Turning 76 years old in a week, and still loving what I do, I find myself inspired by two recent emails. One, from social psychologist Thomas Pettigrew, age 87, responded to my welcoming his latest work by attaching fourteen of his recent publications. The second, from Nathan DeWall, pointed me to an interesting new article co-authored by developmental psychologist, Walter Mischel, age 88 (who, sadly, died just hours before this essay was posted).
That got me thinking about other long-lived people who have found their enduring calling in psychological science. My late friend, Charles Brewer, the long-time editor of Teaching of Psychology (who once told me he took two days a year off: Christmas and Easter), taught at Furman University until nearly 82, occupied his office until age 83, and was still authoring into his 80s.
But Charles’ longevity was exceeded by that of
- B.F. Skinner, whom I heard address the American Psychological Association convention in 1990 at age 86, just eight days before he died of leukemia.
- Carroll Izard, who co-authored three articles in 2017, the year of his death at age 93.
- Jerome Bruner, who, the year before he died in 2016 at age 100, authored an essay on “The Uneasy Relation of Culture and Mind.”
And in earlier times, my historian-of-psychology friend Ludy Benjamin tells me, Wilhelm Wundt taught until 85 and supervised his last doctoral student at 87, and Robert Woodworth, lectured at Columbia until 89 and published his last work at 90.*
So, I then wondered, who of today’s living psychologists, in addition to Pettigrew and Mischel, are still publishing at age 85 and beyond? Daniel Kahneman and Paul Ekman almost qualify, but at 84 are youngsters compared to those below. Here’s my preliminary short list—other nominees welcome!—with their most recent PsycINFO publication. (Given the era in which members of their age received PhDs, most are—no surprise—men.)
- Philip Zimbardo: Age 85 (born March 23, 1933)
Unger, A., Lyu, H., & Zimbardo, P. G. (2018). How compulsive buying is influenced by perspective—Cross-cultural evidence from Germany, Ukraine, and China. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 16, 522–544.
- Gordon Bower: Age 85 (born December 30, 1932)
Bower, G. H. (2016). Emotionally colored cognition. In R. J. Sternberg, S. T. Fiske, & F. J. Foss (Eds.), Scientists making a difference: One hundred eminent behavioral and brain scientists talk about their most important contributions. Chapter xxvii, pp. 123–127. NY: Cambridge University Press.
- James McGaugh: Age 86 (born December 17, 1931)
McGaugh, J. L. (2018). Emotional arousal regulation of memory consolidation. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 19, 55–60.
- Lila Gleitman: Age 88 (born December 10, 1931)
Gleitman, L. R., & Trueswell, J. C. (2018). Easy words: Reference resolution in a malevolent referent world. Topics in Cognitive Science.
- Roger Shepard: Age 89 (born January 30, 1929)
Shepard, R. N. (2016). Just turn it over in your mind. In R. J. Sternberg, S. T. Fiske, & F. J. Foss (Eds.), Scientists making a difference: One hundred eminent behavioral and brain scientists talk about their most important contributions. Chapter xxvii, pp. 99–103. New York: Cambridge University Press.
- Jerome Kagan: Age 89 (born February 25, 1929)
Kagan, J. (2018, May). Three unresolved issues on human morality. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 13, 346–358.
- Albert Bandura: Age 92 (born December 4, 1925)
Bandura, A. (2016). Moral disengagement: How people do harm and live with themselves. New York: Worth Publishers.
- Aaron Beck: Age 97 (born July 18, 1921)
Kochanski, K. M., Lee-Tauler, S. Y., Brown, G. K., Beck, A., Perera, K. U., et al. (2018, Aug.) Single versus multiple suicide attempts: A prospective examination of psychiatric factors and wish to die/wish to live index among military and civilian psychiatrically admitted patients. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 206, 657–661.
- Eleanor Maccoby: Age 101 (born May 15, 1917)
Maccoby, E. (2007). Historical overview of socialization research and theory. In J. E. Grusec, & P. D. Hastings (Eds.), Handbook of socialization: Theory and research. New York: Guilford Press.
- And a drum roll for Brenda Milner: At age 100 (born July 15, 1918), she still, I’m told, comes in a couple times a week to the Montreal Neurological Institute, which last week celebrated her centennial (with thanks to Melvin Goodale for the photo below).
Milner, B., & Klein, D. (2016, March). Loss of recent memory after bilateral hippocampal lesions: Memory and memories—looking back and looking forward. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 87, 230.
P.S. Subsequent to this essay, I have learned of other long-lived and still-productive psychologists, including Robert Rosenthal (retiring next Spring at 86), Allen Baddeley (who has a new book, Working Memories, at age 84), Jean Mandler (who has a new article out at age 89), and Eleanor Maccoby (who died recently at 101, with a 2015 chapter). The reported oldest living psychologist is Olivia Hooker, whose 103rd birthday was celebrated during APA's Black History Month earlier this year. On her 100th birthday, Pres Obama saluted her and dedicated a new Coast Guard Building in her name. But surely I've missed others?