Cover Story

Stanford University psychologist Albert Bandura, PhD, accepted APA's highest honor--the Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology Award--at the opening session of APA's 2004 Annual Convention.

Bandura, who was greeted by an enthusiastic standing ovation, is the David Starr Jordan Professor of Social Science in Psychology at Stanford and the field's most-cited psychologist. Introductory psychology students perhaps know him as the researcher who conducted the Bobo doll experiments--which found that nursery school children readily adopted novel forms of aggression they saw modeled.

APA President Diane F. Halpern, PhD, noted as she presented the award that the Bobo studies changed the field's thinking about learning--from a view that learning required overt action to the understanding that much of what we learn occurs through the power of social modeling.

His social cognitive theory--in a nutshell, that people learn from role models whose behavior they wish to emulate--has had a broad impact, she said. For example, the theory has been successfully applied in business, schools, health care and public television programs that promote healthy choices and moral decisions (see page 70, "Changing behavior through TV heroes").

In his acceptance speech, Bandura acknowledged mentor Arthur Benton, from his graduate school days at the University of Iowa, and his Stanford colleagues, including Robert Sears, the chair of the psychology department when Bandura joined the faculty there in 1953.

"This occasion affords me the opportunity to acknowledge my indebtedness to the many people who lightened my labors and enriched my scholarship," Bandura said. "I would also like to thank them for their gift of the elegant words of the poet Yeats: 'Ask where my glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.'"