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The Media Book Prize for the Promotion of Social and Personality Science
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Award Description

Past Recipients

Past Citations

Nominations Closed

Established in 2011 by SPSP, TheMedia Book Prize for the Promotion of Social and Personality Science honors a book written by a psychologist that makes a distinctive and important contribution to the field by promoting an understanding of the science of social and personality psychology to the general public.

Books serve an important role in promoting understanding of social and personality psychology to the general public. The aim of this Prize is to give recognition to the best book of the given year that presents social and personality psychology to broader audiences.

This Prize has several benefits.

  • It serves to recognize the role of books in promoting our science to the wider public.
  • Books are one way that people inside the field often contribute to getting the word out about our science making this a good mechanism to recognize those efforts (given that the other two Media Awards are meant to focus on SPSP outsiders).

The Award Nomination Panel has the option of not awarding a prize annually.

The recipient receives a $500 honorarium.


2013 Jonathan Haidt

"The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion"

2012 James Pennebaker
The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us



The 2013 Media Book Prize goes to Jonathan Haidt for his book "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion" (Pantheon Books, 2012). Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind takes us on a tour of how people bind themselves to political and religious teams and the moral narratives that accompany them. Using a range of arguments – anthropological, psychological, and evolutionary – he invites his readers to entertain the proposal that the political left and the right in the United States emphasize different virtues and he earnestly suggests that we use that discovery to try to get along. Whether you ultimately agree with Haidt’s view or not, it is one that is well worth considering given that the country is confronted by an ideological impasse of unprecedented magnitude.


The 2012 Media Book Prize goes to James W. Pennebaker, for "The Secret Life of Pronouns: What our Words Say About Us." Before reading this book, anyone other than the most devoted lexiphile might ask, "Who cares about pronouns?” But Pennebaker shows why pronouns matter: they reflect our personality, goals, and context. The science is compelling, the thrust is novel, and the conclusions furnish a provocative basis for expanding the way we understand and study human behavior. By weaving in references to online self-tests, well-known public figures, and literary characters, Pennebaker has created a book that is engaging, fun, and accessible to readers well beyond the field of Psychology. As such, The Secret Life of Pronouns generates broad interest in the science of psychology and the importance of the research done in our field.

Nominations Closed

Nominations for this award have closed.  The Media Book Prize will be presented at the annual Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference, which will take place in Long Beach, California, February 26-28, 2015.

This year’s Award Nomination Panel for the 2014 Media Book Prize is Tom Gilovich (Chair), Jamil Zaki, Jon Haidt, and Kathleen Vohs.

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