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Annual Convention Legacy Program

The Society for Personality and Social Psychology is pleased to announce Ravenna M. Helson as the 2017 Annual Convention Legacy honoree. This program is designed to honor legacy figures in social and personality psychology. 

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Ravenna M. Helson received her B.A. and M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. She was at Smith College before moving back to Berkeley where she led the Institute of Personality Assessment and Research's project on creativity in women.  In 1980, Ravenna was awarded an NIMH grant to study adult development in the women of Mills College that she had initially studied in 1958/1960. The Mills Project is a premier longitudinal study with assessments of the women in their 20s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s. The 100+ publications from the Mills Project examine how personality changes (or not) in relation to social roles, socio-historical context, and critical life events. For example, one seminal contribution is the concept of the social clock project, which Ravenna used to show how personality patterns relate to the timing of work and family role commitments. More generally, two enduring themes that emerge from Ravenna’s work are (1) personality is more than “just traits” and must include a conceptualization of the whole person, and (2) personality does change and in different ways for different people depending on their life experiences. Ravenna received the 2003 Block Award.

The theme of Legacy program is to trace the impact of the senior scholar’s seminal contribution (or body of work) to contemporary work through a series of events as follows:

1. Legacy Symposium

This will be a symposium that pairs the honored figure with two active researchers whose work builds upon the legacy’s work. The legacy will have the opportunity to address the audience in whatever format they would like for half of the symposium’s allotted time. The rest of the symposium time would be devoted to presentations by the two contemporary researchers who would present more traditional research talks that highlight how their work can be traced back to the honored guest’s seminal contribution(s).

2. Legacy Lunch

Directly following the symposium, the Legacy will host a lunch for his or her academic legacies (e.g., students and students’ students, etc.), major contributors to the research area as appropriate, and other guests as selected by the honoree. 

3. Legacy Posters

Posters accepted for the SPSP convention that can trace back to the Legacy (through a self-nomination process) will have the option to pick up a Legacy Badge onsite at the convention. Displaying this badge on their poster will signify all the work the legacy continues to touch. 

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