Donald Clifton, 79; Former Head of Gallup Polling Firm

From Staff and Wire Reports

Donald Clifton, 79, former chairman of the Gallup Organization polling firm, died Sunday of cancer in Lincoln, Neb.

Clifton took over at Gallup after it was acquired by his company, Selection Research Inc., in 1988. He started the company in 1969 after teaching educational psychology at the University of Nebraska.

Under Clifton’s leadership, Gallup grew beyond public opinion polling to management consulting. His company advised businesses on how to improve productivity by tailoring their practices to their employees’ strengths.

Last year, the American Psychological Assn. gave Clifton, a trained psychologist, a lifetime achievement award, calling him “the father of strengths-based psychology and the grandfather of positive psychology.”


Born in Butte, Mont., Clifton graduated from the University of Nebraska and served in the Army Air Forces during World War II, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross.