2000 William James Fellow Award

E. Tory Higgins

Columbia University

For fundamental theoretical and empirical contributions to the science of psychology in a variety of domains, Professor Higgins has been among the initiators and prime movers of the “cognitive revolution” in social psychology that altered the character of the fields and chartered out new conceptual and methodological territories for social cognitive research.

His work on knowledge activation has inspired whole generations of researchers and has become one of the most important contributions to social psychological knowledge over the last fifty years. In parallel to his work on social cognition Tory Higgins has formulated his self-discrepancy theory that fruitfully conjoined personality, social and cognitive psychologies to explain the sources of human vulnerability and differences in the quality of affect. This work evolved into a much broader formulation, regulatory focus theory that offered creative reinterpretations of numerous major conceptions in several domains of psychology including expectancy-value notions of motivation, prospect theory and fundamental notions of the pleasure principle and notions of psychological hedonism more generally.

The cumulative work of Tory Higgins is unprecedented in terms of its breadth of scope, the boldness of its ideas, the creativity of its insights and the cleverness and rigor of the experimental designs in terms of which his theoretical notions have been put to the test. He has been a true intellectual leader in the field of social and personality psychology whose research has stimulated tremendous excitement, whose ideas controverted entrenched notions and whose insights have set the research agenda for the field as a whole. It is highly unusual for a singular investigator to make profound contributions to several disparate fields of inquiry touching on major aspects of the science of psychology in domains of cognition, motivation, affect, development and personality. His receipt of the William James award is in recognition of these extremely distinguished attainments.