Raymond Cattell, inventor of the Cattell personality test, was due to receive the award at the American Psychological Association's annual meeting in Chicago. Mr Cattell, 92, was born in Britain but spent most of his career in America where he built up an international reputation. He and the equally controversial Hans Eysenck, who has brain cancer and has withdrawn from professional engagements, dominated the field of personality testing. In fact, some of their tests are still used.
Critics of Mr Cattell say he was a strong believer in eugenics who thought that a growing number of less intelligent people should be discouraged from having children and claim that he founded a new religious movement, "Beyondism", based on eugenics. He is also alleged to have made anti- semitic statements in the 1930s which he has never retracted.
A panel of psychologists will now consider whether the criticisms are valid. A spokesperson for the association said: "We need to investigate his work and see if the criticisms of him have been taken out of context. We need to determine if the accusations of racism... influenced the science."