2020 Award Programs

The recent recipients of APS awards will be honored and speak at the APS Annual Convention.

James McKeen Cattell Award  |  William James Award  |  Mentor Award and Panel Discussion  |  Janet Taylor Spence Award Symposium

James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award Addresses

The APS James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award recognizes APS Members for a lifetime of outstanding contributions to the area of applied psychological research.  The 2020 recipients will be recognized at the APS Convention and will present Award Addresses on their research.

The Interpersonal Theory of Suicidal Behavior

Thomas E. Joiner

Florida State University

The Interpersonal Theory of Suicidal Behavior views suicidal behavior as the intersection between three main constructs: (a) a sense of burdening others, (b) social alienation from others, and (c) fearlessness about death, partly learned.  Approximately 150 studies to date have evaluated the theory, with moderately supportive results, some of which Joiner will summarize.

Promoting Positive Youth Development: Plasticity, Specificity, Non-Ergodicity, and Contributing to Social Justice Among Global Youth

Richard M. Lerner

Tufts University

Within contemporary developmental science, the study of positive youth development is framed by models emphasizing that relative plasticity, non-ergodicity, and idiography characterize dynamic relations between an individual and his/her context. These relations are the starting point of efforts to promote social justice among diverse youth. To illustrate how such models can enhance youth thriving, Lerner discusses findings from tests of these models conducted with diverse young people from both the minority and the majority worlds.  

William James Fellow Award Addresses

The APS William James Fellow Award honors APS Members for their lifetime of significant intellectual contributions to the basic science of psychology. The 2020 recipients will be recognized at the APS Convention and will present Award Addresses on their research.

Neural Mechanisms of Memory and Imagery

Neil Burgess

University College London, United Kingdom

The speaker will attempt to infer the neural mechanisms underlying spatial memory from the firing patterns of neurons recorded in freely behaving rodents. He will then describe testing the predictions for human memory and imagery, and how they might be affected by traumatic events, using cognitive psychology and functional neuroimaging.

Mindsets: Adventures, Obstacles, Surprises, and Lessons

Carol S. Dweck

Stanford University

In her award address, Dweck looks at her career and reflects on the development of mindset research in the context of the changing field: Where did the mindset research come from, where is it now, and where is it going? Along the way, she shares the surprises, the obstacles, the lessons, and, above all, the adventure and rewards of a research career in psychology.

The Essential Child: What Children Can Teach Us About the Human Mind

Susan A. Gelman

University of Michigan

Psychological essentialism is the intuition that categories reflect a hidden, non-obvious reality.  Gelman reviews evidence that essentialism is an early cognitive bias—but also that it varies substantially across cultural contexts. She discusses the role of language as a mechanism by which essentialist beliefs develop and contribute to the best and worst of human behavior.

Foundations of Social Cognition: Self-Other Mapping and the ‘Like-Me’ Hypothesis

Andrew N. Meltzoff

University of Washington

Infants rapidly learn about people, things, and causal relations, and Meltzoff has described imitation as a key mechanism. His “Like-Me” theory of development holds that infants initially identify others as being “like-me” in terms of bodily actions and that this underlies development of a more mature social cognition.

APS Mentor Awards and Panel Discussion on Mentoring

The APS Mentor Award recognizes psychology researchers and educators who have shaped the future directions of science by fostering the careers of students and colleagues. The 2020 APS Mentor Award recipients will reflect on their experiences mentoring emerging scientists during this panel discussion. This symposium will also include an awards presentation.

Chair: Megan Gunnar, University of Minnesota, 2014-2015 Mentor Award Recipient


Toni C. Antonucci
University of Michigan

Elizabeth Ligon Bjork & Robert A. Bjork
University of California,
Los Angeles


E. Tory Higgins
Columbia University
(Photo by Bruce Gilbert)

Janet Taylor Spence Award Symposium

The APS Janet Taylor Spence Award recognizes APS members who have made transformative early career contributions to psychological science. This symposium will include an awards presentation and will feature talks
by the 2020 Spence Award recipients.

Chair: Leah Somerville, Harvard University, 2014 Spence Award Recipient