2016 - David Sears
David Sears is Professor of Psychology and Political Science at UCLA. He received his PhD in Personality and Social Psychology from Yale University in 1962, where he studied attitudes. Still actively engaged in research, he studies public opinion, intergroup conflict, and attitudes, with a focus on racism in politics, political realignments prompted by the civil rights movement, and political multiculturalism, among other topics. Dr. Sears has done more than any other scholar to bridge the fields of political science and social psychology, and elucidate the role of race in American political life. His research on symbolic racism, defined “as a form of resistance to change in the racial status quo based on moral feelings that blacks violate such traditional American values as individualism and self-reliance, the work ethic, obedience, and discipline” (Kinder & Sears, 1981) has elucidated how concerns for self-interest and symbolic meanings of race shape our political discourse, opinions, and behaviors.
2016 - Michael Ross
Michael Ross is Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology at the University of Waterloo. He received his PhD from the University of North Carolina, where he worked with John Thibaut. Dr. Ross spent a career studying how we maintain and defend positive self-conceptions through attribution processes, autobiographical memory, social comparison, and relationship processes. His research explored self-serving biases in attributions for success and failure, how people’s self-concepts influence their autobiographical memories and how their autobiographical memories influence their self-concepts, biases in people’s memories and understanding of conflict and injustice, group and cultural identity, the nature and effectiveness of apologies and reparations for past wrongs, and cognitive aging. His seminal work showed how cognitive and motivational processes shape our conceptions and memories of ourselves, as exemplified by his classic 1979 JPSP with Fiore Sicoly, helped set the intellectual stage for the explosion of motivated social cognition research that has advanced our understanding of self-esteem, relationships, and social judgment in the decades that followed.
2015 - Harry Reis, PhD
Harry Reis has made major contributions to the development of relationship science, including understanding the basic processes that create good relationships, the importance of close relationships to well-being, and the study of daily life. His contributions include theoretical, methodological, and empirical advances. Among many contributions, he pioneered research on social interactions in daily experience with the development of the Rochester Interaction Record, identified predictors of daily experiences of well-being, and studied processes such as intimacy, responsiveness, and capitalization that build close relationships. He has authored or edited four books and over 100 articles and chapters. Harry received his Ph.D. from New York University in 1975, and has been on the faculty at the University of Rochester ever since. He has won numerous awards, including a Distinguished Career Award from the International Association for Relationships Research and Distinguished Scholar Article in Personal Relationships. Harry has also received awards from SPSP for his important service contributions to SPSP and the field of social and personality psychology more broadly. He has served as Executive Officer of SPSP, and President of SPSP and the International Society for the Study of Personal Relationships, and is currently President of the Foundation for Personality and Social Psychology. He was editor of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and served on grant review panels for NIMH and NSF.
2015 - Yaacov Trope, PhD
Yaacov Trope has made important contributions to social and personality psychology for more than four decades. His early work focused on social hypothesis testing regarding the self (self-assessment) and others (attributional inference), and dual process theories in social psychology. His most impactful contribution by far has been the development of Construal Level Theory. This elegant theory argues that people transcend the present and mentally traverse temporal, spatial, and social distance through the human capacity for abstract information processing. His theory and research examines the basic processes of construal level, and its implications for a wide range of topics important to social and personality psychologists, including judgment and decision making, self-control, self-conceptions, and procrastination, to name a few. He has authored more than 150 articles and chapters, and received numerous grants to support his research. The impact of his work, in terms of citations, has increased exponentially for the past 20 years, with almost 1000 citations in 2014 alone according to the Web of Science. Yaacov received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1974 under the direction of Eugene Burnstein. He has held faculty positions at Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, and New York University. He was awarded the SESP dissertation award, is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He will receive the 2016 APS Distinguished Mentor Award.
2014 - Phoebe C. Ellsworth, PhD
Phoebe C. Ellsworth is a pioneering scholar in multiple areas of social and personality psychology. Her early research involved ground-breaking studies of nonverbal behavior, with a focus on the interpersonal effects of eye contact and the recognition of facial expressions. Later, Dr. Ellsworth’s theoretical and empirical work on the cognitive appraisals that underlie emotion ushered in a new era of emotion research, and her studies of cultural differences in emotion paved the way for the cross-cultural study of emotion. For more than 30 years, Dr. Ellsworth has been at the forefront of social psychological research on the legal system, including research on eyewitness identification, jury decision-making, and attitudes toward capital punishment. She has also applied her expertise in this area to policy and legal debate involving wrongful convictions and the death penalty, including serving on the Advisory Board for the Center on Wrongful Convictions and the Board of Directors for the Death Penalty Information Center, and chairing a task force of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues that drafted a position statement on the death penalty.Dr. Ellsworth earned her A.B. from Radcliffe College and her Ph.D. at Stanford University and held faculty positions as Yale and Stanford before moving to the University of Michigan, where she is the Frank Murphy Distinguished University Professor of Psychology and Law. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Association for Psychological Science, the Society for Experimental Social Psychology, and the International Society for Research on Emotion, as well as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Law and Society Association.
2014 - Letitia Anne Peplau, PhD
Letitia Anne Peplau has made major contributions to social and personality psychology both through her extensive record of research and writing and through her generative impact on the development of relationship science more generally. Dr. Peplau’s studies of the dynamics of close relationships and of the experience of loneliness were at the vanguard of the emergence of interest in close relationships among social psychologists, and her measure of loneliness remains the gold standard in the field. She was also at the forefront of social psychological interest in human sexuality and sexual relationships, and she has been a leading figure in the study of same-sex relationships for nearly 40 years. As co-author of a leading textbook in social psychology (with Taylor and Sears), Dr. Peplau also helped to bring social psychology to many generations of college students. Dr. Peplau received her bachelor’s degree from Brown University and her Ph.D. from Harvard. She spent her career as a faculty member at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she is Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Emeritus. She is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and multiple divisions of the American Psychological Association, a member of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology and the American Sociological Association, and former president of the International Society for the Study of Personal Relationships. She has received scientific contribution awards from the Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues (APA Division 44) and the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality.
2013 - C. Daniel Batson, PhD
C. Daniel Batson, Professor Emeritus at the University of Kansas, received his Ph.D. in psychology from Princeton University as well as a Ph.D. in theology from Princeton Theological Seminary. Professor Batson spent his entire career at the University of Kansas, and after retirement from Kansas in 2008 now holds a position in the psychology department at the University of Tennessee. Professor Batson’s interests focus on topics that bridge concerns in psychology and religion, including altruism, empathy, compassion, and the social psychology of religion.
Professor Batson has published four books and more than 150 scholarly articles and chapters. He is perhaps best known as a leading proponent for the existence of pure or selfless altruism. Although acknowledging that people sometimes help others for selfish reasons, Batson maintains that some instances of prosocial behavior reflect pure altruism in which people help out of a genuine concern for others and with no benefits for themselves. The long-standing egoism-altruism debate between Batson and Robert Cialdini ranks among the most influential and generative exchanges in social psychology. Professor Batson also co-authored with John Darley a frequently-cited study of bystander intervention in which seminary students were less likely to help a confederate in distress when they were in a hurry, even when they were on their way to deliver a talk on the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
Batson's contributions to the psychology of religion include his extension of Gordon Allport’s distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic religious orientations to include a form of religiosity that he calls quest. Quest involves the degree to which a person’s religion involves an ongoing, open-ended investigation of existential questions, and Professor Batson’s work shows that this orientation relates to religious behavior differently than other forms of religiosity. He has also written extensively about religious experiences and proposed an influential four-stage model of religious experience with Patricia Schoenrade and Larry Ventis. For his contributions to understanding the social and psychological aspects of religious experience, Batson received the William James Award from Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality (APA Division 36).
2013 - Jim Sidanius, PhD
Jim Sidanius is Professor of Psychology and African American Studies at Harvard University. Professor Sidanius received his Ph.D. at the University of Stockholm, Sweden in 1977. The title of his Dissertation was, "Cognitive functioning and socio-political ideology: studies in political psychology.” Prior to joining the faculty at Harvard in 2006, he taught at several universities in the United States and Europe, including the University of Stockholm, the University of Texas at Austin, Carnegie Mellon University, New York University, Princeton University, and University of California at Los Angeles.
Professor Sidanius has authored over 150 scientific papers, and his most important theoretical contribution to date is the development of social dominance theory, summarized in his book (in collaboration with Felicia Pratto), Social Dominance: An Intergroup Theory of Social Hierarchy and Oppression (1999). Social dominance theory notably explains the acceptance of group-based social hierarchy by both the dominant and oppressed groups. Long before others were convinced, Jim Sidanius understood the inevitability and the significance of hierarchy in structuring society, social relations and psychological functioning. He pioneered the study of the widely shared cultural ideologies (i.e., legitimizing myths) that provide the moral and intellectual justification for group—based hierarchies. Research in his lab also demonstrated that beliefs about group-based social dominance represent a measurable individual difference dimension (Social Dominance Orientation) that relates to a variety of social attitudes including racism, sexism, homophobia, and is related to and independent of political-economic conservatism. In addition to his ground-breaking work on the interface between political ideology and cognitive functioning, his studies have contributed to the understanding of group conflict, institutional discrimination and the evolutionary psychology of intergroup prejudice.
Among his other most significant publications are Racialized Politics: Values Ideology and Prejudice in American Public Opinion (2000) and The Diversity Challenge: Social Identity and Intergroup Relations on the College Campus (2010). Professor Sidanius was the recipient of the 2006 Harold Lasswell Award for "Distinguished Scientific Contribution in the Field of Political Psychology” awarded by the International Society of Political Psychology, and in 2007 he was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
2012 - Samuel Gaertner
For more than a third of a century, Samuel Gaertner has been a major contributor to social psychology’s study of how to reduce intergroup prejudice, discrimination and conflict. Such widely used concepts as "aversive racism” and "common ingroup identity” derive directly from his extensive laboratory and field research. And, together with Jack Dovidio, Sam formed one of the most notable and productive mentor-student teams in the discipline’s history. Sam received his B.A. from Brooklyn College in 1964 and his Ph.D. from the City University of New York in 1970 where he worked with Stanley Milgram. As Professor of Psychology at the University of Delaware, he has served social psychology in multiple editorial roles. He has been a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin and Group Processes and Intergroup Relations as well as the current co-editor of Social Issues and Policy Review. Not surprisingly, Sam’s important contributions have received repeated recognition – including the prestigious Kurt Lewin Memorial Award and twice (with Dovidio) the Allport Intergroup Relations Prize.
2012 - Phillip Shaver
Professor Phillip Shaver is social psychology’s leading figure in research relating attachment theory to romantic love, couple communication, relationship loss, and grieving. Drawing on his initial insight that infant attachment theory should apply throughout life, Phil went on to demonstrate this point empirically and develop it theoretically. His brilliant and generative insight launched a major area of study within social psychology. In addition, his impactful contributions to the field of emotions include individuals’ and cultures’ cognitive representations of emotions and how conceptions of everyday emotions vary across cultures. Phil received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1970 and has held faculty positions at Columbia, New York University, the University of Denver, SUNY Buffalo, and University of California, Davis, where he is currently Distinguished Professor of Psychology. Phil is the author of numerous research articles and books that have influenced the development of theory and research on both relationships and emotions, including a 2007 book (with Mario Mikulincer) on adult attachment. In addition, Phil has given tirelessly to the field through his many editorial responsibilities and leadership positions.
2011 - Thomas Pettigrew
Professor Thomas Pettigrew is the author of several hundred research articles and books that have influenced the development of theory and stimulated laboratory and field research on topics spanning social comparison and relative deprivation to race relations throughout the world. He was an early and powerful force in social psychology’s focus on prejudice, intergroup relations, and intergroup contact. For more than 50 years, Thomas Pettigrew has been at the forefront of research on racial prejudice and intergroup relations, for which he has received numerous awards, including the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues’s Kurt Lewin Award and its Gordon Allport Award (twice). His work is distinguished by its emphasis on how racism and prejudice can be reduced through intergroup contact and changing social norms. He has conducted research in Europe, South Africa, and Australia, and his work has had worldwide impact on the growing field of intergroup relations. Not content to remain only in the academy, he has prepared materials for National Educational Television and other media outlets on race relations, and he has served as an expert witness in key desegregation cases. Thomas Pettigrew’s inspirational career is a model for those who would influence not only social psychology, but also the world it describes for the better.
2011 - Harry Triandis
Working tirelessly and enthusiastically, Professor Harry Triandis pioneered the psychological study of culture. Long before others were convinced, he understood that culture matters for all aspects of behavior and demonstrated that it could be systematically analyzed using psychological tasks in the laboratory and the field. Among his most significant contributions is the theory that individualism and collectivism are distinct culturally derived frameworks that provide implicit and far-reaching scripts for behavior. Always seeking to foster cross-cultural appreciation and understanding, Harry Triandis has traveled the world presenting at international conferences, collaborating with scholars from around the globe, and training young scientists. Concerned with the practical application of his theorizing, he designed methods for cross-cultural training that reduce the shock among those encountering each others' culture for the first time, and edited the international volume of the Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. For his persistent efforts in internationalizing psychology, Harry Triandis has received numerous awards, including an honorary degree from the University of Athens, Greece, the American Psychological Association's Award for Distinguished Contributions to International Psychology,the Lifetime Contribution Award from the Academy of Intercultural Research in 2004, and was named an honorary fellow of the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology.