I was flaked out on the couch Saturday when a bunch of mail dropped through the slot. In the pile was a large envelope from the Association for Psychological Science, a group I’ve belonged to for many years. Its 20,000 members are dedicated to advancing scientifically oriented psychology—in contrast to the heavy emphasis on clinical practice found in other organizations—and I’ve been pleased to witness its growth as an influential society.Still, it seemed odd to get something this big from them in the mail. Inside was a certificate and a letter telling me the board of directors had voted to make me an APS Fellow—an honor given to “members who have made sustained outstanding contributions to the science of psychology in the areas of research, teaching, service, and/or application.”
I was stunned and overwhelmed and surprised—this was not something I’d lobbied for or even thought about.
It’s very hard to describe what such recognition feels like. You enter a field because you love it, because you want to get to the truth of things. You get thrills from experiments that work, from findings that surprise people or that answer long-standing questions. Along the way there’s plenty of grind: endless analysis of data, drafting of papers, reviewing of articles for journals. But that’s all worth it because it’s part of something larger than you—the advancement of science. You care about the standards of the field and you know that your colleagues do too, even as you sometimes take issue with them.
The science of psychology has been my life. To be recognized by my peers for the work I’ve done means more to me than I can express.