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Psychologist Honored with the 2012 Distinguished Career Award

June 15, 2012 | 0 Comments
harry reis

University of Rochester psychologist Harry Reis, a pioneer in the study of close relationships who has helped advance the field for four decades, has been selected for the 2012 Distinguished Career Award from the International Association for Relationship Research.

The award recognizes a full career of eminent contributions to relationship science and it is the association’s most significant honor. Reis will be presented the award at the IARR annual meeting in Chicago in July.

“The breadth of Harry’s contributions to our field is, in my judgment, just stunning,” wrote Margaret Clark, professor of psychology at Yale University in support of his selection. “I can think of no one else in our field who has contributed in as many distinct ways, in as much depth, and with such continuity as Harry Reis.

“His contributions started in 1975 when he finished graduate school at NYU and he has been going strong for 37 years. If you look at his vita, you’ll see that his contributions in recent years are actually speeding up, not slowing down … This guy is amazing,” she wrote.

Reis, who joined the University of Rochester in 1974, is credited with helping to launch the field of relationship science, encouraging many of its earliest researchers, and continuing to mentor and welcome new recruits. “Those of us long in the field know that early on Harry made sure we all had a support system to encourage us in pursuing work in relationship science,” noted Clark.

He has advanced novel and compelling theories, including Intimacy Theory, a leading psychological model of relationships. Intimacy Theory identifies several key elements important for the development of close relationships, especially the experience of perceived responsiveness to one’s inner self. The theory has been incorporated into many other research programs, such as work on emotion, social support, and capitalization, the process of sharing positive news with others.

A prolific researcher, Reis is the author or editor of seven books and more than 170 published studies, reviews, and other professional articles. He has published seminal empirical investigations of attraction, gender, social interaction, attachment, and well-being and is widely recognized for both integrating existing research and setting agendas for future research.

A leader in the development of new methods for investigating complex social phenomenon, Reis pioneered the use of daily experience records. In fact, many in the field still refer to this research method by the term Rochester Interaction Record, or RIR. From early on, he applied complex statistics and innovative tools to social psychology and continues to make such methods accessible to a broad range of researchers, wrote Shelly Gable, professor of psychology at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Reis is recognized by colleagues as a tireless guide in the development of the field’s international research organization. He served as president of the International Society for the Study of Personal Relationships from 2000 to 2002 and led the broader field of personality and social psychology as an executive officer of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology from 1994 to 2004, and as president in 2007. He chaired the American Psychological Association’s Board of Scientific Affairs in 2002.

As editor of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology from 1986 to 1990, Reis was critical to introducing the study of close relationships to the broader field of social psychology. His leadership, wrote Clark, “literally put us on that field’s map.” From 2005 to 2009, he also edited Current Directions in Psychological Science, a flagship journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

In the classroom, Reis engages students at all levels. His innovative course on relationship processes and emotion, first introduced in 2001, now attracts close to 150 undergraduates and has inspired similar courses at several universities around the world. He maintains an active research laboratory with many undergraduate assistants and in 2009 received the Goergen Award for Distinguished Achievement and Artistry in Undergraduate Teaching.

“Harry has mastered the balance between statistical theory and practical application … Few people who teach statistics courses are able to achieve this essential balance, and even fewer can teach it so effectively,” wrote Gable, who completed her doctorate with Reis in 2000.

“Harry is also a fantastic advisor and mentor,” Gable wrote. “Harry views graduate students as junior collaborators and not advisees. As such, he was (and still is) eager to hear my ideas and debate various theoretical points and empirical questions … If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then I should probably tell Harry that I model my own teaching and mentorship style after him.”

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