A psychologist whose work helped create our understanding or implicit bias and a linguist who helped us computationally model language have won the 2022 Atkinson Prize in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences from the National Academy of Sciences.
Mahzarin Rustum Banaji, the Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics at Harvard University, and Dan Jurafsky, the Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor in Humanities and professor of linguistics in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University, will each receive $100,000. The Atkinson prize, previously known as the NAS 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. It is given every two years.
In honoring Banaji, the NAS cited her landmark collaborative research, which defined implicit social cognition, introduced the term “implicit bias,” and developed the Implicit Association Test. Her work on implicit, group-based attitudes and beliefs continues to pave the way toward a more rigorous and quantitative approach to understanding the human mind in social context.
In addition to her scientific accomplishments, Banaji has contributed to the future of the field through her mentorship, public education, and ongoing leadership on science boards, committees, and organizations.
Banaji’s contributions to society have been widely recognized in a number of notable fellowships, such as the Society for Experimental Psychologists, Society for Experimental Social Psychology, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and in 2016, the Association for Psychological Science’s (APS) William James Fellow Award for lifetime contributions to the basic science of psychology. (She was president of APS in 2010-11.)
Jurafsky’s interdisciplinary approach to fundamental research questions – forging links between the study of human language processing and machine language processing, the processing of spoken and written language, the cognitive and the social, and ranging from individual sounds to entire discourses – has pushed the boundaries of computational psycholinguistics, the NAS wrote.
His work in data-driven, probabilistic computations to understand human language processing has enabled new scientific discoveries throughout linguistics, cognitive psychology, and social psychology. that work has advanced the study of race and gender in computational modeling of language and its application to social justice.
As co-author of the widely used computational linguistics textbook, Speech and Language Processing, and through his creation of free online lectures and materials, Jurafsky continues to inspire and teach new generations of students.
The prize was made possible through a $3.5 million gift from NAS member Richard C. Atkinson, who had been the first social scientist to head the National Science Foundation. “Because of the dedication of many brilliant researchers, the psychological and cognitive sciences have seen incredible advances in the past decades,” Atkinson, president emeritus of the University of California and professor emeritus of cognitive science and psychology at the University of California, San Diego, said in 2013 when his endowment was announced. “This award is intended to recognize and support scientists in improving our understanding of how the mind works.”
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and provides policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.