To the Editor:
The APS tributes to Bob Abelson (Observer, December 2006) understandably came from former graduate students and colleagues. But in his many decades at Yale, Bob also influenced countless undergraduates. At the beginning of my sophomore year, I wandered into his undergraduate course in social psychology because it met at a good time for my schedule. Two weeks later, I changed my major from math to psychology.
Bob could explain everything in the world using his newly published book, Theories of Cognitive Consistency: A Sourcebook, which he smilingly referred to by its perverted acronym, pronounced “tuchas.” A lesson that I carry to this day in my teaching is that many of us receive our real intellectual grounding in college. Professor Abelson became my undergraduate advisor, and patiently every week met with a student who didn’t know an ANOVA from an anomia. Reverence for learning at all levels is a mark of a true scholar.
Howard S. Friedman
University of California, Riverside