William James Book Award

The William James Award is intended to honor and publicize a recent book published within the last 5 years that best serves to further the goals of the society by providing an outstanding example of an effort to bring together diverse subfields of psychology and related disciplines. This work must provide a coherent framework that stands as a creative synthesis of theory and fact from disparate areas and demonstrates an essential underlying set of themes that serve to unify or integrate the field. Recipients of the William James Book Award are expected to deliver a major address for Div. 1 at the annual APA Convention, and also to provide a copy of the award presentation for inclusion in the newsletter of the society (The General Psychologist). The authors will each receive a certificate. A single cash prize of $1,500 will be awarded to help defray travel expenses for that convention.

Annual deadline: Feb. 15


There are no restrictions on nominees, and self-nominations as well as nominations by others are encouraged for these awards.

Application Criteria

Nominations materials should include:

a) three copies of the book (dated within the last 5 years post-2008 and available in print);
b) the vitae of the author(s); and
c) a one-page statement that explains the strengths of the submission as an integrative work and how it meets criteria established by the Society

In judging the merits of the work the following issues will be considered:

  1. The degree to which the book conforms to the guidelines above and serves to further the goals of the society. 

  2. The quality of the framework. It should be able to stand the test of rigorous logic on the one hand and psychological significance on the other. It should be rigorous: explicitly stated and empirically grounded. 

  3. The scope or comprehensiveness of the approach. The best submissions are those that deal with the most areas of psychological fact, theory and practice. 

  4. The attractiveness or elegance of the framework as an intellectual effort. It should be a fascinating approach to a difficult problem. 

  5. The literary quality of the work. It should be interestingly and well written and stand as a model of how psychology can be presented to a general audience. 

  6. The pragmatic quality of the work. Does it provide us as psychologists a means of accomplishing something worthwhile? Is there evidence for this? 

  7. The degree to which it is consistent and consonant with other areas of psychology as well as areas of science more broadly considered, particularly, closely related areas of social and biological science. 

  8. The degree to which it makes contact with and is consistent with philosophical and empirical issues that define psychology as a discipline. 

  9. The degree to which the book is consistent with the high quality of previous WJ book award winners and thus would make the society proud of the judgment.

  10. The degree to which the book has the potential for having a significant impact within or beyond psychology.

The history of the judging process has made clear that certain kinds of approaches do not generally satisfy the criteria sufficiently to be competitive. These approaches are discouraged and include textbooks, analytic reviews, biographies, illustrations of psychology's application to social issues and edited books. Entries in one of these categories should be accompanied by a statement that makes a sufficiently distinctive and compelling case for the innovative and integrative character of the work to overcome whatever initial bias may exist against the genre. Contributors of edited volumes should understand that the creativity and direction provided by editors is of prime importance and must be made obvious in the statement.

For information on submission of nomination letters and supporting materials, please contact Joan Chrisler, PhD. Books can be mailed to:

Joan C. Chrisler, PhD
Department of Psychology
Connecticut College
New London, CT 06320

Past Recipients


Born together – reared apart: The landmark Minnesota twin study by Nancy L. Segal, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


The Agile Mind by Wilma Koutstaal, New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Science as psychology: Sense-making and identity in science practice by Lisa Osbeck, Nancy Nersessian, Kareen Malone, & Wendy Newstetter, New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2010.


How pleasure works: The new science of why we like what we like by Paul Bloom. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010.


Fooling ourselves: Self-deception in politics,religion, and terrorism by Harry C. Triandis. Westport, CN: Praeger Publishers, 2009.


The sexual  paradox: Men, women, and the real gender gap by Susan Pinker (2008).  New York, NY: Scribners


The Lucifer Effect: Understanding how good people turn evil by Philip Zimbardo. New York, NY: Random House, 2007.

Recognition Award:
Mistakes were made (but not by me): Why we justify foolish beliefs, bad decisions, and hurtful acts by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson. Orlando, Fla.: Harcourt, 2007. 


The psychology of science and the origins of the scientific mind by Greogry J. Feist. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press, 2006.


The redemptive self: Stories Americans live by by Dan P. McAdams. New York, NY:  Oxford University Press, 2006. 

Honorable Mention
School violence in context: Culture, neighborhood, family, school, and gender by Rami Benbinashty & Ron Avi. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005


The cultural nature of human development by Barbara Rogoff. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2003.


The geography of thought by Richard Nisbett. New York, NY: Free Press, 2003.


The blank slate: The modern denial of human nature by Stephen Pinker. New York, NY: Viking Press, 2002.

The seven sins of memory: How the mind forgets and remembers by Daniel L. Schacter.  New York, NY: Mariner Books, 2002.


The new cognitive neurosciences (2nd  ed.) by Michael Gazzaniga. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1999.


The cultural origins of human cognition by Michael TomaselloCambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.


The origins of genius: Darwinian perspectives on creativity by Dean Keith Simonton.  New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1999

Jeopardy in the courtroom: A scientific analysis of children's testimony by Steven Ceci & Maggie Bruck. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 1995


How the mind works by Steven Pinker.  New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1997.

Believing in magic: The psychology of superstition by Stuart A. Vyse. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1997.


Practicing feminism: Reconstructing psychotherapy by Jill G. Morawski. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1994.


Searching for memory: The brain, the mind and the past by Daniel L. Schacter. New York, NY: Basic Books, 1996.


Will we be smart enough? by Earl Hunt. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation, 1995.

Memory in oral traditions by David C. Rubin. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1995.


Images of mind by Michael Posner and Marcus E. Raichle. NY: W. H. Freeman, 1997.


The language instinct by Steven Pinker.  New York, NY: William Morrow & Company, 1994.


The psychology of judgment and decision making by Scott Plous. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1993.


The science of words by George A. Miller. New York, NY: W. H. Freeman & Company, 1991.


Schizophrenia genesis by Irving Gottesman. New York, NY: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc., 1990.


Rational choice in an uncertain world by Robyn Dawes. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, 1990.


Notebooks of the mind by Vera John-Steiner.  New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1985.


The nature of the child by Jerome Kagan. New York, NY: Basic Books, 1984.


The mind's new science: A history of the cognitive revolution by Howard E. Gardner. New York, NY: Basic Books, 1985.


Mind and body by George Mandler. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1984.