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Robert P. Abelson

Robert P. Abelson

Robert P. Abelson
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Psychologist
Was Political scientist Psychologist Mathematician Statistician
From United States of America
Type Healthcare Mathematics Politics
Gender male
Birth 12 September 1928
Death 13 July 2005 (aged 76 years)
Star sign Virgo
Princeton University Doctor of Philosophy (-1953)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology undergraduate degree
The Bronx High School of Science
William James Fellow Award 1989
APA Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Psychology 1986
Fellow of the American Statistical Association  
Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences  
Peoplepill ID robert-p-abelson
The details (from wikipedia)


Robert Paul Abelson (September 12, 1928 – July 13, 2005) was a Yale University psychologist and political scientist with special interests in statistics and logic.


He was born in New York City and attended the Bronx High School of Science. He did his undergraduate work at MIT and his Ph.D. in psychology at Princeton University's Department of Psychology under John Tukey and Silvan Tomkins.

From Princeton, Abelson went to Yale, where he stayed for the subsequent five decades of his career. Arriving during the Yale Communication Project, Abelson contributed to the foundation of attitudes studies as co-author of Attitude Organization and Change: An Analysis of Consistency Among Attitude Component, (1960, with Rosenberg, Hovland, McGuire, & Brehm). While at Yale, Abelson was briefly a bass in the Yale Russian Chorus.

With Milton J. Rosenberg, he developed the notion of “symbolic psycho-logic," an early attempt, using an idiosyncratic kind of adjacency matrix of a signed graph, at a descriptive (rather than prescriptive) psychological organization of attitudes and attitude consistency, which was key to the development of the field of social cognition.

The notion that beliefs, attitudes, and ideology were deeply connected knowledge structures was contained in Scripts, Plans, Goals, and Understanding (1977, with Roger Schank), a work that has collected several thousand citations, and led to the first interdisciplinary graduate program in cognitive science at Yale. His work on voting behavior in the 1960 and 1964 elections, and the creation of a computer program modeling ideology (the “Goldwater machine”) helped define and build the field of political psychology.

He was the author of Statistics As Principled Argument which includes prescriptions for how statistical analyses should proceed, as well as a description of what statistical analysis is, why we should do it, and how to differentiate good from bad statistical arguments. He was a co-author of several other books in psychology, statistics, and political science. In 1959, Abelson published a paper to elucidate different ways in which an individual tends to resolve his "belief dilemmas" (Abelson «Modes of Resolution of Belief Dilemmas» Journal of conflict Resolution 1959).

Abelson received the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from APA, the Distinguished Scientist Award from SESP, and the Distinguished Scientist Award from the International Society of Political Psychology. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1978.

He died of complications of Parkinson's disease.


  • Bush, Robert R.; Abelson, Robert; Hyman, Ray (1956). Mathematics for Psychologists. New York: Social Science Research Council. OCLC 2301803.
  • Schank, Roger; Abelson, Robert P. (1977). Scripts, plans, goals and understanding: An inquiry into human knowledge structures. New Jersey: Erlbaum. ISBN 0-470-99033-3.
  • Abelson, Robert P. (1995). Statistics as Principled Argument. Hillsdale, N.J.: L. Erlbaum Associates. OCLC 31011850.
  • Abelson, Robert P.; Frey, Kurt P.; Gregg, Aiden P. (2004). Experiments with People : Revelations From Social Psychology. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum. OCLC 51389089.
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 04 Apr 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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