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Robert Bolesław Zajonc (pronounced Zy-unce - like Science with a Z) (Nov. 23, 1923 – December 3, 2008) was a Polish-born American social psychologist who was known for his decades of work on a wide range of social and cognitive processes.
Zajonc received his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Michigan in 1955. He was on the faculty at Stanford University. His wife, renowned cultural psychologist Hazel Markus, is also a professor there. Robert died of cancer in 2008.
Mere Exposure EffectEdit
One important contribution was the demonstration of the mere exposure effect, the phenomenon that repeated exposure to a stimulus brings about an attitude change in relation to the stimulus. His official faculty description notes that he focused on processes involved in social behavior, with an emphasis on the relationship between affect, or emotion, and cognition. Zajonc was also well known for demonstrating how social facilitation (how the presence of others increases or decreases performance) works in humans and other animals, notably in cockroaches, which indicated that social facilitation is not entirely the result of higher cognitive processes.
Zajonc, along with Greg Markus, developed the Confluence Model (1975), which provided a mathematical model of the effect of birth order and family size on IQ scores. This theory suggests that children are born into intellectual environments that affect intelligence—first born children are born into adults-only families, all others are born into mixed adult/child families. As families increase in size, the overall IQ of the family drops; children from larger families do have slightly lower IQs. The last child in the family is denied the opportunity to tutor younger children, and there is a slight "extra" decrement for being the youngest child in a family. These effects are theoretically important, but the size of the effects is fairly small (amounting to a range of about 3 IQ points).
Preferences Need No InferencesEdit
In 1980, a speculative and widely-argued paper entitled "Feeling and Thinking: Preferences Need No Inferences," invited in honor of his receipt of the 1979 Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association, made the argument that affective and cognitive systems are largely independent, and that affect is more powerful and comes first. This paper precipitated a great deal of interest in affect in psychology, and was one of a number of influences that brought the study of emotion and affective processes back into the forefront of American and European psychology.
- Izard, C., Kagan, J., & Zajonc, R. (Eds.). (1984). Emotions, cognition, and behavior. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
- Zajonc, R. B. (2003). The selected works of R. B. Zajonc. New York: Wiley.
- Zajonc, R. B. (1980). Social psychology: An experimental approach. California: Brooks/Cole.
- Zajonc, R.B. (1965) Social facilitation, Science 149: 269-74.
- Herrera, N. C, Zajonc, R. B., Wieczorkowska, G., & Cichomski, B. (2003). Beliefs about birth rank and their reflection in reality. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 85(1), 142-150.
- McIntosh, D. N., Zajonc, R. B., Vig, P. S., & Emerick, S. W. (1997). Facial movement, breathing, temperature, and affect: Implications of the vascular theory of emotional efference. Cognition & Emotion, 11(2), 171-195.
- Monahan, J. L., Murphy, S. T., & Zajonc, R. B. (2000). Subliminal mere exposure: Specific, general, and diffuse effects. Psychological Science, 11(6), 462-466.
- Murphy, S. T, Monahan, J. L., & Zajonc, R. B. (1995). Additivity of nonconscious affect: Combined effects of priming and exposure. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 69(4), 589-602.
- Murphy, S. T., & Zajonc, R. B. (1993). Affect, cognition, and awareness: Affective priming with optimal and suboptimal stimulus exposures. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 64(5), 723-739.
- Raven, B. H., Zajonc, R. B., & Kupper, D. A. (2003). Harold B. Gerard (1923-2003). American Psychologist, 58(10), 811.
- Winkielman, P., Zajonc, R. B, & Schwarz, N. (1997). Subliminal affective priming resists attributional interventions. Cognition & Emotion, 11(4), 433-465.
- Zajonc, R. B. (2001). Birth order debate resolved? [American Psychologist]], 56(6-7), 522-523.
- Zajonc, R. B. (2001). The family dynamics of intellectual development. American Psychologist, 56(6-7), 490-496.
- Zajonc, R. B. (1993). The confluence model: Differential or difference equation. European Journal of Social Psychology, 23(2), 211-215.
- Zajonc, R. B. (1989). Styles of explanation in social psychology. European Journal of Social Psychology, 19(5), 345-368.
- Zajonc, R. B., & Mullally, P. R. (1997). Birth order: Reconciling conflicting effects. American Psychologist, 52(7), 685-699.
- Zajonc, R.B. (1968) Attitudinal effects of mere exposure, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 9: 1-27.
- Zajonc, R.B. and Burnstein, E. (1965) The learning of balanced and unbalanced social structures, Journal of Personality 33: 153-63.
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