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Phoebe C. Ellsworth Named 2020 Legacy Honoree

Phoebe C. Ellsworth is the Frank Murphy Distinguished University Professor of Psychology and Law (Emerita) at the University of Michigan. She received her B. A. from Radcliffe and her PhD from Stanford, and taught at Yale and Stanford before joining the faculty at Michigan.

Professor Ellsworth is known for her research on two different topics. First, she studies the relation between cognition and emotion, and is an originator of the appraisal theory of emotions. According to appraisal theory, emotions correspond to combinations of the organism’s appraisals of its environment along dimensions significant for its well-being: novelty, valence, certainty, goal conduciveness, agency, and controllability. Second, she has been an important contributor to the field of psychology and law, and has studied jury decision making, changing attitudes towards the death penalty, and the use of social science research in legal decision making.

She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has received awards both for her contributions as a scientist (SPSP Career Contribution Award, APS James McKeen Cattell Award, SESP Distinguished Scientist Award, Cornell University Lifetime Achievement Award in Law, Psychology, and Human Development) and for her contributions as a graduate student mentor (APA Fowler Award, SPSP Nalini Ambady Award, APS Mentor Award).

The theme of Legacy program is to trace the impact of the senior scholar’s seminal contribution (or body of work) to contemporary work through a series of events as follows:

1. Legacy Symposium

This will be a symposium that pairs the honored figure with two active researchers whose work builds upon the legacy’s work. The luminary will have the opportunity to address the audience in whatever format they would like for half of the symposium’s allotted time. The rest of the symposium time would be devoted to presentations by the two contemporary researchers who would present more traditional research talks that highlight how their work can be traced back to the honored guest’s seminal contribution(s).

2. Legacy Lunch

Directly following the symposium, the Legacy will host a lunch for his or her academic legacies (e.g., students and students’ students, etc.), major contributors to the research area as appropriate, and other guests as selected by the honoree.

3. Legacy Posters

Posters accepted for the SPSP convention that can trace back to the Legacy (through a self-nomination process) will have the option to pick up a Legacy Badge onsite at the convention. Displaying this badge on their poster will signify all the work the legacy continues to touch. 


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