Header Atkinson Prize in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences

Header Atkinson Prize in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences

The Atkinson Prize in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences (formerly the NAS Prize in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences) is presented to honor significant advances in the psychological and cognitive sciences with important implications for formal and systematic theory in these fields. Two prizes of $100,000 are presented biennially. The prize was established by Richard C. Atkinson in 2013. 

John R. Anderson, Richard King Mellon Professor of Psychology and Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, and Carol S. Dweck, Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, received the 2016 Atkinson Prizes in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences.

Anderson is best known for his efforts toward the development of a unified theory of cognition, called the Adaptive Control of Thought (ACT) cognitive model. The latest in the ACT series of models is ACT-R, a computational system that simulates human cognition using assumptions derived from psychological experiments. The ACT theory has served as the basis for a series of intelligent tutoring systems called “cognitive tutors” that provide students with interactive instruction in mathematics, giving customized feedback that guides users as they work through problems and learn. In 1998, a company was spun off from this research, and now hundreds of thousands of students benefit from these interactive systems.

Dweck has drawn from five areas of psychology — cognition, motivation, human development, personality, and social psychology — to show that, starting as children, people hold “mindsets” about intelligence. Some believe that intelligence is a fixed trait, like eye color. Others think that intelligence can be improved over time. Dweck showed that these mindsets, by shaping behavior and affecting learning over time, can have profound impacts on a person’s life. Dweck also showed that the praise given to a child can affect which mindset they hold and that parents and teachers can be educated to give praise to promote a healthier mindset. She has gone on to expand her concept of mindsets, showing that fixed and malleable mindsets exist in domains outside of intelligence, including prejudice, morality, conflict, and willpower.

Recipients:

John R. Anderson (2016)
For foundational contributions to systematic theory and optimality analysis in cognitive and psychological science and for developing effective, theory-based cognitive tutors for education.

Carol S. Dweck (2016)
For her groundbreaking work documenting that the implicit theories people hold about human abilities and traits have profound consequences for their perseverance, resilience, and achievement. 

Elizabeth S. Spelke (2014)
For her groundbreaking studies of infant perception, infant representations of number, and infant knowledge of the physical and social world, as well as studies of continuity and discontinuity in ontogeny.

James L. McClelland (2014)
For seminal contributions to the empirical investigation and theoretical characterization of human perception, learning, memory, language and other basic mental processes through detailed, precise connectionist neural-network modeling.

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