Howard S. Friedman
University of California, Riverside
While Howard Friedman’s groundbreaking research and innovative ideas have nourished several areas in psychology, his work has been particularly influential in sculpting the features of contemporary health psychology. A true pioneer, Friedman’s diverse interests, coupled with his remarkable abilities to gather and synthesize information, have produced incisive theory and sophisticated research designs addressing complex integrations of psychosocial development and overall health.
Friedman’s quantitative reviews and identification of the “disease-prone personality” changed basic thinking and paradigms in this age-old field. His detailed life-span longitudinal studies of psychosocial factors and health have uncovered startling and dynamic findings, such as that childhood personality, particularly conscientiousness, is predictive of lifelong mortality risk. This meticulous work has inspired a great deal of follow-up research by others.
Friedman’s breadth of contribution — including work that is theoretical, empirical, and applied — is striking, and it has applications extending well beyond psychology. His research on individual differences, emotional contagion, and the fundamental importance of nonverbal skills is widely applied in fields such as medical education, viral marketing, health promotion, and leadership training. He regularly reaches out to a broader audience, with textbooks in both personality and health psychology, an award-winning encyclopedia, and a widely distributed book on the “self-healing personality.” Accessible and supportive, Friedman has won multiple awards for his teaching and mentoring.
Few scholars can step back and view the big picture effectively while still making rigorous, significant, nuts-and-bolts contributions to the scientific corpus. Friedman can and does, and his work is changing how we think about the nature of health.