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Walter Mischel wins Grawemeyer Award

Scientist’s research on self-control has had broad impact

Walter MischelWalter Mischel of Columbia University is the 2011 winner of the Grawemeyer Award for Psychology.  He is being honored for his research on willpower, self-control, and delay of gratification in children and adults. 

In classic research, Mischel showed that preschoolers who could resist an immediate reward in favor of a larger, delayed award tended to have greater academic success, more positive relationships, and better mental health later in life. In related lines of work, Mischel has examined the structure of personality and interactions between cognition and emotion, using a variety of behavioral and biological measures.  As noted in the Grawemeyer announcement, his theoretical ideas and methods have been taken up by researchers in education, public health, and economics.

Among other honors, Mischel was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2004, was elected a fellow of the Society of Experimental Psychologists in 1999, and received the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association in 1982.  He served as editor of Psychological Review in 2000-2003.  (Mischel’s faculty website provides further background.)

The Grawemeyer Awards were established by H. Charles Grawemeyer at the University of Louisville in 1984.  Currently, five awards are given each year, in psychology, education, music composition, religion, and ideas for improving world order.  Each award includes a $100,000 prize.  More information about the awards and winners can be found on the Grawemeyer website.