APS Fellow and former Board Member Lewis Lipsitt, Professor Emeritus at Brown University, received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Athens, Greece, this November for his work in the psychology of infant behavior and development. Lipsitt told the Observer that the award recognized, “the work of my colleagues and myself on learning and memory processes of infants, language development, and risk factors in early infancy.” He said he accepted the award in honor of the “century-long investment by Brown University in developmental studies” and as a tribute to his accomplished predecessors who paved the way for the advancement of child development research. In July, Lipsitt also was awarded a citation from the International Society for Infant Studies and the Japanese Baby Society in Kyoto, Japan, in recognition of his studies of early experience and childhood behavior and contributions to providing a behavioral explanation of crib death.
After receiving his MS from the University of Chicago in 1952, Lipsitt served in the Air Force as a clinical psychologist. During that time he decided that, rather than practicing clinical psychology, he would explore “the origins of behavioral and mental problems through research.” Meanwhile, a friend convinced him to enroll in the program for experimental child psychology at the University of Iowa. Lipsitt received his PhD there in 1957 and considers his decision to attend the University of Iowa as one of the “happiest conditions” of his life, along with his marriage to Edna Duchin. They will celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary this year.
Although Lipsitt is officially retired after 50 years at Brown, he is still “as busy as ever” assessing data from 4,000 participants, now in their 40s, whom he has been tracking since they were infants in 1958. The information, obtained as a part of the National Collaborative Perinatal Project, is providing Lipsitt, and others, with important longitudinal data that highlight the role of perinatal factors in the course of development. Lipsitt is amazed by the value of this information that he says “could not have been envisioned at the time the study was begun.” With the help of sophisticated statistical techniques, Lipsitt believes that the psychology of infant behavior and development will continue to receive increasing recognition for its methodological rigor and key findings.