Maria Ovsiankina

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Maria Rickers-Ovsiankina (born May 3, 1898 in Tschita ; † September 28, 1993 in Berkeley ) was a Russian psychologist who worked for Kurt Lewin at the Humboldt University in Berlin . The Ovsiankina effect is named after her.

life and work

Maria Ovsiankina was the daughter of a Russian father and a German mother. In her childhood she moved with her parents to the port city of Vladivostok . After the Russian Revolution , she moved to Berlin with her siblings . There she began her studies at the University of Berlin , first in literature and linguistics, from 1924 at the psychological institute with the Gestalt psychologist Kurt Lewin. She received her doctorate in 1928 at the University of Giessen . Her dissertation on the subject of “Resumption of Interrupted Actions” was part of the experimental research program “Studies on Action and Affect Psychology”, with the help of which Kurt Lewin developed his field theory of person and behavior. The work of Ovsiankina demonstrated the effect named after her, that the interruption in the implementation of a personally important undertaking leaves a system of tension that urges the act to be resumed at the next opportunity. Ovsiankina's work thus represented a logical addition and differentiation of the questions of the famous work Bluma Zeigarnik on the preferred memory of interrupted actions ( Zeigarnik effect ).

Since she found temporary employment in Germany as a lecturer at the University of Berlin, as a prison psychologist, career counselor and researcher at a school for children with developmental disabilities, but could not get a permanent job, she went to the USA in 1931. She first worked there as a researcher at a state psychiatric hospital, Worcester State Hospital in Massachusetts, where she worked on David Shakow's famous schizophrenia project. During this time she also married and was subsequently named Rickers-Ovsiankina. In 1935 Rickers-Ovsiankina moved to Wheaton College , where she taught psychology for over 14 years and dealt with the Rorschach test method in research and diagnostic practice .

From 1949 she was employed at the University of Connecticut , where she worked as a professor and director of clinical training until her retirement in 1965. In Connecticut, she was able to continue her examination of the Rorschach procedure and deepen the shape-theoretical foundation of the Rorschach diagnostics. With the anthology "Rorschach Psychology", edited by her, she presented a standard work for this procedure in 1960, which unmistakably bears the gestalt theoretical signature.

selected Writings

  • 1928 (under the name Ovsiankina, Maria A.): The resumption of interrupted actions . Psychological research 11 (3/4), 302 - 379. Digitized version (PDF; 5.79 MB) [English translation 1976, see below]
  • 1936: The Reaction of Schizophrenics to Interrupted Tasks . Psychological Bulletin 33 (??), 796-797
  • 1937: Studies on the Personality Structure of Schizophrenic Individuals . Journal of general psychology, 16 (1), 153-178
  • 1943: Some theoretical considerations regarding the Rorschach method. Rorschach research exchange and journal of projective techniques , 7, 41-53
  • 1956 (with B. Kaplan & A. Joseph): An attempt to sort Rorschach records from four cultures . Journal of Projective Techniques, 20 (2), 172-180.
  • 1960: Rorschach Psychology . Oxford, England: Wiley. 1977: 2nd edition. Huntington, NY: RE Warrior Publications Co.
  • 1976: The Resumption of Interrupted Activities (English translation of the dissertation 1928). In: De Rivera Joseph (Ed): Field-Theory as Human Science: Contributions of Lewin's Berlin Group. Gardner Press, 49-110


  • Farina, A. (1996): Maria Rickers-Ovsiankina (1898-1993): Obituary . American Psychologist, 51 (6), 650
  • George, M. (2012): Profile of Maria Rickers-Ovsiankina . Psychology's Feminist Voices Multimedia Internet Archive. Retrieved from
  • Handler, L. (1995): Rorschach Classics in Contemporary Perspective: Maria Rickers-Ovsiankina: A Russian Expatriate in America: A Review of Rorschach Psychology . Journal of Personality Assessment 65 (1), 169-185.
  • Lindorfer, B. (2012): Maria A. Rickers-Ovsiankina (1898 - 1993) . Phenomenal 4 (1), 82-85 (PDF; 1.1 MB).

Web links

Individual evidence

  2. Farina 1996: Maria Rickers-Ovsiankina (1898-1993): Obituary
  3. ^ Lindorfer 2012: Maria A. Rickers-Ovsiankina (1898-1993), Phenomenal 1/2012, pp. 82-85
  4. cf. Handler 1995: Rorschach Classics in Contemporary Perspective: Maria Rickers-Ovsiankina: A Russian Expatriate in America: A Review of Rorschach Psychology