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Psychology professor receives international research award

May 02, 2010

Stephen G. West, a professor of psychology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU, is a recipient of the prestigious senior research award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Bonn, Germany. The foundation promotes academic cooperation between excellent scientists and scholars from Germany and abroad. Up to 100 Humboldt Research Awards are granted annually. They recognize the body of work of a researcher whose fundamental discoveries, new theories or insights have had a significant impact on their own discipline, and who are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievement in the future.

West has combined research in quantitative research methods, personality and prevention research. He was editor of the American Psychological Association journal, Psychological Methods, from 2002-2007 and editor of Journal of Personality from 1986-1991. He is the co-author (with Leona Aiken) of "Multiple Regression: Testing and Interpreting Interactions" and "Applied Multiple Regression/Correlation Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences" (with Jacob Cohen, Patricia Cohen and Leona Aiken).

In 1997, West was the recipient of ASU's Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award; in 2000, he received the Henry A. Murray Award for lifetime contributions to the study of lives from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology; and in 2006, he received the Jacob Cohen Award for outstanding teaching and mentoring from the American Psychological Association's division of Evaluation, Measurement and Statistics. Four of his former doctoral students have won early career achievement awards from their home university or professional research associations in psychology or methodology.

An ASU faculty member since 1981, West received his doctorate from the University of Texas, Austin, and his undergraduate degree from Cornell University. Before coming to ASU, he was an associate professor at Florida State University. He also was a visiting faculty member at several U.S. universities – University of Wisconsin, University of Texas and UCLA – and several in Germany – University of Kiel, University of Heidelberg and Free University of Berlin.

In a reflective interview West discusses his career and future research.

What in your mind has been the most satisfying work or research you've done over the course of your career?

Well, I'm proud of my work with quantitative research methods. I have become well-known for my work and research on multiple regression, which is a statistical method for studying how two or more variables combine to affect a third variable. I have done work on research designs and casual inference, in which you work to make sure that intervention programs actually produce results. In some cases determining that an intervention produced a result is simple, but in certain real world situations it is not. For instance, if you're doing research on the effects of early screening on reducing later diagnosis of cancer, what do you do to assure that screening actually produced changes if some people don't agree to screening or are not available for later study?

How will the Humboldt Research Award help further your research?

This award pays for 12 total months of research and study in Germany over the course of three years. In May, I will be going to Free University in Berlin to start that research. I will be working on some new approaches to multiple regression, measurement, and research designs and causal inference. Information about the award is still coming out to me and the public, so it’s really too early to see what other kinds of opportunities it will bring.

Who nominated you for this award?

I worked with a group of German professors for three years before receiving this. I met Michael Eid when I was a keynote speaker at the methodology section of the German Psychology Association in 2001, and he, along with Ralf Schwarzer and Christine Keitel-Kreidt nominated me.

Who are your research collaborators at ASU?

The Quantitative Research Methods Graduate Program at ASU is one of the best in the country, with five other distinguished faculty members: Leona Aiken, Craig Enders, Christian Geiser, David Mackinnon and Roger Millsap. Some have worked with me since the 1980s. I have also published with many other faculty members in the psychology department and Prevention Center over the years.

How has ASU changed since you came here?

The Honor's College was established bringing top undergraduates to ASU. There is a stronger emphasis throughout the university on research. And the psychology department has become not only bigger in size – from hundreds to thousands of undergraduate majors – but it has developed a strong undergraduate honors program and several strong graduate programs.

Written by Daniel Moore ( for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Carol Hughes,