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Friedman Wins Top Psychology Award


UCR Psychology Professor Wins Award

The Association for Psychological Science honors Howard Friedman for a lifetime of research that has shaped health psychology.

(September 16, 2007)

Howard FriedmanEnlarge

Howard Friedman

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Howard Friedman, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside, has won the prestigious James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award from the Association for Psychological Science.

The award, which will be presented at the annual convention in Chicago in May 2008, recognizes association members for a lifetime of outstanding contributions to the area of applied psychological research. Recipients’ research must address a critical problem in society at large.

Friedman said he is greatly honored that his efforts to develop fresh approaches that combine psychology with traditional biomedical views into the new field of health psychology have met with such success. “The cross-fertilization of ideas from psychology with biology is leading unexpectedly to new and better ways to think about and promote health,” Friedman said.

The longtime UCR professor’s research focuses on health promotion, disease prevention, and personality and disease across the lifespan. As one example, he studies the emotional patterns that affect the development or progression of heart disease. Current research includes a major longitudinal study of personality, temperament, stress and longevity. His research has been supported by the National Institute on Aging.

His groundbreaking research and innovative ideas have been particularly influential in shaping contemporary health psychology, Leslie Martin, professor and chair of the Psychology Department at La Sierra University in Riverside, said in her nomination letter. Martin received her Ph.D. from UC Riverside in 1996.

“Friedman’s quantitative reviews and identification of the ‘disease-prone personality’ changed basic thinking and paradigms in this age-old field,” she wrote. “His detailed lifespan longitudinal studies of psychosocial factors and health have uncovered startling and dynamic findings, such as that childhood personality, particularly conscientiousness, is predictive of lifelong mortality risk.”

The researcher’s work on individual differences, emotional contagion and the fundamental importance of nonverbal skills is widely applied in fields such as medical education, viral marketing, health promotion and leadership training, Martin said.

“Medical investigators often think they are asking the question, ‘Why do people become ill?’ when they are really studying who becomes ill,” Friedman said. “Variability in vulnerability and recuperation is at least as important as the general causes of disease, but yet is critically under-appreciated.”

The Association for Psychological Science is a nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of psychological science. It has about 18,000 members and includes psychological scientists and academics, clinicians, researchers, teachers and administrators.

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