The Thibaut Award is given in honor of John Thibaut (1917 – 1986), a prominent social psychologist who was a member of UNC’s faculty for a number of years. Each year, UNC’s graduate students select a psychologist whose work has served to inspire the academic community. This year, the honored awardee is Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett.
The 2019 Thibaut Award Lecture by Dr. Barrett, entitled “The Power of Predictions: An Emerging Paradigm for Psychological Research” was on January 14. She spoke about the last two decades of neuroscience research, and how they have produced a growing number of studies suggesting that the various psychological phenomena all derive from common predictive processes in the brain. When considered together, these studies form a coherent, neurobiologically-inspired research program for guiding psychological research about the mind and behavior. Dr. Barrett’s talk also briefly considered several key assumptions and hypotheses that unify this predictive processing approach. Questions about the nature of emotion were used to illustrate emotion’s potential for innovating psychological theory and research. Also discussed were the ramifications of this predictive processing approach, both for improving the replicability and robustness of psychological research and for innovating psychological theory by suggesting an alternative ontology of the human mind.
Dr. Barrett is a University Distinguished Professor of Psychology here at Northeastern University, where she focuses on the study of emotion. She is the Director of the Interdisciplinary Affective Science Laboratory and is the founding editor-in-chief of the journal Emotion Review. She is the author of “How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain” and has published over 200 peer-reviewed, scientific papers as well as six academic volumes. Dr. Barrett received a National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award for her revolutionary research on emotion in the brain.
Congratulations to Dr. Barrett!