International Society of Political Psychology

Award Winners

Below are the most recent awardees of the various ISPP Awards. For more information on the awards, nomination processes, and past winners, please visit the respective pages.

Harold Lasswell Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions
George Marcus, Williams College

Prof Marcus has made foundational contributions in multiple areas of political psychology over a period of five decades, beginning with his work on belief systems in the 1960s and continuing with his work on political tolerance, and most recently, his longstanding program on the influence of emotion on political thought and behavior. It is not exaggeration to say that Prof Marcus’ work has helped to bring the disciplines of political science and social psychology together to forge the field we now know as political psychology. Undoubtedly, his most important contribution to the field has been his work on the role of emotion in political judgment. George has also served as ISPP president, executive director and councillor. The selection committee of Kevin Durrheim, Melinda Jackson and Craig McGarty were unanimous in selecting Prof Marcus as 2019 recipient of the Lasswell award.

Nevitt Sanford Award for Professional Contributions to Political Psychology
Linda Tropp, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Dr. Tropp is very well known for her influential work on intergroup contact. She has studied how legacies of inequality and conflict shape group members’ views of each other and the society in which they live, as well as their motivations for social change. Dr. Tropp has lived up to the goals of Nevitt Sanford, taking seriously the obligation to put her knowledge to work, to the end of solving social problems. She has worked in many different parts of the world and in partnership with government and non-governmental organizations to develop and implement evidence-based interventions aimed at reducing intergroup tension and increasing intergroup cooperation. Our field needs people like Dr. Tropp – scholars who are driven by a genuine passion for social change, and an unswerving commitment to making our world better through the rigorous communication and application of psychological research. She was the unanimous choice of the selection committee.

Jeanne Knutson Award for Long-Standing Service to ISPP
Felicia Pratto, University of Connecticut

Dr. Pratto has served a number of terms on the Governing Council of the society; she has served as Vice President; and she served as treasurer for 5 years ending 2018. During her tenure she tried to broaden representation on the governing council in terms of age, gender and geographic region. She spent years working on ISPP leadership and operating plans to make the organization more inclusive, efficient and sustainable. Dr. Pratto has also supported the community of political psychologists by teaching on the summer academy, participating in small group meetings to promote political psychology in Africa and Eastern Europe and, most recently, supported Turkish colleagues under trail. The committee was delighted to be able to present Felicia with the Knutson award for 2019.

David O. Sears Book Award
Lauren Davenport for Politics beyond Black and White: Biracial Identity and Attitudes in America

This important book “Politics beyond Black and White: Biracial Identity and Attitudes in America” fills an important gap in the identity literature. Dr. Davenport systematically examines what it means to identify as multi-racial and the political consequences of holding such an identity. The multi-racial population is growing exponentially in the US. But, we know little how this increase in diversity will impact the political landscape. Dr. Davenport’s book provides us insightful answers to these important questions. Her book demonstrates that multi-racial identifiers differ from mono-racial identifiers in terms of their political preferences. For example, she finds that multi-racial identifiers are less progressive than mono-racial minority identifiers when it comes to support for explicit and implicit racial policies. However, multi-racial identifiers are more progressive than mono-racial minority identifiers in support of social policies, such as gay marriage and women rights. Her results indicate that as multi-racial identity grows the public’s view will become more progressive in some issue domains but not others. Dr. Davenport not only examines the political consequences of the growing multi-racial population, but also investigates what causes people to identify as multi-racial. Again, the evidence is consistent and strong – gender (e.g. women) and income (e.g. family income) are important factors explaining why biracial people identify as multi-racial. All in all, the book amasses an impressive amount of evidence, using interviews and a unique data set of college freshman, to support its claim. It will be the go to book in understanding how American politics changes with a growing multi-racial population.

Alexander George Book Award
Suzanne Mettler for The Government-Citizen Disconnect

In this fantastic book “The Government-Citizen Disconnect” Dr. Mettler sheds light into a particularly intriguing paradox in Americans’ relationship with government: Today polls indicate that evaluations of government have plummeted to all-time lows. "Big government” is seen by a majority of Americans as the biggest threat to the country. At the same time, more people than ever before rely on government services. Drawing on rich survey data and open-ended qualitative interviews, Dr. Mettler addresses the question why do direct experiences with government not translate into positive views about government as policy feedback theory would predict? Is it because these direct experiences are negative? The answer is no - which makes the research puzzle even more intriguing. Why do direct personal positive experiences not translate in more positive views of government? Is it because the stigmatizing nature of some benefits? Again, the answer is no. Respondents who have used accumulated means tested stigmatizing benefits have more favorable views of government. Yet their voices are heard less in American politics. The political realm is dominated by those who are least aware or appreciative of the difference government has made for them personally. The small policy feedback effects documented are overpowered by identity and partisan affiliation, which explains the observed paradoxical relationship Americans have with their government today. In sum this extremely rich and compelling book reveals and explains Americans’ disdain for the institution on which they have increasingly become to depend. As such it offers particular insights in today’s political tensions and should be a read by anyone interested in the health of democracy, public opinion, and American politics.

Erik Erikson Award for Early Career Achievement

The Erik Erikson Early Career Award recognizes and celebrates exceptional achievement in political psychology. The award is given to an individual who is a member of ISPP and who is within a decade of receiving the PhD. This year’s committee was comprised of Jennifer Jerit from Stony Brook University, Michael Bang Peterson from Aarhus University, and Cindy Kam from Vanderbilt University as Chair. The committee received dozens of extremely high-quality nominations and engaged deeply with the work of this diverse group of talented and created young scholars. After careful deliberation, the committee is delighted to announce two awardees for this year: Pazit Ben-Nun Bloom from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Ryan Enos from Harvard University.

Pazit Ben-Nun Bloom received her PhD from Stony Brook in 2010 and is currently Associate Professor and Gillon Chair in Political Science at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. A prolific scholar, Ben-Nun Bloom has published more than 30 articles and book chapters and secured several high-profile grants, including the EU Marie Curie grant and the multi-million dollar European Research Council Starting grant. Ben-Nun Bloom studies the role of religion and morality on political behavior. Her work on religiosity has been praised for its nuanced interpretation of how the experience of religion can have positive and negative implications for democracy. Similarly, her work on morality—initially articulated in her award-winning dissertation—develops the idea that the moral reasoning is based in a person’s visceral emotional reactions to political objects, rather than their basic beliefs and principles. In both areas, Ben-Nun Bloom has made significant theoretical contributions, while also studying topics of obvious real world importance. The committee is impressed by Ben-Nun Bloom’s maturity, independence, and creativity and the depth and breadth of research methods she employs. The committee applauds Ben-Nun Bloom’s leadership as an institution builder. She secured a large grant that she used to build an experimental lab at Hebrew University, where she also chairs a political psychology program – the first of its kind in Israeli political science department. In short, Ben-Nun Bloom is a prolific researcher, institution-builder, and trailblazer, and the award committee looks forward to seeing what future decades hold for this promising young scholar.

Ryan Enos received his PhD from UCLA in 2010 and is currently a tenured Professor in the Government Department at Harvard University. A productive researcher, Enos has published a book in one of the top presses in the discipline (The Space Between Us, Cambridge University Press) and has had published over a dozen peer-reviewed articles, several appearing in the discipline’s most high-profile outlets. Enos’ most significant work focuses on the role of social geography in intergroup bias. In his book and related articles, Enos explores the ways in which the size, salience, and segregation of groups affects perceptions of groups and subsequent manifestations of intergroup bias. His work features a breathtaking range of creative research designs across a range of contexts and methodologies, including laboratory-based experiments, the famous field experiment on the Boston T, and creative merging of observational/ administrative data to identify the effect of the removal of (African-American) public housing stock on white Chicagoan turnout and vote choice. His more recent work on the effects of the LA riots similarly assembles a creative research design to examine an important and longstanding question in intergroup relations. The committee praises Enos for assembling a high-quality research portfolio that makes significant contributions to our understanding of the political psychology of intergroup relations. His work is among the most empirically creative of his generation, pushing political psychologists to engage creatively with the world around them to develop new and exciting ways of studying political psychology.

Best Dissertation Award

Miriam Lindner

The 2019 Best Dissertation Award was presented to Miriam Lindner (Aarhus University) for "Of Friends and Foes: How Human Coalitional Psychology Shapes Public Reactions to Terrorism."

Dr. Miriam Lindner received her PhD from the Department of Political Science at Aarhus University (Denmark) and is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Evolutionary Psychology Laboratory at Harvard University (USA). In a strong field of applications from across the globe, the committee unanimously chose Dr. Lindner's dissertation as the most impactful to the current field of Political Psychology. Dr. Lindner's dissertation reflects an innovative and rigorous endeavor that theoretically grounds questions about public reactions to terrorism in evolutionary coalitional psychology. Her timely and impressive data, as well as sound methods in survey experiments, allowed her to examine reactions to terrorism across a variety of cultures including the United States, Denmark, and Egypt. Her dissertation not only makes important theoretical contributions to our understanding of how individuals weave terrorism into their cognitive schemas of between- and within-group coalitions, but provide normative implications on the roles political elites have in amplifying or dampening these reactions.

Femke Bakker (Hon. Mention)

Given the impressive field of applicants, we also awarded honorable mentions. The 2019 Honorable Mention for the ISPP Best Dissertation Award goes to Femke Bakker (Leiden University) for her project: "Hawks and Doves: Democratic Peace Theory Revisited."

Dr. Bakker received her PhD from Leiden University (Netherlands) and is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Political Science, Leiden University. Her dissertation takes on an important research question, asking if the basic assumptions of democratic peace theory are correct. She instead proposes that hawkishness preferences and behaviors best explain interstate conflict. At its core, this dissertation speaks directly to the issue of why international conflict occurs. Dr. Bakker's research is truly multi-methodological, with a large-N analysis of the World Values Survey, two experimental designs, and a qualitative case study. In this way, she appropriately applies political psychology to the study of international relations. Further, her samples from the United States, Russia, and China, coupled with her mixed-methods approach, delivers a robust argument for hawkishness theory over the extant assumptions of democratic peace.

Jasper van Assche (Hon. Mention)

The 2019 Honorable Mention for the ISPP Best Dissertation Award goes to Jasper Van Assche (Ghent University) for his project: "Ethnic Diversity, Ideological Climates, and Intergroup Relations: A Person X Context Approach."

Jasper Van Assche is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology at Ghent University (Belgium), and a lecturer at the Center for Social and Cultural Psychology at the University of Leuven (Belgium). He completed his doctoral dissertation in May 2018 at Ghent University. His dissertation deals with the role of diversity in society, political attitudes, intergroup relations, and prejudice. His work smartly folds individual dispositions into environmental experiences, using advanced methodological approaches to revisit interpersonal contact theory. More specifically, Dr. Van Assche systematically investigates how the societal context in which individuals live shapes how their personal social-ideological views, their values, norms and beliefs, are associated with their intergroup and related attitudes. Such an approach not only examines psychological and sociological levels of analysis simultaneously, it also assesses how both work together (i.e., interact) in influencing intergroup relations across various domains of life. In sum, his studies show that adopting a person × context interaction approach yields interesting and more profound insights in individuals’ attitudes towards ethnicity-, gender, and age-based out-groups, their specific expressions of prejudice, and even their political attitudes, political party support, neighborhood attitudes and moving intentions.

Roberta Sigel Award 1 (for best paper by an Early Career Scholar)

The Roberta Sigel Award for a paper authored by early career scholars only was awarded to Carly N. Wayne (Washington University St. Louis) for her paper “Risk or Retribution: How Citizens Respond to Terrorism.” This paper uses a series of survey experiments to examine the public’s political and emotional reactions to terrorism. Contrary to common assumptions, the studies suggest that the dominant emotional reaction to terrorism is anger, rather than fear. Feelings of anger and moral outrage in turn drive risk acceptant attitudes and support for retributive violence, rather than risk averse attitudes and conciliatory policies. These findings provide insight into why terrorists rarely win concessions and how to undermine the efficacy of terrorism as a tool.

Roberta Sigel Award 2 (for best paper with an Early Career Scholar as lead author)

The Roberta Sigel Award for a paper with an early career scholar as first author was conferred to Arnold Ho (University of Michigan) for the paper “You’re One of Us”: Black Americans’ Use of Hypodescent and Its Association With Egalitarianism,” (co-authored with Nour S. Kteily and Jacqueline M. Chen). Their paper examines white and black Americans' attitudes towards hypodescent – the perception that individuals of mixed black/white race should be categorized as black. Using a nationally-representative sample of white and black respondents, the paper shows that both whites and African Americans categorize black-white multiracials as “black.” Importantly, the paper demonstrates that this tendency among African Americans is driven by feelings of egalitarianism, and the belief that black-white multiracials are likely to face racial discrimination, whereas antiegalitarian attitudes lead whites to support hypodescent.

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