Psychologist Bandura wins Lifetime Career Award from international organization

Albert Bandura

ALBERT BANDURA, a professor emeritus of psychology at Stanford whose career spans 60 years, has been recognized with a Lifetime Career Award from the International Union of Psychological Science(IUPsyS).

“Professor Bandura’s contributions to psychological science are amongst the most significant in the field,” IUPsyS President Rainer Silbereisen said in a press release announcing the award. “He created the social cognitive theory and defined the construct of self-efficacy. His research has benefited areas of societal importance such as education, social skills development, business, health promotion and sport. Albert Bandura’s work inspired us, he really served the humanity.”

Bandura is a proponent of an “agentic” theory of human behavior exercised, in part, through perceived self-efficacy. It holds that individuals are capable of self-regulating their cognitive, motivational, emotional and behavioral lives, instead of simply reacting to external environmental forces and acting on subconscious impulses. We have the capacity to regulate our own actions and solve problems cognitively. Self-efficacy has been applied in a wide range of disciplines from education and health to business, athletics and medicine and social and political change.

A native of Alberta, Canada, Bandura earned his undergraduate degree from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and completed his graduate work at the University of Iowa. He joined Stanford’s faculty in 1953 and remained an active faculty member for 57 years.

He has published seven books, including Social Learning and Personality Development in 1963 and Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control in 1997.  He also has edited two other books and authored numerous articles.  As part of his theory of moral agency, he is completing a book on “moral disengagement”, which analyzes  how good people act harmfully through selective disengagement of moral self-sanctions.

This is not the first award Bandura has received in recognition for his life’s work. In 2004, he won the Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology from the American Psychological Association and in 2006 he received the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for Advancement of Health Promotion through Health Promotion Research from the American Academy of Health Behavior and also the Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Lifetime Contribution to Psychological Science from the American Psychological Foundation. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the recipient of 20 honorary degrees.

“I’m deeply grateful to be a recipient of this award,” Bandura said in a videotaped address, shown during an IUPsyS awards ceremony in Cape Town, South Africa, last week.  “I accept it not so much as a personal honor, but as gratitude that the international scientific community has acknowledged the theoretical approach that I have taken to advance human enlightenment and human betterment. A career has many coauthors, so I am greatly indebted to my supportive colleagues and my creative collaborators, who have a hand in this award.  My indebtedness is best captured in the eloquent words of the poet Yeats: ‘Ask where my glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was, I had such friends.'”

— BY ELAINE RAY