1.  Who was Arthur W. Combs?

Arthur W. Combs (1912-1999) was a psychologist/educator who began his academic career as a teacher of biological sciences and a school psychologist in the public schools of Alliance, OH (1935-1941).  He earned a Master’s degree in School Counseling at Ohio State University (1941) and entered the doctoral program in Clinical Psychology at that institution, where Carl Rogers served as a teacher and mentor.  He completed his Ph.D. in 1945.

His professional career was based at three institutions: Syracuse University, where he helped organize a psychoeducational clinic open to the community, developed a doctoral program in Clinical Psychology and served as Director of Clinical Training and head of Personal Counseling Services (1943-1954); the University of Florida, where he held a dual appointment in the Department of Personnel Services and the Educational Foundations Department and also taught for a time in the Department of Psychology (1954-1976); and at the University of Northern Colorado as a Distinguished Professor (during the 1980s).

In 1949, he was elected President of the New York State Psychological Association and that same year he co-authored (with Donald L. Snygg) Individual Behavior: A New Frame of Reference for Psychology.  This book presented a comprehensive and systematic framework for making better sense of human experience, behavior, and the relationship between the two.  Known as “Perceptual Psychology” and later “Field Psychology,” its primary assertion was that people behave in accordance with personal meanings or perceptions, especially how they perceive themselves, the situations they are in and the purposes they are trying to achieve.  More recent formulations were published as Perceptual Psychology: A Humanistic Approach to the Study of Persons (with Anne C. Richards & Fred Richards, 1976),  and Being and Becoming: A Field Approach to Psychology (1999). His autobiography (2006), In Search of Fulfillment: The Quest of Psychologist/Educator Arthur W. Combs, has been described by David J. Cain, Ph.D. (Alliant International University) as “not just an autobiography of an exceptional man whose life story is well worth knowing, but also a personal history of the pioneering development, significance and evolution of humanistic psychology, education and psychotherapy.”

Art spent most of his career establishing, refining, researching, and implementing this theoretical position and sharing insights and implications derived from it in clinical, counseling, educational, and other settings.  His publications explored implications of Perceptual Field Theory for better understanding goals and purposes of education and teacher preparation (Perceiving, Behaving, Becoming, 1962; The Professional Education of Teachers, 1965; Myths of Education, 1979) and for better discriminating between good and poor professional “helpers” such as  teachers, therapists, ministers, public officials, etc. (Florida Studies in the Helping Professions, 1969; The Schools We Need:  New Assumptions for Educational Reform, 1991; Helping Relationships: Basic Concepts for the Helping Professions [with Donald Avila & Williams W. Purkey in 1971; with David Gonzalez in 1994]; On becoming a school leader: A person-centered challenge [with Ann B. Miser & Kathryn Whitaker, 1999]).  One of Art’s often-quoted articles, “Intelligence from a Perceptual Point of View,” was published in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology (1952).

By the end of the 1960s, Art’s consulting and speaking engagements had taken him to every state of the United States and into six other countries.  He had published nearly 100 articles and several books and monographs on psychology, education, and therapeutic practice which had gone into revisions and were translated into other languages.

Among other awards and honors he received were the following: an Outstanding Research Award from the American Personnel and Guidance Association, now the American Counseling Association (1963); election as President of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD – 1966); the John Dewey Society Award for distinguished service to contemporary education for his “signal contributions to teaching, educational theory, and educational research” (1967).  In 1998 he received the Charlotte and Karl Bühler Award from Division 32 of the American Psychological Association for his “ground-breaking contributions to psychological theory, educational reform and research in the helping professions.”



Before his death, Arthur W. Combs set aside monies to encourage the continuation of graduate student research from a perceptual (field) psychology perspective and to provide for publication of manuscripts related to his professional life and work.  He designated one of his former doctoral students, Anne C. Richards (Ed.D., University of Florida, 1972) as Trustee.  Dr. Richards was formerly on the faculty of the University of Northern Colorado (1971-1975) and retired in May of 2001 from the University of West Georgia after 26 years of service. A Professor Emerita in the Department of Psychology at UWG, she also served as editor of Combs’ autobiography, In Search of Fulfillment, which was released in December, 2006.


3.  What types of proposals fall within the range of those deemed worthy of support by THE FIELD PSYCH TRUST?

Proposals are encouraged exploring the history, contributions, and further development of Perceptual (Field) Psychology in relation to the research and writings of Arthur W. Combs.  Applications of Dr. Combs’ theoretical position to the improvement of educational, community, conflict-resolution, therapeutic efforts, etc., are also encouraged.


4.  What is the potential amount of an award from THE FIELD PSYCH TRUST?

Awards range from $500.00 to $1500.00, depending on the nature of the project.


5.  How will the award be paid?

30% upon acceptance/approval of project proposal.

30% following review and approval of progress report (to be submitted to THE FIELD PSYCH TRUST).

40% following review and approval of hard copy of final report when project is completed.  (Final report can take the form of a completed MA Thesis, Ed.S. Research Project Report, doctoral dissertation, or a published manuscript.)


6.  How are proposals evaluated?

Proposals and applications will be evaluated by THE FIELD PSYCH TRUST through a competitive review process using the criteria specified in these guidelines.  The following is a brief description of the application process involved:

*All applications will be screened by the Trustee of THE FIELD PSYCH TRUST for overall soundness and general consistency with the criteria and conditions for the granting of research funding from the Trust.

*Applications that pass this initial screening will be forwarded to a Review Panel composed of former students of  Dr. Arthur W. Combs.  The Review Panel members will score applications, consider the merits of each application, and, if desired, supplement this information with formal interviews conducted by telephone.

*Applicants will be ranked according to “most promising” and “less promising” applications.  This ranking will be provided to the Trustee of THE FIELD PSYCH TRUST or her designee for review and selection for award.

*References and other information related to legal and employment histories will be checked during the review process.

*Proposals will be reviewed according to the following criteria:

25 points- Relevance of the proposed project to the mission of THE FIELD PSYCH TRUST, i.e., to what degree does the proposed project seem to foster or support the mission of the Trust?

25 points- Substance, conceptual quality, and clarity of the proposal, i.e., to what extent does the proposed project demonstrate an understanding of Perceptual Psychology/Field Psych theory and does it provide confidence that high quality outcomes will be achieved and/or delivered?

25 points- Professional judgment of reviewers as to the significance of the project in addressing matters of consequence to the human condition.

25 points- Degree of confidence that the prospective Grant Recipient has the ability to produce the proposed project.  Indicators include, but are not limited to: substantial and relevant work experience and accomplishments; substantial and relevant academic credentials and accomplishments.



7.  Where can I get more information about research methods which have been developed from Perceptual (Field) Theory?

In addition to the books cited on this website, the following website may be helpful:
This is the website of the National Network for the Study of Educator Dispositions, directed by Mark Wasicsko, Ph.D., Bank of Kentucky Endowed Professor at the University of Northern Kentucky.

Additional materials are currently being developed, so please check with THE FIELD PSYCH TRUST prior to submitting your application.


8.  How many pages long should application proposals be?

A total of five-seven pages, including separate pages for budget, time line and sponsor’s letter of support, will be acceptable.