2017 - Teresa M. Amabile
Teresa M. Amabile, the Baker Foundation Professor at Harvard University, has been instrumental in building and developing a social psychology of creativity. Instead of treating creativity as an expression of individual talent, her work highlights the role of contextual and organizational factors in creative insight and performance, illuminates the interplay of the underlying social, motivational, and cognitive processes in context, and identifies opportunities to foster creativity in organizations. Teresa Amabile’s research routinely bridges the scholarly fields of psychology, education, and organizational behavior and has had a profound impact on educational and organizational practice. In recognition of these contributions Teresa Amabile is awarded the 2017 Distinguished Scholar Award.
2016 - Kay Deaux
Throughout her career, Kay Deaux has pushed the boundaries of social psychological research and theory, bringing basic social psychological insights to emerging social problems and phenomena. She studied social judgment, attribution, sex-role stereotyping, and identity, bringing clarity to domains of social psychology that sorely needed it, enlarging and enlightening our understanding of important social phenomena and showing us productive ways to connect sociological and psychological inquiry. Her early research expanded our understanding of gender, and the processes that are fundamental to women’s lives, culminating in a Psychological Review article with Brenda Major that dissected the cognitive and interpersonal processes through which gender emerges in social interactions. She has served in many leadership positions in the field, including being President of the Association for Psychological Science (1997-1998), the Society of Personality and Social Psychology, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (2004-2005), and the Midwestern Psychological Association (1982). Her work on ethnic and immigrant identities in the latter half of her career connected large-scale social issues with social psychological questions and led to the book To Be an Immigrant published by Russell Sage. She moved easily between the research laboratory and the field, with findings from one domain informing the other. Her research has brought clarity and a broad theoretical vision to complex social phenomena.
2015 - Phillip Shaver, Ph.D.
The extraordinary research career of Professor Phillip R. Shaver has integrated attachment, psychodynamic, evolutionary, cognitive, and social perspectives on interpersonal behavior and affect regulation. His pioneering theories, methods, and findings have revolutionized the study of interpersonal relationships. By combining theoretical insights from attachment theory and contemporary methods from cognitive and social-cognitive psychology, Professor Shaver has helped to make long-standing psychodynamic hypotheses testable, helped revive the study of unconscious motivation and defensive processes, greatly advanced the study of love and close relationships, and has expanded our understanding of the social aspects of emotion regulation. Indeed, one cannot imagine the field of close relationships without Professor Shaver’s contributions. Even more generally, he has been one of the most productive and talented contributors to research on personality, emotion, and relationships during recent decades. His deep knowledge of different areas and his integrative mind have enabled him to translate philosophical, sociological, and political ideas into psychological terms and scientific tests. The breadth, depth, curiosity, open-mindedness, and disciplined creativity of his work continue to inspire researchers around the world.
2014 - Edward L. Deci, Ph.D.
Edward L. Deci, Gowen Professor in the Social Sciences at the University of Rochester, is one of the most broadly influential psychologists in the world. With Richard Ryan, he developed self-determination theory (SDT), which proposes that the satisfaction of people’s needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness fosters motivation and engagement and thereby leads to enhanced performance, creativity, growth and well-being. The theory has been highly generative. Its impact has ranged from basic research on motivational micro-processes to applied clinical trials aimed at population outcomes. It has been used to inform approaches to behavior change in such diverse contexts as education, health care, work organizations, parenting and mental health. It has opened many new areas of inquiry. In honoring Edward Deci, the award lives up to its goal of honoring a scholar who has made distinctively valuable contributions across a career in areas that expand the core of social and personality research and/or integrate different topics in the discipline in significant ways.
2013 - Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.
Dr. Carol Dweck is currently the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, epitomizes the qualities that characterize a Distinguished Scholar. This award honors a scholar who has made distinctively valuable research contributions across his or her career in areas that expand the core of social and personality research and/or integrates different topics in the discipline in significant ways. Dr. Dweck’s distinctively creative work has examined, across different age groups and in different domains, how people’s self-conceptions (or mindsets) structure their lives and determines their achievement. In a series of ground-breaking studies, Dr. Dweck demonstrated how people with a "growth mindset,” who believe that certain qualities (e.g., intelligence) can be developed through effort, good teaching, or persistence, make life choices that lead to greater success than those with a "fixed mindset,” who assume that basic abilities are unchangeable. This fundamental distinction in orientation profoundly affects people’s motivation, psychological well-being, and learning. These ideas have been extended to apply to work in diverse areas, such as in emotions and intergroup relations. Dr. Dweck’s scholarship is truly integrative: It bridges developmental, social and personality psychology and has critical implications for education. In addition, her creative insights have had enormous impact practically, as well theoretically. Interventions that change children’s mindsets from fixed to growth have produced dramatic, sustained improvements in academic performance. Dr. Dweck has offered original insights that have fundamentally changed the way the field – and the broader public – understand human development, motivation, social relations, and personality.
2012 - James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D.
James ("Jamie”) Pennebaker
is one of the most broadly influential psychological scientists in the world today. His wide-ranging research on self-disclosure, language use, symptom perception, and health has had an extraordinary impact on personality and social psychology, clinical and health psychology, cognitive science, life-span developmental studies, and even scholarship in the humanities. His initial work demonstrated how social factors influence the perception of physical symptoms, with implications for treatment-seeking and well-being. In a series of studies that have been replicated and expanded in scope, Pennebaker and his team famously showed that writing about personal trauma and other negative life experiences can have long-term positive effects on physical health and psychological well-being. Pennebaker’s groundbreaking experiments on self-disclosure and health opened up broader inquiries into the nature of language use in everyday life. Through computer text analysis programs and other methods, he also has examined the general question of how the words we use in talk and writing reflect our underlying feelings, thoughts, and personality, and how they influence the nature and meaning of social behavior. Pennebaker’s methods for analyzing language use have been applied to everything from personal conversations and diaries to the full corpus of Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays. The findings and implications of this remarkable body of work have been published in many scientific papers and chapters, inspiring whole new areas of research, and they have reached the general public through Pennebaker’s highly successful popular books, such as The Secret Life of Pronouns.