James McBride Dabbs, Jr., Son of James and Edith Dabbs

James McBride Dabbs, Jr. (12/02/1937 – 8/13/2004) with his wife, Mary D. Godwin Dabbs
                                              photo courtesy of Meg Photography

Young James (Jim) went to school in Mayesville and graduated in 1955 in a class of six.  From there he went to Davidson College in North Carolina followed by Yale University where he received a PhD in psychology. After leaving Yale he worked at the Bureau of Social Science Research before joining the Army as an officer working for the Defense Intelligence Agency.  In 1962 while on his way to Fort Benning, Georgia, he stopped in Atlanta to hear his father speak at the annual meeting of the Southern Regional Council, the information and research branch of the civil rights movement.  There he met Mary Delia Godwin (1/27/1936) who was working for the Council.   They were married September 20, 1964.
      After short term stints returning to Yale and then to the University of Michigan School of Public Health,  Jim and Mary settled at Georgia State University in Atlanta in 1970 where he was Professor of Psychology.  In his research Jim would often notice odd things about behavior in the real world and then try to come up with a way to measure and explain them.  His best known work was in physiological social psychology, particularly behavioral endocrinology as it applies to human testosterone.  His study topics ranged from romantic relationships, occupational attainment, and interpersonal competition to pro-social behavior, where he was the first to discover that in some circumstances above average levels of testosterone are linked to being helpful, engaging and outgoing behavior.  Although he did concede the public’s fixation on the hormone was puzzling.  “The typical high-testosterone male is likely to be bald, lean, unhappily married or divorced, in jail, smokes, has tattoos and can’t keep a job – and everyone wants testosterone.”   His work on testosterone is summarized in Heroes, Rogues, and Lovers, a highly praised book co-authored with his wife, Mary.
      Like his father, his conversations were filled with poetry, philosophy and farm-related similes.  He was warm and congenial and had a great sense of humor.  His presentations were always well attended because he always had something interesting to say.  At one high-powered social psychology meeting, Jim looked out and remarked, “I doubt if there is enough testosterone in this entire audience to rob a single gas station.”
      Jim had several other interests, including woodworking, photography and losing money on soybean futures and above all his family.  He died at 66 of a brain tumor.  He faced death as he faced life, with grace, courage and humor.  (excerpts from a tribute to Jim Dabbs by Barry Ruback, Penn State University)