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Press Release

Jonathan Potts

For immediate release:
January 25, 2005

Acclaimed Carnegie Mellon Professor is Honored for a Lifetime of Scientific Contributions

PITTSBURGH—The American Psychological Society (APS) will honor Robyn Dawes, the Charles J. Queenan Jr. University Professor of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, with a Festschrift, a collection of essays about Dawes' work written by colleagues from across the nation.

This rare honor is being afforded Dawes in honor of a 40-year career during which he has made significant impacts in several areas of psychological science, including judgment and decision-making, cooperation and social dilemmas, and intuition and irrationality. The Festschrift will be based on presentations given during a day-long discussion related to Dawes research at the APS annual convention, May 26-29 in Los Angeles.

"Robyn Dawes is one of behavioral science's most distinguished researchers and has significantly advanced our understanding of how people think, learn and remember, particularly in the areas of judgment and decision making," said APS President Robert W. Levenson, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Dawes is perhaps best known for his research into human cooperation, in which he discovered that people cooperate with one another in situations where rational models predict that it is not in their best interest to do so. He also is a well-known chronicler of the failures of human judgment and a critic of clinical psychology.

"I was surprised at this honor. It's nice. I guess it means I'm superannuated," Dawes said

Dawes' books include "Everyday Irrationality: How Pseudoscientists, Lunatics, and the Rest of Us Systematically Fail To Think Rationally" and "House of Cards: Psychology and Psychotherapy Built on Myth." Dawes is a professor in the Department of Social and Decision Sciences (SDS), part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Carnegie Mellon.

"Robyn Dawes' contributions to his field and his influence at Carnegie Mellon have been so profound that they are impossible to quantify. He is as dedicated to his students as he is to his research, which is motivated by a genuine desire to improve the lot of his fellow human beings," said Carnegie Mellon Provost Mark Kamlet, a former head of the Department of Social and Decision Sciences.

Dawes has been a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon since 1985 and is one of the architects of the interdisciplinary Social and Decision Sciences Department. SDS offers one of the nation's few undergraduate programs in behavioral decision-making and houses Carnegie Mellon's graduate programs in decision science. Those programs recently were ranked among the three best in the nation, according to the Decision Analysis Society, which is part of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), the field's leading professional and scientific organization.

SDS faculty has produced groundbreaking research in fields as diverse as risk assessment, economics and environmental policy. Dawes' own research includes AIDS prevention policy, and he is a member of the National Research Council's Committee on AIDS Research.


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