It was recently announced that Dr Gordon Bower, Albert Ray Lang Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, will receive the U.S. National Medal of Science “for his unparalleled contributions to cognitive and mathematical psychology, for his lucid analyses of remembering and reasoning and for his important service to psychology and to American science.”
So rare is it for psychologists to win this award that the honor was highlighted last week — in the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological, and Cognitive Sciences newsletter — as a celebratory moment for the entire discipline.
This got us thinking: How often are psychological contributions recognized through the awarding of a National Medal of Science?
Neal E. Miller (1909-2002), of Yale University, for “sustained and imaginative research on principles of learning and motivation and illuminating behavioral analysis of the effects of direct electrical stimulation of the brain.”
Herbert A. Simon (1916-2001), of Carnegie Mellon University, for “fundamental contributions to our understanding of human problem-solving behavior and decision-making, particularly in organizations.”
Anne Anastasi (1908-2001), of Fordham University, for “her work in the development of the discipline of differential psychology as a behavioral science, which illuminates the way traits are influenced by heredity and environment and the methods by which traits and human characteristics are measured.”
Roger W. Sperry (1913-1994), of the California Institute of Technology, for “his work on neurospecificity which showed how the intricate brain networks for behavior are effected through a system of chemical coding of individual cells, which has made fundamental contributions to the understanding of human nature.”
George A. Miller (1920-), of Princeton University, for “his innovative leadership in the scientific study of language and cognition, and for his commitment to improved education for literacy.”
Eleanor J. Gibson (1910-2002), of Cornell University, for “her conceptual insights in developing a theory of perceptual learning; and for achieving a deeper understanding of perceptual development in children and basic processes in reading.”
Roger N. Shepard (1929-), of Stanford University, for “his theoretical and experimental work elucidating the human mind’s perception of the physical world and why the human mind has evolved to represent objects as it does; and for giving purpose to the field of cognitive science and demonstrating the value of bringing the insights of many scientific disciplines to bear in scientific problem solving.”
William K. Estes (1919-), of Harvard University, for “his fundamental theories of learning, memory, and decision. His pioneering development and testing of mathematical models of psychological processes have set the standard for theoretical progress in behavioral and cognitive science.”
R. Duncan Luce (1925-), of the University of California at Irvine, for “his half century of advances in economics, psychology, and sociology based on mathematical modeling of behavior.”
4 thoughts on “U.S. National Medals of Science in Psychology”
Harry Harlow (1967) and B. F. Skinner (1968) both won the National Medal of Science in Biological Sciences
Harry F. Harlow (1905-1981), of the University of Wisconsin, for “original and ingenious contributions to comparative and experimental psychology, particularly in the controlled study of learning and motivations, the determinants of animal behavior, and development of affectional behavior.”
B. Frederick Skinner (1904-1990), of Harvard University, for “basic and imaginative contributions to the study of behavior which have had profound influence upon all of psychology and many related areas.”
The topic of the Medal of Science jogged my memory for how psychologists came to be eligible for this award because they were initially excluded. I recalled that Robert Lowman, when he was Science Officer for the American Psychological Association, played a large role in getting the law rewritten to include psychologists. I wrote to Bob, now at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, about his recall of those events. What follows is his reply.
One more comment from Bob Lowman that I should have added:
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