2005-2006 William James Fellow Award

Marcia K. Johnson

Yale University

Marcia K. Johnson’s contributions to experimental psychology have been deep, insightful, and groundbreaking. Johnson is intellectually, empirically, and theoretically broad-ranging and bold. She is a genuine scholar and intellectual, approaching new issues (and reconsidering old ones) with vigor, rigorous standards, and a wide-open mind, always generously acknowledging the work of others.

Johnson and colleagues developed two synergistic frameworks of human cognition that have been influential in many areas of psychology, and other fields as well. The Multiple Entry Modular Memory model provides a cognitive architecture for integrating subsystems of perceptual and reflective component processes. The Source Monitoring Framework characterizes the cognitive processes involved in determining the origins of mental experiences (e.g., differentiating imagined and perceived events); it has generated key empirical findings that must be accommodated in any comprehensive theory of constructive memory.

Johnson has published seminal empirical and conceptual papers on: comprehension; consciousness; emotion; social cognition; suggestibility, confabulation, and other forms of false memory; and the influence of childhood development, normal aging, pathology, and emotion on source/reality monitoring. She has extended her ideas about individuals’ source monitoring to social and cultural institutions such as court systems and the press (e.g., journalists’ role in society’s monitoring of events and history). The breadth of Johnson’s methods is extensive and includes behavioral, electrophysiological, and neuroimaging experiments, questionnaires, and surveys carried out across multiple populations.

Johnson’s empirical work is elegant and her writing superb, a combination that, together with theoretical creativity, explains the broad and sustained impact her work has had, and will continue to have, in psychology and beyond.