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Walter Mischel

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Walter Mischel (1930- ) is an American academic and psychologist specializing in personality theory and social psychology. He currently serves as the Robert Johnston Niven Professor of Humane Letters in the Department of Psychology at Columbia University.

Early lifeEdit

Mischel was born in 1930 in Vienna, Austria, from which he fled with his family to the United States after the Nazi occupation in 1938. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York and later studied under George Kelly and Julian Rotter at Ohio State University, from which he received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1956.

Professional careerEdit

Mischel taught at the University of Colorado from 1956 to 1958, then at Harvard University from 1958 to 1962, and also at Stanford University from 1962 to 1983. Since 1983, Mischel has been in the Department of Psychology at Columbia University, where he is currently the Robert Johnston Niven Professor of Humane Letters.

Mischel was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2004 and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1991. In 2007, Mischel was elected president of the Association for Psychological Science. Mischel’s other honors include the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association, the Distinguished Scientist Award of the Society of Experimental Social Psychologists, the Distinguished Contributions to Personality Award of the Society of Social and Personality Psychologists, and the Distinguished Scientist Award of American Psychological Association's Division of Clinical Psychology. He is past editor of Psychological Review and past president of the American Psychological Association Division of Social and Personality Psychology and of the Association for Research in Personality.

Contributions to personality theoryEdit

In 1968, Mischel published the now classic monograph, Personality and Assessment, which created a paradigm crisis in personality psychology that changed the agenda of the field for decades. Mischel showed that study after study failed to support the fundamental traditional assumption of personality theory, that an individual’s behavior with regard to a trait (e.g. conscientiousness, sociability) is highly consistent across diverse situations. Instead, Mischel's analyses revealed that the individual’s behavior, when closely examined, was highly dependent upon situational cues, rather than expressed consistently across diverse situations that differed in meaning.

Mischel made the case that the field of personality psychology was searching for consistency in the wrong places. Instead of treating situations as the noise or “error of measurement” in personality psychology, Mischel's work proposed that by including the situation as it is perceived by the person and by analyzing behavior in its situational context, the consistencies that characterize the individual would be found. He argued that these individual differences would not be expressed in consistent cross-situational behavior, but instead, he suggested that consistency would be found in distinctive but stable patterns of if-then, situation-behavior relations that form contextualized, psychologically meaningful “personality signatures” (e.g., “she does A when X, but B when Y”).

These signatures of personality were in fact revealed in a large observational study of social behavior across multiple repeated situations over time (Mischel & Shoda, 1995). Contradicting the classic assumptions, the data showed that individuals who were similar in average levels of behavior, for example in their aggression, nevertheless differed predictably and dramatically in the types of situations in which they aggressed. As predicted by Mischel, they were characterized by highly psychologically informative if-then behavioral signatures. Collectively, this work has allowed a new way to conceptualize and assess both the stability and variability of behavior that is produced by the underlying personality system, and has opened a window into the dynamic processes within the system itself (Mischel, 2004).

In a second direction, beginning in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Mischel pioneered work illuminating the ability to delay gratification and to exert self-control in the face of strong situational pressures and emotionally “hot” temptations. His studies with preschoolers in the late 1960s, often referred to as "the marshmallow experiment", examined the processes and mental mechanisms that enable a young child to forego immediate gratification and to wait instead for a larger desired but delayed reward. Continuing research with these original participants has examined how preschool delay of gratification ability links to development over the life course, and may predict a variety of important outcomes (e.g., SAT scores, social and cognitive competence, educational attainment, and drug use), and can have significant protective effects against a variety of potential vulnerabilities. This work also opened a route to research on temporal discounting in decision-making, and most importantly into the mental mechanisms that enable cognitive and emotional self-control, thereby helping to demystify the concept of “willpower” (Mischel et al., 1989; Mischel & Ayduk, 2004).

PublicationsEdit

BooksEdit

PapersEdit

  • Mischel,W. Van,Lange,Paul,A,M. Bridges (2006)(Eds) Toward a Cumulative Psychological Science. Bridging social psychology: Benefits of transdisciplinary approaches, p. 437,446, Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers, Mahwah, NJ, US. ISBN 0805850945 (hardcover), ISBN 0805850953 (paperback)
  • Eigsti,Inge,Marie, Zayas,Vivian, Mischel,Walter, Shoda,Yuichi, Ayduk,Ozlem, Dadlani,Mamta,B, Davidson,Matthew,C, Aber,J,Lawrence, Casey,B,J. (2006). Predicting Cognitive Control From Preschool to Late Adolescence and Young Adulthood. Psychological Science, vol. 17, no. 6, p. 478,484 Publisher: Blackwell Publishing, United Kingdom. , eISSN 1467,9280, ISSN 0956,7976.
  • Shoda,Y, Mischel,W. (2006).Applying Meta-theory to Achieve Generalisability and Precision in Personality Science: Comment. Applied Psychology: An International Review, vol. 55, no. 3, p. 439,452,. Publisher: Blackwell Publishing, United Kingdom. eISSN 1464,0597, ISSN 0269,994X
  • Mischel,W, (2004).Toward an Integrative Science of the Person.Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2004. 55:1–22 doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.55.042902.130709 Full text
  • Mischel W, Morf CC. (2003). The self as a psycho-social dynamic processing system: a meta-perspective on a century of the self in psychology. In Handbook of Self and Identity, ed.M Leary, J Tangney, pp. 15–43. New

York: Guilford

  • MischelW, ShodaY, Mendoza-Denton R. (2002).Situation-behavior profiles as a locus of consistency

in personality. Curr. Dir. Psychol. Sci. 11:50–54

  • Sethi,A, Mischel,W, Aber,J,L, Shoda,Y, Rodriguez,M,L. (2000) The role of strategic attention deployment in development of self,regulation: predicting preschoolers' delay of gratification from mother,toddler interactions. Developmental psychology, vol. 36, no. 6, p. 767,77, ISSN 0012,1649
  • Ayduk,O, Mendoza,Denton,R, Mischel,W, Downey,G, Peake,P,K, Rodriguez,M. (2000). Regulating the interpersonal self: strategic self,regulation for coping with rejection sensitivity. Journal of personality and social psychology, , vol. 79, no. 5, p. 776,92, ISSN 0022,3514.
  • Ayduk,O, Mendoza,Denton,R, Mischel,W, Downey,G, Peake,P,K, Rodriguez,M. (2000) Regulating the interpersonal self: strategic self,regulation for coping with rejection sensitivity. Journal of personality and social psychology, vol. 79, no. 5, p. 776,92, ISSN 0022,3514.
  • Metcalfe,J, Mischel,W. (1999) A hot/cool,system analysis of delay of gratification: dynamics of willpower. Psychological review, vol. 106, no. 1, p. 3,19, ISSN 0033,295X.
  • Mischel,W, Shoda,Y. (1998) Reconciling processing dynamics and personality dispositions. Annual review of psychology, vol. 49, p. 229,58, 125 refs, ISSN 0066,4308. Fulltext available at ProQuest
  • Mischel,W, Cantor,N, Feldman,S. (1996).Principles of self,regulation: the nature of willpower and self,control IN: Social psychology: handbook of basic principles (Higgins ET et al). Guilford Press, (New York, NY), , p. 329,60, (364 ref), ISBN 1,57230,100,7.
  • Mischel,W On the empirical dilemmas of psychodynamic approaches: issues and alternatives. Journal of Abnormal Psychology Vol/Iss/Pg. 82/2 (335,344).
  • Mischel,W, Shoda,Y. (1995)A cognitive-affective system theory of personality: reconceptualizing situations, dispositions, dynamics, and invariance in personality structure. Psychological review, , vol. 102, no. 2, p. 246,68, ISSN 0033,295X.
  • Shoda,Y, Mischel,W, Wright,J,C (1994) Intraindividual stability in the organization and patterning of behavior: incorporating psychological situations into the idiographic analysis of personality. Journal of personality and social psychology, vol. 67, no. 4, p. 674,87, ISSN 0022,3514.
  • Shoda,Y, Mischel,W, Wright,J,C. (1993)The role of situational demands and cognitive competencies in behavior organization and personality coherence. Journal of personality and social psychology, vol. 65, no. 5, p. 1023,35, ISSN 0022,3514.
  • Mischel-W, Shoda-Y, Rodriguez-M-L.(1989) Delay of gratification in children.Science; 244(4907):933-8.
  • Rodriguez,M,L, Mischel,W, Shoda,Y. (1989) Cognitive person variables in the delay of gratification of older children at risk. Journal of personality and social psychology, vol. 57, no. 2, p. 358,67, ISSN0022,3514.
  • Mischel,W, Shoda,Y, Rodriguez,M,I. (1989) in person perception: effects of situation,,behavior relations on dispositional judgments. Journal of personality and social psychology, vol. 56, no. 1, p. 41,53, ISSN 0022,3514. Shoda,Y, Mischel,W, Wright,J,C.
  • Wright,J,C, Mischel,W. (1988) Conditional hedges and the intuitive psychology of traits. Journal of personality and social psychology, vol. 55, no. 3, p. 454,69, ISSN 0022,3514.
  • Mischel,W, Shoda,Y, Peake,P,K. (1988) The nature of adolescent competencies predicted by preschool delay of gratification. Journal of personality and social psychology, vol. 54, no. 4, p. 687,96, ISSN 0022,3514.
  • Wright,J,C, Mischel,W. (1987) A conditional approach to dispositional constructs: the local predictability of social behavior. Journal of personality and social psychology, vol. 53, no. 6, p. 1159,77, ISSN 0022,3514.
  • Peake,P,K, Mischel,W. (1984) Getting lost in the search for large coefficients: reply to Conley. Psychological review, vol. 91, no. 4, p. 497,501, ISSN 0033,295X.
  • Hoffman,C, Mischel,W, Baer,J,S. (1984) Language and person cognition: effects of communicative set on trait attribution. Journal of personality and social psychology, vol. 46, no. 5, p. 1029,43, ISSN 0022,3514.
  • Mischel, W, Peake PK. (1982). In search of consistency:measure for measure. In Consistency in Social Behavior: The Ontario Symposium, ed. MP Zanna, ET Higgins, CP Herman, pp.187–207. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum
  • Lewinsohn,P,M, Mischel,W, Chaplin,W, Barton,R. (1980) Social competence and depression: the role of illusory self,perceptions. Journal of abnormal psychology, vol. 89, no. 2, p. 203,12, ISSN 0021,843X.
  • Cantor,N, Mischel,W. (1979) Prototypicality and personality: Effects on free recall and personality impressions. Journal of Research in Personality, Vol/Iss/Pg. 13 /2 (187,205).
  • Mischel,W, Ebbesen,E,B, Zeis,A,M. (1976) Determinants of selective memory about the self. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, vol. 44, no. 1, p. 92,103, ISSN 0022,006X.
  • Mischel,W, Ebbesen,E,B, Zeiss,A,M. (1976) Determinants of selective memory about the self. Journal of Morphology, Vol/Iss/Pg. 148/1 (92,103).
  • Patterson, C,J, Mischel,W. (1975) Plans to resist distraction. Developmental Psychobiology Vol/Iss/Pg. 11/3 (369,378).
  • Mischel,W, Underwood,B (1974) Instrumental ideation in delay of gratification. Child development, vol. 45, no. 4, p. 1083,8, ISSN 0009,3920
  • Mischel,W. Facing the issues. (1973)Journal of abnormal psychology, vol. 82, no. 3, p. 541,2, ISSN 0021,843X.
  • Mischel,W. (1973) On the empirical dilemmas of psychodynamic approaches: issues and alternatives. Journal of abnormal psychology, vol. 82, no. 2, p. 335,44, ISSN 0021,843X.
  • Mischel,W, Moore,B. (1973) Effects of attention to symbolically presented rewards on self,control. Journal of personality and social psychology, vol. 28, no. 2, p. 172,9, ISSN 0022,3514.
  • Mischel,W (1973) Toward a cognitive social learning reconceptualization of personality. Psychological review, vol. 80, no. 4, p. 252,83, ISSN 0033,295X.
  • Mischel,W. (1973) Facing the issues. Journal of Abnormal Psychology Vol/Iss/Pg. 82/3 (541,542).
  • Mischel,W. (1972) Direct versus indirect personality assessment: evidence and implications. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, vol. 38, no. 3, p. 319,24, ISSN 0022,006X.
  • Mischel,W, Ebbesen,E,B, Zeiss,A,R. (1972) Cognitive and attentional mechanisms in delay of gratification. Journal of personality and social psychology, vol. 21, no. 2, p. 204,18, ISSN 0022,3514.
  • Mischel,W. (1969) Continuity and change in personality. The American psychologist, vol. 24, no. 11, p. 1012,8, ISSN 0003,066X.
  • Mischel,W, Grusec,J, Masters,J,C. (1969) Effects of expected delay time on the subjective value of rewards and punishments. Journal of personality and social psychology, vol. 11, no. 4, p. 363,73, ISSN 0022,3514.
  • Mischel,W, Liebert,R,M. (1967) The role of power in the adoption of self,reward patterns. Child development, vol. 38, no. 3, p. 673,83, ISSN 0009,3920.
  • Mischel,W, Grusec,J. (1967) Waiting for rewards and punishments: effects of time and probability on choice. Journal of personality and social psychology, vol. 5, no. 1, p. 24,31, ISSN 0022,3514.
  • Grusec,J, Mischel,W. (1966) Model's characteristics as determinants of social learning. Journal of personality and social psychology, vol. 4, no. 2, p. 211,5, ISSN 0022,3514.
  • Mischel,W. (1966) Theory and research on the antecedents of self,imposed delay of reward. Progress in experimental personality research, vol. 3, p. 85,132, 50 refs, ISSN 0079,6255.
  • Mischel,W, Masters,J,C. (1966) Effects of probability of reward attainment on responses to frustration. Journal of personality and social psychology, vol. 3, no. 4, p. 390,6, ISSN 0022,3514.
  • Mischel,W, Grusec,J. (1966) Determinants of the rehearsal and transmission of neutral and aversive behavior. Journal of personality and social psychology, vol. 3, no. 2, p. 197,205, ISSN 0022,3514.
  • Mischel,W, Liebert,R,M. (1966) Effects of discrepancies between observed and imposed reward criteria on their acquisition and transmission. Journal of personality and social psychology, vol. 3, no. 1, p. 45,53, ISSN 0022,3514.
  • Bandura,A, Mischel,W. (1965) Modification of self-imposed delay of reward through exposure to live and symbolic models. Journal of personality and social psychology, vol. 2, no. 5, p. 698,705, ISSN 0022,3514.
  • Mischel,W, Staub,E. (1965) Effects of expectancy on working and waiting for larger rewards. Journal of personality and social psychology, vol. 2, no. 5, p. 625,33, ISSN 0022,3514.
  • Mischel,W. (1965) Predicting The Success Of Peace Corps Volunteers In Nigeria. Journal of personality and social psychology, vol. 95, p. 510,7, ISSN 0022,3514.
  • Mischel,W, Gilligan,C. (1964) Delay Of Gratification, Motivation For The Prohibited Gratification, And Responses To Temptation. Journal of abnormal psychology, vol. 69, p. 411,7, ISSN 0021,843X
  • Mischel,W, Metzner,R. (1962) Preference for delayed reward as a function of age, intelligence, and length of delay interval. Journal of abnormal and social psychology, vol. 64, p. 425,31, ISSN 0096,851X
  • Mischel,W. (1961) Father,absence and delay of gratification: crosscultural comparisons. Journal of abnormal and social psychology, vol. 63, p. 116,24, ISSN 0096,851X.
  • Mischel,W. (1961) Delay of gratification, need for achievement, and acquiescence in another culture. Journal of abnormal and social psychology, vol. 62, p. 543,52, ISSN 0096,851X.
  • Mischel,W. (1961) Preference for delayed reinforcement and social responsibility. Journal of abnormal and social psychology, vol. 62, p. 1,7, ISSN 0096,851X.
  • Mischel,W, Schopler,J.(1959) Authoritarianism and reactions to sputniks. Journal of abnormal psychology, vol. 59, no. 1, p. 142,5, ISSN 0021,843X.
  • Mischel,W.(1958)Preference for delayed reinforcement: an experimental study of a cultural observation. Journal of abnormal psychology, vol. 56, no. 1, p. 57,61, ISSN 0021,843X.

AutobiographyEdit

  • Mischel, W. (2007). "Walter Mischel". In G. Lindzey & W. M. Runyan (Eds.), A History of Psychology in Autobiography (Vol. IX, pp. 229-267). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.


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