Awards honor excellence in social and personality psychology

November 16, 2011

November 14, 2011 - Racial prejudice and stereotyping, pay-what-you-want pricing, cross-cultural training - these are just a few of the research areas of this year's winners of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) annual awards. Each of the recipients has made a unique and significant contribution to understanding the individual and social factors shaping people's personalities, interactions, and behaviors.

The Society's highest awards - the Jack Block and Donald T. Campbell awards - go to Charles S. Carver of the University of Miami and John Dovidio of Yale University, respectively. Carver's research on self-regulation over the past 30 years has helped shape modern personality psychology. His work has also examined individual differences in stress and coping and, more recently, the role of certain genes in self-regulation. Dovidio's work has shed light on modern stereotyping and discrimination, in particular how contemporary forms of prejudice and discrimination are more subtle and less recognizable than traditional racism. He is currently executive officer of SPSP and past president of the Society.

The recipients of this year's Career Contribution awards are Thomas Pettigrew and Harry Triandis. Pettigrew, of the University of California, Santa Cruz, has been at the forefront of research on racial prejudice. An expert on black-white relations in the United States, he has also conducted inter-group research in Australia, Europe, and South Africa. Triandis, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has made significant contributions to the field of cross-cultural psychology, how human behavior and mental process differ among and between cultures. He has applied his work to design cultural training to help minority groups adjust to society.

Pay-what-you-want pricing is at the center of this year's Robert B. Cialdini Award for excellence in a published field study. Ayelet Gneezy of the Rady School of Management at University of California, San Diego, and her colleagues conducted a field study involving approximately 115,000 individuals, some of whom were informed that half of their payment of choice for a photo souvenir would go to charity. Payments were five times higher compared to other conditions, showing how corporate and charitable interests can be aligned to benefit all parties. The paper, "Shared Social Responsibility: A Field Experiment in Pay-What-You-Want Pricing and Charitable Giving," was published with co-authors Uri Gneezy, Leif Nelson, and Amber Brown in Science in July 2010.

Recipients of the Carol and Ed Diener mid-career awards in personality and social psychology are Laura King of the University of Missouri and Galen Bodenhausen of Northwestern University, respectively. Laura King studies personality development in adults, and her work on happiness and meaning of life has attracted broad interest. Galen Bodenhausen is an internationally renowned expert on the mental processes underlying social attitudes, impressions, judgments, and decisions, as well as mental illness stigma.

The 2011 Media Achievement Award goes to David Brooks for showcasing the relevance of personality and social psychology to current events through his insightful articles, columns, and books. Brooks is a columnist at the the New York Times, senior editor at The Weekly Standard, a contributing editor at Newsweek and the Atlantic Monthly, and a commentator on "The Newshour with Jim Lehrer." Winners of the 2011 Media Prize are Jon Hanson of Harvard Law School and Michael McCann of Vermont Law School for creating the Situationist, an online forum for scholars, students, lawyers, policymakers, and interested citizens to discuss the effects of situational forces on society.

The remaining SPSP awards for 2011 are as follows:
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A ceremony at the 2012 annual SPSP meeting in San Diego, CA (Jan. 26-28) will honor all of this year's award recipients. www.spspmeeting.org

SPSP promotes scientific research that explores how people think, behave, and interact. With more than 7,000 members, the Society is the largest organization of social and personality psychologists in the world. www.spsp.org

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