Bandura receives Grawemeyer Award

Albert Bandura

Albert Bandura

Albert Bandura, the David Starr Jordan Professor, has been awarded the 2008 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Psychology, a $200,000 prize. He was selected from among 31 nominations in five countries for his groundbreaking work in social cognitive theory and self-efficacy.

Bandura's ideas have helped define the way today's psychologists understand the mind and human behavior, the judges said. He was the first to prove that self-efficacy, a belief in one's capabilities, affects the tasks one chooses, how much effort is put into them and how one feels while doing them. Bandura also found that people learn not only as a result of their own beliefs and expectations but also by "modeling" or observing others, an idea that led to the development of modern social cognition theory. "He has had enormous impact not only on psychology, but on other disciplines as well," the award committee stated. In 2002, a survey in the Review of General Psychology ranked Bandura as the fourth most eminent psychologist of the 20th century, behind B. F. Skinner, Jean Piaget and Sigmund Freud.

The Grawemeyer Foundation at the University of Louisville in Kentucky annually awards $1 million—divided equally into five prizes—for accomplishments in psychology, music composition, ideas improving world order, education and religion. The prize recognizes powerful ideas or creative works in the sciences, arts and humanities. Bandura will receive the award next spring and deliver a public lecture about his work in Louisville.

Charles Grawemeyer, who died in 1993, was an industrialist, entrepreneur and University of Louisville alumnus.