2008-2009 James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award
Lyn Y. Abramson
University of Wisconsin – Madison
Lauren B. Alloy
Throughout their 30 years of extraordinarily fruitful collaboration, Lyn Y. Abramson and Lauren B. Alloy have made significant contributions to research and theory in psychopathology, with applications that span clinical psychology as well as social and personality psychology.
In their 1989 paper Hopelessness depression: A theory-based subtype of depression, Abramson and Alloy proposed the hopelessness theory of depression, which subsequently stimulated a bounty of empirical inquiry. The sophisticated research conducted by Alloy and Abramson, their students, and their colleagues has convincingly documented that hopelessness depression exists and conforms to the theoretical predictions they put forth in their now-classic paper. Abramson and Alloy’s empirical work, especially a massive, five-year prospective study, is as ambitious and precise as their theoretical contributions. The concepts they have developed in hopelessness theory, such as attributional style, are now mainstays in the study of problems as diverse as addictions, paranoia, marital distress, mania, anxiety, eating disorders, developmental maltreatment and abuse, physical illness, and suicidality.
In recent years, Abramson and Alloy have further developed and empirically tested a biopsychosocial theory of bipolar disorder, the Behavioral Approach System (BAS) dysregulation model. Their work on the BAS model promises to make a contribution to the understanding of the onset and course of bipolar spectrum disorders that is as significant as their previous work was to the understanding of unipolar depression.
Abramson and Alloy stand with a small handful of true pioneers in the field who have revolutionized how we think about psycholopathology.