Interview with Psychologists

Each year, we ask psychology professors a series of questions that we think might provide useful information to current students.

This issue, we asked: Outside of your professional lineage, who has had a major impact on your work? In what way?

Rebecca Shiner, Colgate University

One of the experiences that inspired me to pursue the study of personality development was reading a paper by Avshalom Caspi in my graduate social development course. The paper traced the links between children's tendencies toward shyness and irritability and their adult outcomes. I loved that paper and felt encouraged to pursue similar questions. I finally met Caspi a few years later at a small expert meeting in Ghent, Belgium. I flew to that meeting despite being nearly 8 months pregnant in part because I wanted to meet him. At the meeting, he invited me to collaborate on a theory paper, and we have since published a number of review papers and chapters together. He helped me to become a better writer, and he has always reminded me to focus on big questions--the ones that may have an impact on individuals' real lives.

Keith Maddox, Tufts University

Probably Claude Steele, but more as a role model.  I attended a talk at Michigan that helped me decide to pursue graduate study in psychology and become a professor.  Four years later, I saw him give a talk on stereotype threat that helped me think about what kind of impact I’d ultimately like my work to have toward addressing problems of race and ethnicity.

Angela Lagg, Pace University

I first really began considering a career in research when a close family friend, Bonnie, was diagnosed with colon cancer. She participated in several research studies during her battle with cancer and I learned about the significance of psychosocial care as well as biological care.