2017 APS Mentor Award

Paul L. Harris

Harvard University


A leading developmental psychologist, Paul Harris has made enormous scientific contributions to the field of social cognition. Over the course of his career, he has explored children’s understanding of their own and others’ behavior through studying the development of emotion understanding, moral judgment, imagination, imitation, pretend play, and children’s judgment of testimonial knowledge.

To outsiders, he may be best known for the connections he bridges in scholarship; however, to his mentees he is regarded for his ability to listen carefully and form connections between individuals within his lab and across the wide array of international scholars who mark him as a friend.

Harris aims to provide consistent, thoughtful guidance in all of his interactions. As one of his mentees notes: “From seemingly simple things like answering every single email I have ever sent him to providing consistently insightful and incredibly constructive feedback on countless drafts of our papers, he has proved to be exactly the kind of exceptional mentor he is reputed to be.“

Even more impressive is Harris’ willingness to transcend typical social constructs and hierarchy. As another of his mentees reflects: “He appears to treat all data equally, at first, being little swayed by the context in which it was gathered, or by the status of the person who gathered it. He will champion any finding that is substantive, any study that is elegant and fruitful, and any person who deserves credit for such work….As a student of Paul’s, there is an inescapable truth with which you are confronted: you are worthy of respect.“