2004-2005 James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award

Stephen J. Ceci

Cornell University

Stephen J. Ceci is among the most internationally influential and well-known developmental psychologists. His research spans basic and applied questions, with seminal and highly cited contributions to both areas. Ceci’s bioecological theory of intellectual development predicted a pattern of associations among ecological, genetic, and cognitive variables as a function of proximal processes, in advance of data confirming this pattern. His findings have led to significant advances in how we think about intelligence, memory, and reasoning in children and adults. This work, which includes studies of children baking cookies, gamblers at the track, and young video game players, has carved his imprint into the theoretical landscape through award-winning books and articles.

His studies of children’s suggestibility with Maggie Bruck are an elegant integration of cognitive, social, and biological processes. Their research and their writings have had a major impact on clinical and forensic practices for child witnesses not only in North America, but across the western world.

Ceci is one of a handful of highly creative thinkers who have redefined modern developmental psychology’s approach to a number of topics. For example, in order to bring science to the relevant constituencies in the real world, he has gone beyond the traditional avenue of journal and book publication. His effort with Robert Bjork to launch a high quality publication that would have multi-disciplinary appeal and that would also be available to the non-academic audience has resulted in the highly successful journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest. In a similar but broader project, Ceci and Wendy Williams have formed the Center for Research on Children. The ultimate goal of this project is to provide the relevant multidisciplinary developmental science to decision makers who make policy about highly complex problems.

Stephen Ceci has been a generous mentor to numerous graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and his own peers. His enthusiasm is marked by the time he spends with students and colleagues; his desire to help others to achieve academically and professionally; and by the creativity of his studies and his writings. He has paved a path that shows researchers how to cross over from the academic to the practical and how to go back again, taking what they learned from the practical to study more carefully in the laboratory.