Dave Meyer Wins 2014 Norman Anderson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Experimental Psychologists
The Society of Experimental Psychologists (SEP) has awarded its 2014 Norman Anderson Lifetime Achievement Award to Professor Dave Meyer. The award was announced on April 12th at the 2014 Meeting of the Society of Experimental Psychologists for his "for his pioneering contributions to the understanding of word recognition, the control of aimed movements, and the cognitive architecture underlying dual-task performance."
Over the course of a remarkably productive career, David Meyer has made seminal contributions to diverse areas of experimental psychology. In the early 1970s, he made his first profound discovery: a word such as dog is recognized more quickly when it is preceded by a related word (e.g. cat) than when it is preceded by an unrelated word (key). That simple finding – which is now part of the foundational knowledge that defines our field – revolutionized theories of word recognition and remains as influential today as it was 40 years ago.
Later, in the 1980s, he turned his attention to movement control. Making a faster movement – for example, when playing the piano – occurs at the expense of being spatially less accurate. Since 1954, this speed-accuracy tradeoff was known to be characterized by a logarithmic
function known as Fitts' Law, but a satisfactory theoretical explanation for that empirical relationship remained elusive. Meyer and his colleagues solved this puzzle by proposing an elegant rational theory of Fitts' Law based on normative assumptions of optimality. This
theoretical breakthrough linked the previously isolated study of physical movement to theories of sensation and perception, memory and cognition, and reasoning and problem solving – all of which routinely incorporate rational and normative rules.
Later, Meyer embarked on another influential line of research investigating the mental chronometry underlying perception, cognition, and action in dual-task situations, such as driving while talking on a cell phone. To what extent do perceptual processes associated with the
two activities occur in parallel? How is the output from one operation communicated to another? His work on this issue and related issues culminated in an influential theoretical framework known as EPIC (which stands for Executive-Process Interactive Control) that accounts for
skilled performance not only in the laboratory but also in real-world situations, such as aircraft operation and human-computer interaction.
Founded in 1904, the society is an honorary elected group of about 200 psychologists. The Norman Anderson Lifetime Achievement Award is given to senior individuals with outstanding records of sustained contribution to experimental psychology.