Richard E. Nisbett

Last updated
Richard E. Nisbett
Native name
Richard Eugene Nisbett
Born (1941-06-01) June 1, 1941 (age 78)
Alma mater Columbia University
Spouse(s)Sarah Isaacs
Awards Donald T. Campbell Award from American Psychological Association (1982), Guggenheim Fellowship (2002)
Scientific career
Fields Social psychology
Institutions University of Michigan
Thesis Taste, deprivation and weight determinants of eating behavior (1966)
Doctoral advisor Stanley Schachter

Richard Eugene Nisbett (born 1941) [1] is an American social psychologist and writer. He is the Theodore M. Newcomb Distinguished Professor of social psychology and co-director of the Culture and Cognition program at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Nisbett's research interests are in social cognition, culture, social class, and aging. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University, where his advisor was Stanley Schachter, whose other students at that time included Lee Ross and Judith Rodin.

Social psychology scientific study of social effects on peoples thoughts, feelings, and behaviors

Social psychology is the scientific study of how people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined or implied presence of others. In this definition, scientific refers to the empirical investigation using the scientific method. The terms thoughts, feelings, and behaviors refer to psychological variables that can be measured in humans. The statement that others' presence may be imagined or implied suggests that humans are malleable to social influences even when alone, such as when watching videos, sitting on the toilet, or quietly appreciating art. In such situations, people can be influenced to follow internalized cultural norms. Social psychologists typically explain human behavior as a result of the interaction of mental states and social situations.

University of Michigan Public research university in Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States

The University of Michigan, often simply referred to as Michigan, is a public research university in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The university is Michigan's oldest; it was founded in 1817 in Detroit, as the Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania, 20 years before the territory became a state. The school was moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 onto 40 acres (16 ha) of what is now known as Central Campus. Since its establishment in Ann Arbor, the university campus has expanded to include more than 584 major buildings with a combined area of more than 34 million gross square feet spread out over a Central Campus and North Campus, two regional campuses in Flint and Dearborn, and a Center in Detroit. The university is a founding member of the Association of American Universities.

Columbia University Private Ivy League research university in New York City

Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university in New York City. Established in 1754 near the Upper West Side region of Manhattan, Columbia is the oldest institution of higher education in New York and the fifth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It is one of nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence, seven of which belong to the Ivy League. It has been ranked by numerous major education publications as among the top ten universities in the world.


Perhaps his most influential publication is "Telling more than we can know: Verbal reports on mental processes" (with T. D. Wilson, 1977, Psychological Review, 84, 231–259), one of the most often cited psychology articles published, with over 13,000 citations. [2] [3] This article was the first comprehensive, empirically based argument that a variety of mental processes responsible for preferences, choices, and emotions are inaccessible to conscious awareness. Nisbett and Wilson contended that introspective reports can provide only an account of "what people think about how they think," but not "how they really think."[ citation needed ] Some cognitive psychologists disputed this claim, with Ericsson and Simon (1980) offering an alternative perspective. [4]

Timothy D. Wilson is an American social psychologist and writer. He is the Sherrell J. Aston Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia and teaches public policy at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. He is known for his research on self-knowledge and the influence of the unconscious mind on decision-making, preferences and behavior. He is the author of two popular books on psychology, Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious and Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change.

K. Anders Ericsson is a Swedish psychologist and Conradi Eminent Scholar and Professor of Psychology at Florida State University who is internationally recognized as a researcher in the psychological nature of expertise and human performance.

Nisbett's book The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently... And Why (Free Press; 2003) contends that "human cognition is not everywhere the same," that Asians and Westerners "have maintained very different systems of thought for thousands of years," [5] and that these differences are scientifically measurable. Nisbett's book Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count (2009) argues that environmental factors dominate genetic factors in determining intelligence. The book reviewed extensive favorable attention in the press and from some fellow academics; [6] for example, University of Pennsylvania psychologist Daniel Osherson wrote that the book was a "hugely important analysis of the determinants of IQ". On the other hand, more critical reviewers argued that the book failed to grapple with the strongest evidence for genetic factors in individual and group intelligence differences. [7]

The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why is a book by social psychologist Richard Nisbett that was published by Free Press in 2003. By analyzing the differences between Asia and the West, it argues that cultural differences affect people's thought processes more significantly than believed.

Daniel Nathan Osherson is an American psychologist and the Henry R. Luce Professor of Psychology at Princeton University.

With Edward E. Jones, he named the actor–observer bias, the phenomenon where people acting and people observing use different explanations for why a behavior occurs. [8] This is an important concept in attribution theory, and refers to the tendency to attribute one's own behaviour to situational factors, other people's behaviour to their disposition. Jones and Nisbett's own explanation for this was that our attention is focussed on the situation when we are actors, but on the person when we are observers, although other explanations have been advanced for the actor-observer bias.

Edward Ellsworth "Ned" Jones was an influential American social psychologist, he is known as father of Ingratiation due to his major works in the area. He worked at Duke University and from 1977 at Princeton University. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Jones as the 39th most cited psychologist of the 20th century.

In an interview with The New York Times, Malcolm Gladwell said, "The most influential thinker, in my life, has been the psychologist Richard Nisbett. He basically gave me my view of the world." [9]

Malcolm Gladwell Canadian journalist and science writer

Malcolm Timothy Gladwell is a Canadian journalist, author, and public speaker. He has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1996. He has published five books: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (2000); Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005); Outliers: The Story of Success (2008); What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures (2009), a collection of his journalism; and David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (2013). All five books were on The New York Times Best Seller list. His sixth book, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know, is scheduled to be released in September 2019. He is also the host of the podcast Revisionist History and co-founder of the podcast company Pushkin Industries.

Books and significant papers

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.



  1. Deutsche Nationalbibliothek "Nisbett, Richard E."
  2. Nisbett, Richard E.; Wilson, Timothy D. (1977). "Telling more than we can know: Verbal reports on mental processes" (PDF). Psychological Review. 84 (3): 231–59. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.84.3.231.
  3. "Google Scholar". Retrieved 8 September 2019. Cited by 13531
  4. Ericsson, K. Anders; Simon, Herbert A. (1980). "Verbal reports as data". Psychological Review. 87 (3): 215–51. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.87.3.215.
  5. Nisbett 2003, p. xvi
  6. Holt, Jim (March 27, 2009). "Get Smart". The New York Times.
  7. Lee, James J. (2010). "Review of intelligence and how to get it: Why schools and cultures count, R.E. Nisbett, Norton, New York, NY". Personality and Individual Differences. 48 (2): 247–55. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2009.09.015.
  8. "Actor-observer difference". Oxford Reference.
  9. "Malcolm Gladwell: By the Book". The New York Times. October 3, 2013.
  10. Brief Biography for Richard E. Nisbett, University of Michigan faculty page

Related Research Articles

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<i>Intelligence and How to Get It</i> book by Richard E. Nisbett

Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count is a 2009 book about human intelligence by Richard Nisbett, a professor of social psychology at the University of Michigan. The book challenges the hereditarians' argument that IQ is entirely or almost entirely heritable, and argues that nonhereditary factors play a more significant role than hereditarians assert. It also recommends how to tutor children so as to maximize their intelligence. The book also argues that IQ scores are a reliable, though imperfect, indicator of general intelligence, while criticizing some of the assertions made about such scores in the 1994 book The Bell Curve. The book's appendix argues that racial differences in IQ are entirely due to environmental factors.