In a fascinating new paper, Scott O. Lilienfeld and Steven Jay Lynn discuss 78 Surprising Authors of Psychological Publications. The paper is a list of celebrities and other notable figures who, at one time or another, have published an academic paper in psychology.
Did you know that Lisa Kudrow, aka Phoebe from Friends, was co-author on a 1994 paper about
published in the journal Cephalalgia? Well, thanks to Lilienfeld and Lynn, now you do. Other actors who have authored psychology or neuroscience papers include Colin Firth and Natalie Portman (under her original name, Natalie Hershlag). Other surprising psychologists include Marie Bonaparte, the great grand-niece of Napoleon; Neil Clark Warren, the founder of eHarmony.com; and conservative radio host Michael Savage. The list also includes several physicists, including French physicist Alan Sokal, best-known for his spoof of postmodernism, but who recently published a paper in the American Psychologist debunking the concept of an emotional 'positivity ratio' (as I covered at the time). As to the lessons of the list, here's what Lilienfeld and Lynn have to say:
We hope that [the list] has underscored the penetration of psychological knowledge into academic circles and the more encompassing cultural milieu. Perhaps more than almost any scientific discipline, the sweep of psychology is remarkably broad. Furthermore, we believe that our article has illustrated amply some of the rewards and risks inherent in crossing traditional disciplinary boundaries. With respect to rewards, we have highlighted just a few of the myriad ways in which individuals outside traditional academic circles within psychology have added to psychological knowledge. With respect to risks, it is noteworthy that although several Nobel Laureates in physics ventured into psychology late in their careers, none to our knowledge has made any enduring substantive contributions to this field... Some scientists who have achieved remarkable breakthroughs in physics and chemistry, for instance, may assume that their considerable intellect will allow them to vanquish unresolved psychological problems with equal facility. Yet they may discover to their surprise that psychology may not be quite as simple or self-evident as it appears.
Lilienfeld SO, & Lynn SJ (2016). You'll Never Guess Who Wrote That: 78 Surprising Authors of Psychological Publications. Perspectives on psychological science : a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, 11 (4), 419-41 PMID: 27474131