William James Fellow Award 1996

Richard Nisbett

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

The Association for Psychological Science names Richard Nisbett as a William James Fellow in recognition of his distinguished achievements in psychological science. Richard Nisbett has produced a remarkable set of creative, theoretical initiatives in social psychology. His several clusters of ingenious experimental findings have reshaped central issues in social psychology. He has articulated a complex, sophisticated portrait of human individuals, deftly managing to combine seeming contradictions. On the one hand, he has convincingly argued the radical thesis that people have no introspective awareness of the causes of their own everyday behavior; that they are compelled by often unrecognized social and cultural forces and are misled by "folk wisdom" and their own illusory explanations of social events and relationships. On the other hand, he has shown it possible to train people to understand and apply practical mid-level principles of sensible judgment, he has demonstrated powerful features of human inductive reasoning, and he has maintained a sense of optimism, supported by data, concerning the positive potential of culturally diverse educational environments. He is a proud articulator of the knowledge base of social psychology, and has a spirited agenda for the future. Moreover, he is by example an outstandingly creative leader in psychological science.