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Richard Nisbett (born 1941) is Theodore M. Newcomb Distinguished Professor of social psychology and co-director of the Culture and Cognition program at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Nisbett's research interests are in social cognition, culture, social class, and aging. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University, where his advisor was Stanley Schachter, whose other students at that time included Lee Ross and Judith Rodin.
Perhaps his most influential publication is "Telling more than we can know: Verbal reports on mental processes" (with T. D. Wilson, 1977, Psychological Review, 84, 231–259), one of the most often cited psychology articles published in the seventies. This article was the first comprehensive, empirically based argument that a variety of mental processes responsible for preferences, choices, and emotions are inaccessible to conscious awareness. Nisbett and Wilson contended that introspective reports can provide only an account of "what people think about how they think," but not "how they really think." Some cognitive psychologists disputed this claim, with Ericsson and Simon (1980) offering an alternative perspective.
Nisbett's book The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently... And Why (Free Press; 2003) contends that "human cognition is not everywhere the same," that Asians and Westerners "have maintained very different systems of thought for thousands of years," and that these differences are scientifically measurable. Nisbett's most recent book, Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count, argues that environmental factors dominate genetic factors in determining intelligence.
With Edward E. Jones, he named the Actor–observer bias, the phenomenon where people acting and people observing use different explanations why a behavior occurs.
- Donald T. Campbell Award for Distinguished Research in Social Psychology, awarded by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, 1982.
- Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, American Psychological Association, 1991.
- Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1992.
- Distinguished Senior Scientist Award, Society for Experimental Social Psychology, 1995
- Wei Lun Visiting Professor of Psychology, Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1995.
- William James Fellow Award for Distinguished Scientific Achievements, American Psychological Society, 1996.
- Elected to the National Academy of Sciences, 2002
- Oswald-Külpe-Award of the University of Würzburg, Germany, 2007
- Deutsche Nationalbibliothek "Nisbett, Richard E."
- Nisbett, R. and T. Wilson (1977). "Telling More than we can Know: Verbal reports on mental processes." Psychological Review 84(3): 231-259.
- Ericsson, K. and H. Simon (1980). "Verbal Reports as Data." Psychological Review 87(3): 215-251.
- Brief Biography for Richard E. Nisbett, University of Michigan faculty page
- Culture of Honor: The Psychology of Violence in the South (Westview Press, 1996)
- The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently... And Why (Free Press, 2003)
- Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count (Norton, 2009)
- Nisbett, R.E. and Ross, L. (1980) Human inference: Strategies and Shortcomings of Social Judgement, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
- Nisbett, R.E. (1972) Hunger, obesity and the ventromedial hypothalamus, Psychological Review 79:
- Nisbett, R.E., Caputo, C., Legant, P. and Marcek, J. (1973) Behaviour as seen by the actor and as seen by the observer, Journal of Personality and. Social Psychology 27: 157-64.
- Nisbett, R.E. and Wilson, T.D. (1977) Telling more than we can know: verbal reports on mental processes, Psychological Review 84: 231-59.