In Memory Of… William Estes
Honoring scientists who have made important and lasting contributions to the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior.
William Estes, PhD (1919-2011)
Professor and Distinguished Scholar of Psychology and Cognitive Science
William Kaye Estes received a B.A. in 1940 and a Ph.D. in 1943 from the University of Minnesota, under the guidance of B. F. Skinner. He received honorary D.Sc. degrees from Indiana University in 1976 and from the University of Minnesota in 1998. After serving in the Army Air Force during World War II, he began teaching at Indiana University in 1946, where he stayed until 1962, when he joined the Stanford University faculty. In 1968 he moved to The Rockefeller University and in 1979 to Harvard University. In 1999, he returned to Indiana University where he was Professor of Psychology and Distinguished Scholar of Psychology and Cognitive Science.
Estes was one of the founders of the field of mathematical psychology. In over 60 years of research, he demonstrated how experimental observations of behavior can be compared to the predictions of a mathematical or computer simulation model. Using this method, he had a profound impact on psychology through many groundbreaking theoretical and empirical studies on a wide range of topics in learning, memory, perception, choice, and categorization. Estes also made major contributions to experimental methodology and to the understanding and use of statistical methods in psychology. In addition, he made enormous editorial contributions, for example, serving as Editor of the Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, the Psychological Review, and Psychological Science. Furthermore, Estes made immense contributions as a leader of many professional organizations in the field. For example, he was one of the founders of the Psychonomic Society and Chair of the organizing group of the Society for Mathematical Psychology. He served as Chair of the Governing Board of the Psychonomic Society, Chair of the Society for Mathematical Psychology, President of the Midwestern Psychological Association, President of the Division of Experimental Psychology of the American Psychological Association, Chair of the Mathematical Social Science Board, Vice President of the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological, and Cognitive Sciences, and Chair of the Psychology Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Estes’ many awards include the U.S. National Medal of Science, the Gold Medal Award for Life Achievement in Psychological Science from the American Psychological Foundation, the Warren Medal from the Society of Experimental Psychologists, and the Distinguished Research Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association. In addition, Estes was a Member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an Honorary Life Member of the New York Academy of Sciences, and a William James Fellow of the American Psychological Society.
Individuals Honoring William Estes:
Elizabeth Bjork, University of California, Los Angeles
Chuck Brainerd, Cornell University
George Collier, Rutgers University
Robert Goldstone, Indiana University
James Greeno, University of Pittsburgh
*Alice Healy, University of Colorado
Chizuko Izawa, Tulane University
Michael Kahana, University of Pennsylvania
Walter Kintsch, University of Colorado
Carol L. Krumhansl, Cornell University
R. Duncan Luce, University of California, Irvine
Todd Maddox, University of Texas
Douglas Medin, Northwestern University
John W. Moore, University of Massachusetts
Valerie Reyna, Cornell University
Richard Shiffrin, Indiana University
Patrick Suppes, Stanford University
Thomas Wallsten, University of Maryland
Daniel Willingham, University of Virginia
Joseph L. Young, University of Maryland
* The FABBS Foundation would like to thank Dr. Alice Healy for nominating Dr. Estes for this honor and for leading the effort to spread the word about his nomination.