Started with studies – wanted to do law, but dad said no, but she must go to university. Met husband, all that was left was German or Psychology. So she studied psychology. Heard of NIPR, and after she was married, applied for position and was told by Biesheuvel’s PA that they already had enough women. SGWTA – Special grade women’s technical assistant (make tea, empty baskets, do filing). Moved up to PA. Became teacher in Northern Natal, returned.

In 1958, applied for position at NIPR and got an interview. Interview by Henry Fabian (stress interview) – how far can we push this woman until she capitulates? Why do you want to work? Challenged him and said it was her choice if she wanted to work, and if she had the characteristics they were looking for, they should hire her otherwise tell her. Lucien Cortes hired her – doing assessments on developing job evaluation system, do predetermined motion time standards – filiming action movements by people, going frame-by-frame. Gained knowledge of other things going on in the NIPR.

[06:05] Did work on motion time standards as masters under Simon Biesheuvel. He was an unbelievable tutor. He would ask you about why you wanted to study something and how you were going to do it. He had such blue eyes, were very critical – forced you to clarify your thoughts while sitting on the other side of the desk. He basically taught me how to do research.

Lucien Cortes – grow in Self-esteem

[07:30] Unique about NIPR – WWII. Col. Pierre van Ryneveld requested a department for the assessment of pilots – look at work being done in France. Some work had been done at UP, but only some was done. They wanted to know about maturity, taking risks, handling stress. Biesheuvel came up with assessment centre approach. Could ID individuals in terms of development needs.

[09:25] 1946 – Biesheuvel first Director. CSIR funded by state, but NIPR was funded for administrative staff only. Research and work had to generate funds by doing research or work for organisations.

[11:00] Hudson – training less literate people in the mines – posters. A man climbing ladder with one full leg and one bent. Miners saw this as the man being disabled.

Psychology – develop tests to identify potential (not easy – people could not read and write). Biesheuvel’s initial work was aimed at the illiterate….

Biesheuvel basically saw to it that the NIPR was kept abreast of what was developing in Europe and USA. Europe – philosophical approach. US more neurological, but had a Gestalt approach- important to view the person in context. England – organisations and functioning in factories. Biesheuvel knew who were interested in what areas. JVR: combination of philosophy and psychology, moved into organisations. Biesheuvel knew what was happening and sent an article or a word on things you could follow up.

[15:50] Job evaluation: easier in lower levels. As you move up hierarchy, becomes more difficult to determine what a person does. How do you decide? “Gut feel” – it’s not gut feel.

[17:00] Description of filming line workers for her research.

[17:50] Became involved with organisation development and later leadership development, focusing specifically on female leadership. How do you negotiate for acceptance? And from a different culture. As a woman, how do you do that being comfortable with yourself. Trained women to be comfortable in using their competence and skills in a culture that is alien to them.

Work done on doctorate in early 80’s still relevant. Prof Schepers was external examiner. Initial study on female decision-making. Eventually decided on career commitment in women: what makes a woman stick to her chosen career? Psychometrics and life-stages.

[26:55] The fact that we are similar and have such unique dissimilarities”

Special people that stood out: Biesheuvel taught us to do research. Dawie Gouws taught us to market – go to clients, ask we can help you. Forced to make research practical. Each department vied for clients. Dawie Vorster good at creating structures, getting people to toe the line – move into second

Act of Parliament decided that the NIPR should move from the CSIR to the HSRC. HSRC totally bureaucratic structure. NIPR based on CSIR – work with your client to earn money. Research would then be done by universities, and not NIPR. People who wanted to do research moved out. Next director, Gordon Nelson – appointed from within. Interested in the brain and epilepsy – allowed freedom. Eventually Ricky Mauer arrived. Unclear as to when act of parliament was with Dawie Vorster or Gordon Nelson.

Retired twice.

Was asked to present paper overseas, but had not budgeted to go. Asked manager to attend conference and find out how do we distribute MBTI at HSRC? Said you had to attend distributor meeting in France. HSRC said they had no budget, so JVR went on her own steam. Eventually got hold of CPP at hotel, went to cocktail party to discuss distribution of tests. First question was if HSRC got money from the regime – said yes, and they said by California’s law, they cannot sell to them. JVR asked if they would give it to her in her private capacity. They said submit a business plan – wasn’t sure how to do it. Came back – went to director of HSRC and CSIR, told them what happened. Decided to start JvR. Submitted business plan, was accepted. Started with Jopie de Beer… in a very little room and little knowledge of computers.

[42:56] Privilege of being with NIPR – allowed one to develop self. Allowed her to be a difficult woman. Get experience of dealing with people she managed. Every research thinks that “I have the answer” Uniqueness of how people developed projects – 6M game.

Young psychologist: Don’t become a psychologist because you think that at university you’ll learn everything there is to know. Professionality is based on observation, building competence.

[45:20] Where is psychology heading? Psychology should be less dissected in separate units. Psychology should look at the world around them and see what the world needs. Should become more involved in social needs.

[46:30] If another 100 years, I would like to be a psychological researcher. And try to enhance the quality of life of people.


Start: History in Europe – Wundt & Titchener; moving to James and the consciousness of human behaviour.

[23:22 – 24.20] Biesheuvel’s view of Assessment based on James: Biological; Psychological; and Environment.

NIPR established based on European views of assessment and psychology. The focus is on the individual, but take the environment into consideration.

EEG department did studies on Epilepsy, Isolation/Deprivation and how this negatively affects reaction speed. Used LSD and looked at impact on brainwaves, as well as beer and sorghum beer. Mundy-Castle’s research at Sterkfontein caves.

NIPR: Did practical research by testing theoretical inputs in a fun way.

Personality: Research in mines, young children, illiterate people; did assessment for potential [Schepers, Grant, Biesheuvel].

[8:21-8:44] Biesheuvel’s focus – don’t work from the assumption that Western assessment techniques are appropriate in multicultural contexts in SA.

Environmental studies: Macro surveys involving filed work and corporate teams. The provide the info to psychological testing.

Research and Applied Depts had to earn money by providing services to industry and govt.

Job evaluation system – practical analysis, Q-method, Parannus (?)

– 6M game [money, materials, management, manpower, market, machines]
– 7th factor is motivation
– Teach people to deal with the realities of the work situation

Ben Mkoatle mentioned

[16:00] Bring Western thinking to practicalities

Started research with computers – developed long before modern day challenges. Malcolm Coulter did research on themes around artificial intelligence

Communication in mines: Made posters to enhance safety awareness: Interpreted differently than intended… e.g., Man climbing ladder.

Tests: Spatial perception & form series test.

Reuning: Bushmen research.

NIPR: Determine client’s needs and develop systems to address them.

Dawie Gouws: You have to go up the street and get work.

Dawie Vorster: Provided structure and order. Created a place where you were expected to keep abreast of theoretical developments and look for possibilities to apply them; Expected of you to publish.

[33:00] What worries her about psychologists these days? Don’t innovate enough.

[33:56] Last statement: As human beings, we are all unique.


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