BSc Manch 1889, Geology 1890, MSc 1899, DSc (hon) 1919; BA Camb 1894, MB Chir 1897.
McDougall was born in Chadderton Lancashire on 22 June 1871, the son of Isaac Shimwell McDougall, and the younger brother of Percy McDougall. He studied science at Owens College Manchester and St John's College Cambridge, where he graduated in medicine in 1897. However, he was interested in research rather than medical practice, and in 1898 was appointed a fellow of St John's College. He joined the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to the Torres Straits to determine the sensory capacity of the natives. He also assisted Charles Hose in his study of wild tribes in Borneo. McDougall then turned his interest towards psychology and studied in Gottingen. He returned to England in 1900 as reader at the University College, London, and in 1904 became Wilde Reader in Mental Philosophy at Oxford. He published a number of important and popular works on psychology. There were however few opportunities for a professorship in psychology in England, so when he was called to Harvard University as professor of psychology, he accepted. He began to work on eugenics and believed strongly in the inheritance of traits. McDougall was one of the most original of twentieth century psychologists. He died on 28 November 1938.