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The WHY of Psychology

When I think of why I became a psychologist, I think of my first high school reunion (needless to say, there have been several). Each attendee was asked to speak briefly and I remarked that I've learned to ask questions. Suddenly, one of the women called out, "Mona, you've always asked questions!" And I think she hit the proverbial nail on the head.

I never outgrew the "why" that toddlers ask. I've always wanted to know why people react the way they do, each in a uniquely personal way. "Why did my father yell when he got angry?" "Why did the teacher let the other girl leave class but not me?" "Why am I angry?" "Why is my friend sad?"

Although I majored in English at Barnard College and expected to enter a career of teaching and writing, I found I was fascinated by my psychology courses. I did not change my major but nevertheless was admitted to Columbia University's graduate psychology program. Its emphasis on assessment of children's abilities was exactly my cup of tea. Here I could attain the skills necessary to ask and answer, Why? for the rest of my professional career!

And I haven't stopped asking.

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