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Theodore Roy Sarbin (May 8, 1911 - August 31, 2005), known as "Ted Sarbin", was an American psychologist and professor of psychology and criminology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He was known as "Mr. Role Theory" because of his contributions to the social psychology of role-taking. Sarbin became known for his 1988 report critical of U.S. military policies regarding homosexuals. “Gays in Uniform,” found no proof for the assumption that homosexuals posed greater security risks than heterosexuals nor the idea that homosexual soldiers would disrupt military life.
Sarbin was born on May 8, 1911, in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended Ohio State University as an undergraduate and later obtained a master's degree from Case Western Reserve University. He received a Ph.D. in psychology from The Ohio State University in 1941. Sarbin began his professional career as a research-oriented clinical psychologist, practicing first in Illinois and later in Los Angeles. His academic career was established at the University of California, Berkeley, where he served on the faculty from 1949 to 1969 and at the University of California, Santa Cruz where he was a Professor of Psychology and of Criminology from 1969 to 1975. In addition, he served for varying periods on the faculty at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. In 1987, he became a research psychologist for the Defense Personnel Security Research and Education Center (PERSEREC), a program of the U.S. Navy, where he continued to work until just before his death. In the course of his academic career, Sarbin received scores of honors, including both Fulbright and Guggenheim fellowships. He was a research scholar at Nuffield College of Oxford University in 1963. He was a Fellow on the faculty at the Center for Advanced Studies of Wesleyan University for the academic year 1968-1969 and returned there for another period in 1975. He received the Morton Prince Award from the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis and the Henry Murray Award from the American Psychological Association. He was recognized with a lifetime achievement award from the Western Psychological Association in 2001. Just prior to his death, the American Psychological Association created a new award named after him, to be presented annually by one of its divisions, the Society for Theoretical Philosophical Psychology, and Sarbin was able to hand it to the first recipient.
He died on August 31, 2005, at his home in Carmel, Calif. He was 94. The cause was pancreatic cancer, said Frank Barrett, a colleague and longtime friend.
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