Since 1886, the National Academy of Sciences has honored outstanding achievement in the physical, biological, and social sciences through its awards program.


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Featured Award

Atkinson Prize in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences

The Atkinson 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 most recent Atkinson Prizes in 2016.

John Anderson, center

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 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.

Carol Dweck, center

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.

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