2013 William James Fellow Award
Gerald L. Clore
University of Virginia
Gerald L. Clore is one of the world’s leaders in affective science, having fundamentally shaped two major lines of work that decisively transformed the study of emotion and related topics in psychology. His work has also been influential in fields such as computer science and robotics. In every domain, Clore’s work has been marked by original and creative experimental observations paired with innovative theoretical ideas.
One of Clore’s most notable contributions lies in his introduction (along with Norbert Schwarz) of the “affect as information” hypothesis, showing that people rely on their mood as a source of embodied information about the value of an action, object, or person. His initial experiments on this topic are legendary and have become part of the accepted curriculum in introductory psychology courses all over the world. More recent work in this area showed the remarkable finding that affective feelings of valence and arousal not only shape judgments and behaviors, but also serve as a kind of top-down influence in sensory and perceptual processing. This line of inquiry has produced more than 1,800 papers since Clore introduced it in 1983, and it is now well known that affective feelings act like a “sixth sense” to help guide behavior, perception, and judgment.
Clore is also a pioneer in the appraisal theory of emotion. His book entitled The Cognitive Structure of Emotions, published with Andrew Ortony and Allan Collins, remains one of the most influential books in the science of emotion. The approach to the study of emotion outlined in this book and subsequent papers is particularly notable because of its emphasis on subjective experience during a time in psychology’s history when scientists were content to define emotion in behavioral or biological terms.
Clore is one of psychology’s deepest and most creative thinkers. His work has transformed how we understand the functions of subjective experience, and the breadth of his contributions has been achieved by very few in our field.