2018 APS Mentor Award

Gordon H. Bower

Stanford University

Gordon H. Bower is the Albert Ray Lang Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, at Stanford University. Bower is a leading member of the generation of psychologists who defined modern cognitive psychology. He has made seminal contributions in learning and conditioning, mathematical psychology, human memory, memory for narratives, and the effects of mood and emotion on memory and social judgments.

Bower also has been a mentor to about 54 graduate students who over decades have filled major departments throughout the world. While the issues and fashions of the time changed, Gordon provided his graduate students with constant, no-nonsense messages about the great intellectual challenges of our field. He provided clear feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of their ideas and efforts. At the same time, he welcomed debate with students as a way for them to hone their reasoning skills.

He took a personal interest in his mentees: When one of his graduate students got married thousands of miles from friends and family, Gordon and his wife, Sharon, organized a celebration. When he noticed that another student had a long, dark walk home from campus, he offered to give her a scooter. Bower frequently reaches out to his former students, rooting for them during difficult times and celebrating their achievements. The affection of his students for their mentor is quite apparent. Twice they got together to edit books, once in honor of his 50th birthday and once upon his retirement and Festschrift. As they wrote, “we carry with us a splinter of Gordon’s integrity, respect, and love for good science.”

Bower is a 2005 recipient of the President’s National Medal of Science, and a 1989 recipient of the Association for Psychological Science (APS) William James Fellow Award. He is a Past President of APS and also has been President of the Psychonomic Society and the Cognitive Science Society.