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Psychologists Selected for Grawemeyer Awards

Psychologists took the honors in three of the five categories in the prestigious Grawemeyer Awards for 2007.

By Suzanne Wandersman

Psychologists took the honors in three of the five categories in the prestigious Grawemeyer Awards for 2007.

In the category of Psychology, Albert Bandura was selected for his idea that people who believe in themselves can raise their aspirations, motivation and accomplishments and are more apt to try new things by watching others do them. Bandura’s ideas have helped define the way today’s psychologists understand mind and behavior, award judges said. He was the first to prove that self-efficacy, our belief in our own capabilities, affects the tasks we choose, how much effort we put into them and how we feel while doing them. He also found that we learn not only through our own beliefs and expectations but by “modeling” or observing others, an idea that led to the development of modern social cognition theory.

Bandura is the David Starr Jordan professor of social science in psychology at Stanford University, where he has taught since 1953. He received the APA Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award in 1980. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he also was elected to the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine. In 2006, he won the American Psychological Foundation’s Gold Medal Award for distinguished lifetime contribution to psychological science and, in 2004, the Association for Psychological Science James McKeen Cattell Award for distinguished achievements in psychological science.

Bandura is past President of APA, and has served APA in many offices. He has served on the editorial boards of many journals, including current service to Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, Media Psychology, Social Behavior and Personality, Applied Psychology, Cognitive Therapy and Research and Behavior Research and Therapy.

In the Education, category Edward Zigler, Walter Gilliam, and Stephanie Jones share the award for their 2006 book, A Vision for Universal Preschool Education which supports making preschool available to all children age 3 and older in the United States. They believe universal preschool would improve the school readiness of the nation’s young children, fill a gap for working families, lower the high school dropout rate, reduce crime and boost the economy. Using research gathered over four decades, the winners set out specific actions that can be taken to develop good universal preschool systems.

Edward Zigler is a Yale University professor emeritus of psychology and helped found the nation’s Head Start program. He directs a child development and social policy center at Yale that carries his name. Walter Gilliam is a Yale psychologist and conducts research on the effects of preschool programs. Stephanie Jones is a Fordham University psychologist and studies the social and emotional aspects of early childhood and adolescence.

In the category of Ideas Improving World Order, Philip Tetlock was selected for his ideas in his 2005 book, Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? In a 20-year study of 27,000 predictions by 284 political experts, Tetlock found those who take a big-picture approach are more often correct than those who operate from a single perspective. However, according to Tetlock, all political “experts” who do forecasts need to receive more training, do more research and be held publicly accountable for their advice. Award judges called the book “a landmark study that changes our understanding of the way experts perform when they make judgments about world politics.”

Tetlock is the Mitchell Professor of Organizational Behavior in the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also affiliated with the psychology and political science departments. Previously, Tetlock was the Harold Burtt Professor of Psychology and Political Science at The Ohio State University. He was a professor of psychology for over 15 years. Among Tetlock’s many professional honors are a 1999 National Academy of Sciences award for behavioral research related to the prevention of nuclear war, the 1988 Behavioral Research Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the 1986 APA Early Career Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychological Science, and two scientific awards from the International Society of Political Psychology, one in 1987 and another in 1997.

H. Charles Grawemeyer, industrialist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, created the Grawemeyer Awards at the University of Louisville in 1984. Although the University of Louisville graduate was a chemical engineer by schooling, Grawemeyer cherished the liberal arts and chose to honor powerful ideas in five fields in performing arts, the humanities, and the social sciences. Grawemeyer distinguished the awards by honoring ideas rather than life-long or publicized personal achievement.

The first award, Music Composition, was presented in 1985. The award for Ideas Improving World Order was added in 1988 and Education in 1989. In 1990, a fourth award, Religion, was added as a joint prize with the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Psychology was added in 2000, with the first award given in 2001.

The Grawemeyer Awards each carry a prize of $200,000, making them among the most lucrative in their respective fields.

For additional biographical information about these winners and for a list of past winners, visit the Grawemeyer website.