E. Tory Higgins
Board of
Foundation for
E. Tory Higgins
E. Tory Higgins is one of the most highly-regarded and influential researchers in social psychology as well as the science of motivation. Professor Higgins is the Stanley Schachter Professor of Psychology, Professor of Business, and Director of the Motivation Science Center at Columbia. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He is the author of Beyond Pleasure and Pain: How Motivation Works (Oxford, 2012) and co-author of Focus: Use Different Ways of Seeing the World for Success and Influence (Penguin, 2013). He has received the Donald T. Campbell Award for Outstanding Contributions to Social Psychology (Society of Personality and Social Psychology), the Lifetime Contribution Award (International Society for Self & Identity), the Distinguished Scientist Award (the Society of Experimental Social Psychology), the Anneliese Maier Research Award (Alexander von Humboldt Foundation) the William James Fellow Award for Distinguished Achievements in Psychological Science (the American Psychological Society), and the American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions. He is also a recipient of Columbia’s Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching.

E. Tory "RegulaTORY" Higgins is a passionate scientist and outstanding advisor. With his unparalleled enthusiasm and relentless pursuit of "+1", Tory embodies all the positive aspects of promotion focus. He also combines deep insights into psychology with interpersonal warmth. In the seven years I was at Columbia, I never left a meeting with less than a handful of new ideas, rekindled enthusiasm, and a smile on my face. Tory has more than earned a place in the Wall of Fame!

Kirstin Appelt

Tory is legendary for his passion, enthusiasm, and breadth of knowledge. This reputation is well-deserved. I have never encountered another psychologist who could find something interesting about nearly any topic related to human behavior, and then go on to push the topic in an even more interesting direction. He has brought up several generations of students to care deeply about ideas from all areas of study by mentoring with a real care for each student's intellectual and personal development. He is a true scholar who has done much to advance our understanding of human social behavior. Congratulations!

Joseph Cesario

Tory Higgins is many things - a uniquely gifted and insightful scholar, a generous and supportive colleague, and an award-winning and inspirational teacher. But I know Tory best as an advisor, and in that regard he truly has no equal. Generations of Higgins students refer to ourselves collectively as "the Family," a nod to the sense of belonging that Tory gave to every one of us, and to the mutual admiration and loyalty he inspires. Tory taught us to understand and to have passion for scientific theory, and to appreciate the inherent joy in each new insight - especially when the insight wasn't the one you were expecting. To each of us, he has been father, friend, and champion. His lasting legacy as a social psychologist is matched only by his legacy as mentor of extraordinary skill and devotion.

Heidi Grant Halvorson

E. Tory Higgins is a giant in the field of motivation and social cognition. He is a brilliant theoretician, one of the most creative minds the field has known. To add to this, his energy and enthusiasm for the enterprise of social psychology are contagious. Thank you Tory for many inspiring discussions.

John Holmes

Tory is extremely special to me, and meeting him has changed my life in many ways. Tory’s intellectual achievements are well recognized by our field at large and he is indisputably one of the most impactful and creative social and personality psychologists in the entire history of these research domains. What is less well known perhaps, is his openness to new ideas. He’s got plenty of those himself of course, but he is equally excited about other people’s ideas and he loves to “play” with other people’s (conceptual) “toys.” Whenever I came up with ideas that deviated from the beaten path, and seemed outside the prevailing Zeitgeist, sharing them with Tory is what gave me the confidence to develop them further (rather than dismissing them out of court as too strange and radical). I cherish our multi-leveled friendship and our many travels together, conceptual and otherwise, and am looking for many more, bro!

Arie Kruglanski

In the late 1970’s the University of Western Ontario had a job opening and one of the applicants was Tory Higgins. After his colloquium, the graduate students got together and shared our excitement about his work. We knew things were about to change for us when we were told he took the job. His first graduate course at Western, Social Cognition, was our first exposure to this new and exciting field and to Tory’s approach to the social psychology of cognition. Those of us who have worked with Tory over the years know how fortunate we all were to have this opportunity. He continues to mentor his students, both past and present, and to be a leader in the field. This is a well-deserved honor.

Doug McCann

Tory was not my advisor in graduate school. That should be obvious; after all, he and I are co-authors on exactly one paper. It should follow, then, that I was not Tory’s student in graduate school. But that would be incorrect. The fact is that all of us in the social psychology program at NYU in the 1980s were Tory’s students. It was impossible to be taught by him, to talk with him about research, and to hear him think out loud at brown bags and colloquia without being somehow intellectually transformed. As a result, Tory’s perspective continues to loom large in my thinking on just about any issue related to social cognition. I could try to explain what I mean by that in detail, but I won’t. First of all, it would take too long. But more than that, there would be too much that I would leave out—because there would be too much I’m not even aware of. Trying to explain how Tory shaped my thinking about psychological issues would be like trying to introspect about the neural processes that allow me to distinguish between differently colored objects. It just goes too deep. Remarkably, Tory would have had an impact on my career even if I had been wearing earplugs whenever he spoke. Because above and beyond the thoughts he was expressing, it was impossible not to get swept up in the way in which he was expressing them. Tory modeled for all of us what it is like to become exhilarated by ideas. I imagine I’m not the only one who experienced bouts of intense ambivalence during my graduate training—times when I had to seriously question whether being a social psychologist was worthwhile and whether I really wanted to spend the rest of my life being one. Being around a person who reacts to generating a new hypothesis like someone reaching the top of Mount Kilimanjaro or hearing Jimi Hendrix play for the first time really helps at times like that. Thanks for all that, Tory!

Leonard Newman

I have known Tory Higgins since we were assistant professors together at Princeton University in the 1970s. He was my close friend and colleague from Day 1 and we shared a trek through academic life into Canada and then New York. As a professional, no one is more scholarly and perceptive. He is a pioneer in conducting research on problems that seemed intractable, from his groundbreaking work on the communication game to his current research on shared reality and motivation. His intuition for what is worth investigating is unmatched in the field. He is my friend and I am thankful for every moment I get to spend with him.

Diane Ruble

I had the great fortune of having Tory as my advisor when I was in graduate school at Columbia. What really sets Tory apart, in my experience, is his incredible intellect coupled with his unbridled enthusiasm. This combination is rare to find in an advisor, friend, and collaborator. I can’t imagine the field—or my own professional life—without his influence. Tory’s excitement and investment in ideas makes his graduate students better, his collaborators and colleagues better, the field better.

Tory has created a family with generations of his graduate students. Although he insists he can’t take credit for this, perhaps even he would agree that he sets the conditions that allow it to happen. It is such a precious gift to have not only the opportunity of working with him, but to also have an identity as a Higgins lab member. This professional family gives so many of us a sense of true belonging; our family supports us, challenges us, makes our work better.

Tory is one of the most intellectually generous people I know. I learned so much by watching him ask questions in colloquiums and brown bags in graduate school. Whether addressing another senior colleague or the most junior graduate student, he found new innovations and potential in the work and often got even the speaker more excited about his or her work. Tory looks for ways to build up others as a way to build the field. He believes we can change the world and makes others believers, too.

Abigail Scholer

The passion with which Tory has pursued his research questions and the impact he has had on the intellectual development of our field have long been sources of inspiration to me and many others. The personal support he has provided so many of his colleagues in social psychology has been immeasurable. I’m sure I’m not alone in believing that Tory is just the sort of influential scholar the SPSP Heritage Wall of Fame hopes to acknowledge. It’s an honor he richly deserves.

James Shah

There are one or two moments in a person’s life when they meet someone whose energy, intellect, passion, and generosity change the entire course of where that individual was heading. My encounter with Tory as I was struggling to get accepted for graduate training in psychology was surely such a moment. Who knew back then that I would have a mentor, colleague, kindred spirit, and friend for all these years? Not to mention a front seat at the emergence of some of the most influential ideas in psychology. It’s one thing to read about the lives of intellectual giants across the history of behavioral science, but it’s entirely another thing to work and dine and laugh and cry with one. Tory, you are beloved, unique, and irreplaceable both to me and to the entire field. You surely deserve this honor, and the gratitude of all your students and collaborators as well. Congratulations and savor this – knowing there is much more to come.

Tim Strauman

Congratulations Tory on this fully deserved honor. You have been an amazing mentor to me. You taught me how to BE a social psychologist. How to extract essence from theories, and meaning from data. You were always able to help me develop my own ideas to new dimensions. You also taught me how to drink Kir Royale, Cosmopolitans, and Gin and Tonic, thankfully not in one sitting. Until today when I talk to my students I can hear your words. You are a big part of what I am today, I thank you with all my heart.

Orit Tykocinski

Tory Higgins is clearly a giant in the field of psychology and certainly a 'Compleat Academic'.

Mark Zanna

I have known Tory since we were both youngsters (professionally speaking) and so have had the good fortune to watch the development of his extraordinary career. As an early and vigorous proponent of social cognition, Tory helped revolutionize social psychology by focusing attention on the cognitive processes that underlie social judgment and behavior. In his work on self-discrepancy theory and regulatory focus/fit theory, Tory developed elegant and widely applicable models that link cognition, emotion, and motivation. And in his work on shared reality, Tory made major contributions to our understanding of how meaning is developed through communication and social interaction. Tory's broad intellectual interests, his energy, his creativity, and his courage to follow his ideas wherever they lead have earned him a lasting place in the pantheon of social/personality psychologists. Were this not enough, Tory has made major contributions to other people's careers. A great many of us -- colleagues as well as students -- have benefited from Tory's support and encouragement as we struggled with our own research questions. I feel very fortunate to count Tory as a friend and am delighted to help honor him on the Heritage Wall of Fame.

John Levine

In the German language PhD students do not have PhD advisors, they have “doctor fathers”. That’s what Tory is to me- the person who intellectually has influenced me most. He also happens to be one of the fathers of social cognition, and a devoted genuine father. Tory is an explorer searching across fields and time. He is driven to discover fundamental principles making up the abstract thread that runs across different disciplines and back to the work of the great thinkers of prior eras. This was the ever-present guidepost during our discussions, each one of them being marked by absorbing intensity. The astonishing speed at which Tory thinks made up just one part of this intensity. The other was his beam of passion and focus that would draw me in. When going into his office as PhD students after months of work to show him the results of yet another utterly failed experiment, he would not only find the gold nugget, but also administer us a full dose of Tory-enthusiasm before we went back out. And its effect persisted. To this day I see the mark he has left on me. I feel fortunate and grateful to have Tory as a doctor father, because he has taught me one of the great joys of life, the joy of intellectual discovery.

Miguel Brendl

Further Donations are always welcome, whether to honor E. Tory Higgins or another psychologist. Be sure to leave a note regarding which mentor you would like to donate for and any testimonial you might like to give.