Two University psychology professors are among the top ten contemporary psychologists in the world, according to a recent survey of experts published in the journal of the American Psychology Association. The July 1991 issue of American Psychologist names Martin Seligman and Robert Rescorla to the list, which is topped by Harvard scholar B.F. Skinner, who died last August. "I'm pleased because I work in a field of experimental psychology that is not considered one of the hot areas," Rescorla said this week. "It's good for the field to have that happen." The magazine, which is read primarily by academics, selected the top psychologists by surveying university psychology department chairpersons, who composed four separate "top ten" lists, two detailing the most influential contemporary psychologists and two ranking the most prominent all-time psychologists. The lists were compiled from questionnaires sent to the chairpersons and forms sent to APA Fellows classified with special interests in the history of the field. "Martin Seligman has had an extraordinary impact on the field of abnormal psychology," said department chairperson John Sabini this week. "Some of his work showed that people who assume bad things will happen will be depressed." Sabini said both men, in addition to their research, have taught introductory psychology and other undergraduate courses. "Bob [Rescorla] studies the fundamental processes of learning, the formation of associations in primarily animals other than humans," Sabini said. "That research has led [others] to what may be the first physical manifestation of memory." Both scholars also received their doctoral degrees from the University, and shared graduate advisor Richard Solomon, who has since retired from the University. "Solomon established a tradition of the Penn department being concerned about teaching and undergraduate education at once," Sabini said. "Martin [Seligman] and Bob [Rescorla] are modern representations of this." Rescorla added that the ranking reflects well on the psychology department, and it may even help the University. "It reflects what a lot of people already knew, that the Penn psychology deparment is one of the premier institutes for training grad students," he said. "It probably doesn't hurt having the publicity for attracting grad students." Seligman agreed, saying that he only considers Stanford University's department, which had three names on the list, to be superior to the University's. "It does probably confirm my belief that we are the number two department in the nation," he said this week. "It bodes well for our future." Sabini also said that the two University professors are younger than all of the other psychologists named on the list. He added that that helps ensure the future of the University's impact on the field. "Their input is in fewer seasons than the other people on the list," he said.Comments powered by Disqus
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