facilitating scoring by clerks or the inventory takers themselves.

After employment during the World War II years with the federal government, Kuder taught statistics at Duke University, where he developed his Occupational Preference record, which yielded scores reflecting the inventory taker’s similarity with individuals in a variety of occupations.

In 1977, Kuder published a paper advancing a new concept of vocational assessment, which instead of matching the inventory takers with groups of people in various occupations, matched them with individuals in a wide range of occupations, and more specifically in a variety of careers. Now available exclusively online, Kuder Career Search in its first decade of publication had been taken by more people than by those who took the previous Kuder inventories in their first 60 years.

Kuder was, with John G. Darley and E. G. Williamson, one of the founding members of the Division of Counseling Psychology of the American Psychological Association and was the group’s second president. Kuder founded and was editor for a long period of Educational and Psychological Measurement and cofounded Personnel Psychology. He received the award for distinguished service to measurement from Educational Testing Service and is listed in the book he once helped produce, American Men and Women of Science. He was one of the several prominent 20th century psychometricians who brought psychological testing to its present high state. But in the years before his death, he liked to say that he mainly tried to help young people find satisfying careers.


  • Zytowski, D. G., & Holmberg, K. S. (1988). Preferences: Frederic Kuder’s contributions to the counseling profession. Journal of Counseling and Development, 67, 150-156.

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