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Psychology professor Ed Diener receives lifetime achievement award

Ed Diener
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L. Brian Stauffer

Ed Diener, the Joseph R. Smiley Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois, is a 2013 recipient of the William James Lifetime Achievement Award for basic research, presented by the Association for Psychological Science.

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2/27/2013 | Madeline Ley, News Bureau Intern | 217-333-5802; diya@illinois.edu

CHAMPAIGN, lll. — Ed Diener, the Joseph R. Smiley Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois, is a 2013 recipient of the William James Lifetime Achievement Award for basic research, presented by the Association for Psychological Science. The award “honors APS members for their lifetime of significant intellectual contributions to the basic science of psychology.”

“This award honors … work (that) has had a profound impact on the field of psychological science over the past quarter century,” said Joseph Steinmetz, the president of the association. Recipients of this award represent “the absolute best our science has to offer,” he said.

In 2012, Diener was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Psychological Association presented him with its Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award.
Diener earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology at California State University at Fresno. He earned his doctorate, specializing in personality psychology, at the University of Washington. He joined the Illinois faculty in 1974 and is an emeritus professor.

Diener’s scholarly work largely focuses on the concept of happiness and its influences, such as cultural, monetary, and personality factors. In 2008, a book he co-wrote with his son, Robert Biswas-Diener, “Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth,” won the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Prose Award for Excellence in Psychology.

It was not always easy for Diener to conduct his research on happiness, an obstacle he hopes that current researchers will no longer have to overcome.

“A professor (I had) when I was an undergraduate told me that happiness could never be studied scientifically, and he would not allow me to conduct the study I had planned,” Diener said. “Now, young researchers will not face this opposition, and our scientific understanding can rapidly move forward.”

Diener said that he hopes his accomplishments will inspire researchers to continue studying happiness.

“Young researchers will see studying well-being as a respectable topic, and not be afraid to enter the field,” he said. “… This is why the awards are important to me. They make my work more visible, and this makes it likely that other scientists, especially young ones entering the field, will follow up and revise, extend, and correct my findings.”

The real satisfaction for Diener is not the awards themselves, but what he did to earn them. “As nice as awards are, the real reward is still doing the research – I love it,” he said. “It is so wonderful to receive recognition for doing what you love.”

Editor's note: To contact Ed Diener, email ediener@illinois.edu.
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