Lance Rips

Lance Rips

Fellow: Awarded 2008

Field of Study: Psychology

Competition: US & Canada


Lance Rips is a Professor of Psychology at Northwestern University, a position he took up in 1994 after a nineteen-year tenure at the University of Chicago. His interest in cognitive psychology, whetted during his graduate studies at Stanford University (Ph.D., 1974), became a focal point of his career. Beginning with studies of how people’s memories organize meanings of words and sentences, he expanded his researches while at Chicago to include deductive reasoning. His years of investigation on this topic were supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Mental Health; an NIMH Research Scientist Development Award (1979-84) and a James McKeen Cattell Award (1989-90) allowed him to study logic at the University of Chicago and MIT and to spend a year as a visiting scholar at Stanford. His findings were presented in his first book, The Psychology of Proof (MIT, 1994).

At the University of Chicago, Mr. Rips further deepened his focus to include the memory of everyday events, an area of particular concern for survey methodologists since misreporting by survey respondents can significantly impair the accuracy of their findings. He presented some of his findings, in collaboration with Norman Bradburn and Steven Shevell, in “Answering Autobiographical Questions,’ which appeared in Science in 1987. He continued his work on this subject when he joined the faculty at Northwestern. He spent a year’s sabbatical (1997-98) at the Bureau of Labor Statistics studying survey methodology, thanks to support from the NSF, the American Statistical Association, and the BLS. One of the results of his decades’ long studies was The Psychology of Survey Response (Cambridge UP, 2000), written with Roger Tourangeau and Kenneth Rasinski, which won the book award from the American Association of Public Opinion Research. Among his most recent publications on this subject is “Seam effects in quantitative responses” in the Journal of Official Statistics (forthcoming), written in collaboration with F. G. Conrad and S. S. Fricker.

At Northwestern he expanded his examination of concepts and reasoning to include mathematical reasoning and with a view to find the best method for presenting mathematical concepts to students. A Fulbright Fellowship in 2004-05 allowed him to collaborate with faculty at the University of Leuven in Belgium on this subject. And with the support of an NSF grant he further developed his theory of informal argumentation, an outgrowth of his work on reasoning. His most recent monograph, Reasoning: Studies of Human Inference and Its Foundations (Cambridge UP, 2008), coauthored with J. E. Adler, synthesizes his career-long research on the subject.

Mr. Rips is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, and the Society of Experimental Psychologists. In addition to his laboratory studies and teaching responsibilities, he is a former editorial board member of Memory and Cognition and Cognitive Psychology and currently serves on the boards of Cognition, Public Opinion Quarterly, and Informal Logic.