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OSS Assessment

Background: In World War II the Office of Strategic Services (predecessor of the CIA) was assigned the task of selecting agents for a variety of espionage jobs. The task was a very difficult assessment problem and they developed a number of creative approaches. Candidates for the OSS were brought to an assessment center (Station S) and put through a variety of individual and team tasks.

The Brook Situation

A group of candidates were asked to cross a 15 foot wide stream (imagined to be a canyon) carrying a log (imagined to be a delicate piece of equipment) and return with a rock (imagined to be explosives) and all parties. They were not permitted to jump but were asked to solve the problem as a group. They were given 10 minutes to generate a plan. No one was named the leader so there was opportunity to take leadership. Psychologists observed features such as: The Brook Situation:


Murphy, K. & Davidshofer, C. (1998). Psychological testing: Principles and applications, 4th Ed., Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

OSS Assessment Staff. (1948). Assessment of men: Selection of personnel for the Office of Strategic Services. NY: Rinehart & Co.

OSS Assessment Page | Psychology Whimsies

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Website created: June 1996. Page Created: March, 1999. Last Modified: August 21, 1999.