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2012 Patrick Suppes Prize in Psychology

2012 Spring General Meeting
R. Duncan Luce

The recipient selected for the 2012 Patrick Suppes Prize in Psychology is Dr. R. Duncan Luce in recognition of his distinguished and prolific research and publications in decision-making and utility theory that have continued unabated from the 1950s to the present.

R. Duncan Luce is Distinguished Research Professor of Cognitive Sciences and Research Professor of Economics at the University of California, Irvine, where he has been since 1988.  He received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1950.

Trained as a mathematician but transformed under the tutelage of many distinguished social and psychological scientists into a mathematical behavioral scientist, R. Duncan Luce has worked on a variety of measurement issues.  These include probabilistic models of choice and responses times, algebraic formulations that lead to measurement representations such as additive and non-additive conjoint measurement, the interlocks between measurement systems with applications to utility and subjective weights and to aspects of psychophysics.  His publications include 8 authored or co-authored volumes, 14 edited or co-edited volumes, and over 220 journal articles.

During the award ceremony, Patrick Suppes stated the following:

"Since the appearance in 1947 of Theory of Games and Economic Behavior by John Von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern, the study of decision making, utility and individual choice theory has been a central topic of research in the social sciences, especially economics and psychology.  In this research community no one has had a longer and more distinguished career than Duncan Luce.  He started early with the publication of Games and Decisions in 1957, with Howard Raiffa, and then two years later, with the publication of Individual Choice Behavior.  The latter book especially established the framework for dozens of papers by Luce and his colleagues, as well as others, for several decades.

We now fast forward more than forty years to 2000, Luce continued his remarkable career of research with a new book, Utility of Gains and Losses:  Measurement-Theoretical and Experimental Approaches.  This book particularly displays his intellectual distinction in both mathematical theorizing and conducting relevant experiments to test the theory.   In the decade since the appearance of this book, Luce has produced a large body of new research.  The latest article, published in 2010, reflects the constancy and depth of his focus, as can be seen from the title "Behavioral Assumptions for a Class of Utility Theories: A Program of Experiments", that was published in the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty.  Moreover, there are five papers written in 2011, still under submission or subject to revision, on related topics."

Dr. Luce's honors include membership in the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences; the National Medal of Science; the American Psychological Foundation Gold Medal; the UCI Medal; the Ramsey Medal; the Norman Anderson Award; an honorary doctorate from the University of Waterloo. He has previously served on the faculties of Harvard University, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the University of Pennsylvania, all at the rank of professor or a name chair. He was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 1994.

Five years ago Patrick Suppes, the Lucie Stern Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Stanford University and a member of this Society for more than twenty years now, established and funded a set of prizes to honor accomplishments in three very different and deeply significant scholarly fields that reflect the spectacular scope of his own interests.  The Patrick Suppes Prize will be awarded annually, with a cycle of three years rotating each of the three subject matter areas – a prize in Philosophy with special consideration for the Philosophy of Science, a prize in Psychology, and a prize in the History of Science.

The Patrick Suppes Prize Selection Committee consisted of Pat Suppes (chair), Willem J.M. Levelt, Former President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Director Emeritus of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Special Max Planck Society Chair and Professor Emeritus of Psycholinguistics of Nijmegen University; and Richard M. Shiffrin, Distinguished Professor, Luther Dana Waterman Professor, Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science, Indiana University.