2016 - Richard Lucas
is a central figure in personality psychology and one of the world’s foremost investigators of well-being. After obtaining his PhD under the mentorship of Ed Diener in 2000, for the past 15 years he has been on the faculty at Michigan State University, where he is the MSU Foundation Professor. He has been the editor-in-chief for Journal of Research in Personality since 2009, and he was won numerous awards, including the early career award from the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences. Among his important discoveries are that measures of well-being are robust to various measurement biases, that extraversion is associated with positive affect for reasons of temperament, and that well-being predicts later success in work and social relationships, even after controlling for potential confounding factors such as income. Perhaps his most groundbreaking discovery has been to overturn the widely endorsed set-point theory of well-being, which stated that although major life events can influence happiness in the short-term, people eventually return to their own fixed baseline level of well-being. In a series of influential longitudinal studies, Lucas has shown that well-being does adapt, for better and for worse, to some conditions, such that long term changes in well-being can and do occur. In addition to contributing important new research findings, he has also made substantial contributions to the development of methodology—for example, conducting the largest experience-sampling study to date in his collaboration with the German Socioeconomic Panel study. He has been a leader in the movement to improve the replicability of research in psychology, conducting high-powered replications in his own lab and encouraging the publication of replications and better-powered studies in his role as a journal editor.
2015 - William Fleeson, Ph.D.
Dr. William Fleeson received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1992 and has been on the faculty of Wake Forest University for the past 19 years, where he is currently Professor of Psychology. Over the past two decades, Dr. Fleeson has made groundbreaking theoretical and empirical contributions to the field of personality psychology. Across his prolific career, Dr. Fleeson has been the leading voice in moving the field beyond the dichotomy of the person-situation debate by offering a theoretical framework that integrates intra-individual variability in behavior across situations with between-person stability in traits over time. This framework, which began with Dr. Fleeson’s seminal 2001 JPSP article on the density distribution model of traits and has culminated more recently with his Whole Trait Theory, bridges the gap between traditional structural trait approaches and more dynamic social-cognitive process perspectives on personality. In his work, Dr. Fleeson has applied his uniquely dynamic and integrative perspective on personality to a broad range of important topics, including extraversion and positive affect, borderline personality disorder, self-regulation, adult development and aging, and moral character, and he has been a methodological innovator in the use of experience-sampling methods to study personality processes. Dr. Fleeson’s thoughtful contributions to both theory and methodology have been inspirational and instructive for the field of personality and have offered productive points of connection with social, developmental, and clinical psychology as well as philosophy. In addition to his scholarly accomplishments, Dr. Fleeson has been a dedicated leader in the field, serving as President of the Association for Research in Personality and Associate Editor for both JPSP and JRP. He has also shown a strong commitment over the years to supporting and encouraging young researchers. Please join the committee in honoring Dr. William Fleeson with the 2015 Diener Award in Personality Psychology.
2014 - Kennon M. Sheldon, Ph.D.
Dr. Kennon Sheldon received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Davis. He has been on the faculty of psychology at the University of Missouri since 1997. Dr. Sheldon has made substantial theoretical and empirical contributions to personality and social psychology. In numerous empirical papers, Dr. Sheldon has repeatedly demonstrated the importance of autonomous motivation and goal pursuit in subjective well-being. Moreover, he developed a comprehensive model of the self, motivation, and well-being in his 2004 book entitled Optimal Human Being: An Integrated Multi-level Perspective, displaying an extraordinary depth and breadth of knowledge in this area. Over the past ten years, Dr. Sheldon has also developed the sustainable model of happiness, and identified specific ways in which a positive change in happiness could be acquired and retained over an extended period of time. Not surprisingly, his scholarly influence is enormous, reaching well beyond personality and social psychology to clinical and counseling psychology, positive psychology, educational psychology, and business ethics.
2013 - Andrew J. Elliot, Ph.D.
The recipient of the 2013 Carol and Ed Diener Award for Outstanding Mid-Career Contributions to Personality Psychology is Andrew J. Elliot. Dr. Elliot received his Ph.D. in 1994 from the University of Wisconsin and has spent his career at the University of Rochester where he is currently a Professor of Psychology. The recipient of three different early career awards, Dr. Elliot has made significant and substantial contributions to personality/social psychology. His research on approach/avoidance motivation has fostered renewed excitement about classic theoretical questions. His work in this area has clear and far reaching implications for research in emotion, clinical psychology, developmental psychology, educational psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, and sport and exercise psychology. His research integrating perceptual processes in social judgments implicates as well evolutionary frameworks and the psychology of gender. The quality of his work is demonstrated in its profound impact. He was named the most impactful scholar at his career stage in 2010. Federally or privately funded for the last 17 years, Dr. Elliot’s scholarship reveals a rare combination of theoretical depth, empirical rigor, methodological acumen, and deep interest in questions that matter to the world at large.
His great accomplishments are all the more remarkable considering the time and energy Dr. Elliot has generously shared with the field in various roles. He has been active in a diverse array of service roles on a host of committees within our science. Perhaps most importantly, he has served in numerous editorial capacities, representing the interests of personality psychologists, with vision, wisdom, thoughtfulness, enthusiasm, and compassion. Dr. Elliot has been a tremendous asset to personality science. For his scientific and professional contributions, the selection committee proudly honors Andy Elliot.
2012 - Rick Robins, Ph.D.
Dr. Rick Robins’ many contributions to the field of personality psychology, integrating individual differences with social and developmental processes, are innovative and programmatic. He is a broad and creative theorist, a careful and sophisticated methodologist, and productive researcher. His contributions fall into three broad areas: (a) the nature and development of personality and its consequences for psychological functioning, (b) self-esteem processes and development, and (c) the regulation and expression of self-conscious emotions. He has also published important papers about trends in the field of psychology. Several important features characterize his work: the use of both longitudinal and experimental designs; the use of multiple measures and data sources; the study of people in naturalistic interactions and contexts; an emphasis on individual differences as well as general social processes; and an attempt to understand development across the lifespan, particularly during adolescence and young adulthood. Overall, his work is theoretically driven, programmatic, and focused on important topics and questions. Dr. Robins recently co-edited the Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research, which serves as a contemporary definition of the field. He also recently published two articles that compare and contrast the research methods, statistical procedures, and underlying theoretical assumptions of researchers in personality and social psychology. In a "Perspectives” for Science, Dr. Robins discussed the implications of recent findings in the field of personality psychology for a number of broader scientific and societal issues, including health and mortality, criminality and drug abuse, academic and job success, and the capacity to have successful and lasting relationships. Dr. Robins is truly a leader in the field of personality psychology, and his work provides an intellectual foundation for many important areas within personality psychology, and between personality and social psychology.
2011 - Laura King, Ph.D.
The recipient of the 2011 Carol and Ed Diener Award for Outstanding Mid-Career Contributions to Personality Psychology was Laura King. Dr. King received her Ph.D. in 1991 from the University of California Davis and began her career at Southern Methodist University. She moved to the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2001, where she is now the Frederick A. Middlebush Professor. Dr. King has made significant and substantial contributions to personality psychology for the past 20 years. Her research on life meaning and positive psychology has been well received by the field, as indicated by her receiving the Templeton Prize in Positive Psychology. Dr. King has published many important findings about the happiness of specific groups, such as gay adults, and these studies have informed the understanding of the personality dynamics of these groups, as well as how people make meaning from life. Throughout her career she has focused on how people fulfill their wishes, what factors contribute to experience of living a good life, and the subjective nature of self-reflection.
2010 - Todd Heatherton
2009 - Oliver John
2008 - David Watson
2007 - Brent Roberts