1999 William James Fellow Award
Edward E. Smith
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Edward E. Smith is one of the world’s leading cognitive psychologists. He has conducted important research on mental chronology, human short-term and semantic memory, language understanding, and memory organization. His ground-breaking research on knowledge representation culminated with his celebrated book with Douglas Medin on categories and concepts. He has extended this work to deal with important questions concerning induction, reasoning, and probabilistic judgment. Recent cognitive neuroscience work of a highly original nature has resolved long-standing questions about the role of exemplars vs. rules in categorization, establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that quite two different types of categorization processes exist.
Edward E. Smith’s impact extends far beyond cognitive psychology. As much as anyone in the field he has been a bridge to the other fields of psychology- social, clinical, personality, developmental and education- and he has in fact collaborated with colleagues in each of these fields. He has shown how cognitive psychology can provide good theoretical foundations and useful tools for these other fields. Moreover, his conversance with psycholinguistics, artificial intelligence, and epistemology has allowed him to have an impact far beyond psychology.
Not least, he has been a dedicated and hugely successful teacher of both undergraduates and graduates and has mentored some of the finest cognitive psychologists we have.