2015 James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award

Ian J. Deary

University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Ian J. Deary has spent his career in the study of cognitive epidemiology, the distribution of behaviors we call “intelligence” and “personality” across different aspects of society, in an effort to understand the causes of the distribution. Among his numerous accomplishments, he analyzed public records and performed behavioral testing to show substantial consistency in cognitive and personality traits from age 11 to age 70 and beyond. He also showed that the age-11 measures were related to subsequent health, mortality, and socioeconomic status. In another study, he and his colleagues analyzed educational records from an entire cohort of English and Welsh school children, finding that a measure of general intelligence at age 11 had an astonishing correlation with general academic achievement on leaving high school.

Deary has used advances in biomedical technology and wide-range genetic analyses to relate differences in brain structure and genetic makeup to differences in cognitive and personality measures. This work has included important studies of risk factors associated with cognitive aging, going well beyond classic pedigree studies, to consider genetic and behavioral correlations in literally thousands of people who have no known family connections.

One of the hallmarks of Deary’s career has been his ability to assemble teams of colleagues, all of whom bring different skills to interdisciplinary projects. He has also been part of huge teams who conduct coordinated studies of genetics and behavior all over Europe. Other honors Deary has received for his work include Fellowships in the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and The Royal Society of Edinburgh.

See Deary’s award address presented at the 2015 APS Annual Convention in New York City.