Ellen Langer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Ellen Langer
Ellen Langer.jpg
Born (1947-03-25) March 25, 1947 (age 68)
Bronx, New York
Occupation Psychology professor

Ellen Jane Langer (born March 25, 1947) is a professor of psychology at Harvard University who studies the illusion of control, decision making, aging and mindfulness theory. Langer's most influential work is Counterclockwise, published in 2009, which sparked the interest of aging, and the ins and outs of the process, across the nation. Langer’s book answers the questions of aging from her extensive research.[1]


Ellen Langer was born in Bronx, NY. Langer received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from NYU. She then received her Ph.D. in Social and Clinical Psychology from Yale University in 1974. In 1981, she became the first woman ever to be tenured in psychology at Harvard University.[2]


Ellen Langer is most well known for her contributions to the term coined mindfulness. Langer has been named the “mother of mindfulness,” which was coined from her first published book in 1989, Mindfulness.[3] Langer took a great step into the field of the positive-psychology movement.[4] Langer has published over 200 articles and academic texts.

Early Works[edit]

Langer and colleagues conducted multiple forms of research to promote the flexibility of aging.[4] One study showed that rewarding behaviors and following completion of memory tasks improves memory. Another study showed that simply taking care of a plant improves mental and physical health, as well as life expectancy. These studies were the primitive steps to creating the Langer Mindfulness Scale,.[5]

Contributions at Harvard University[edit]

Ellen Langer became Harvard University's first female tenured professor in the department of psychology.[6] Langer’s start in her research began during her years at Yale, but once she gained her tenured status at Harvard is when her research took launch into modern psychology. Langer provided much insight on many theories, including illusion of control, mindfulness, and aging.[5] Harvard published an interview article discussing Langer’s research and contributions in further detail, stating her significance and importance as a continued tenured professor in the psychology department at Harvard.[5] Langer was published in the New York Times, and discussed her works on Good Morning America.[2]

Contributions to Modern Psychology[edit]

Ellen Langer’s Mindfulness Scale is still used in modern research. Langer’s work is also published in many introductory psychology courses at universities across the United States.[4] Langer’s research in aging provided psychology with improved methods in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.[4] Langer’s work in the theories of mindless behavior and mindfulness provide a basis for many studies focused on individual differences in unconscious behavior and decision making processes in humans.[5] Langer is described as the “mother of mindfulness,” which is contributed to her efforts in this field of psychology.[1] Her efforts continue to improve psychology through the Langer Mindfulness Scale, as well as continuations of her research.[2]


In 1980 she was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. Other honors include the Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest of the American Psychological Association, the Distinguished Contributions of Basic Science to Applied Psychology award from the American Association of Applied and Preventive Psychology, the James McKeen Cattel Award, and the Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize.

Bibliography (selection)[edit]

  • Langer, Ellen J. (1989). Mindfulness. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley. ISBN 0-201-52341-8. 
  • Langer, Ellen J. (1997). The Power of Mindful Learning. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-33991-9. 
  • Langer, Ellen J. (2005). On Becoming an Artist. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-45629-7. 
  • Langer, Ellen J. (2009). Counter clockwise: mindful health and the power of possibility. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0-345-50204-9. 


  1. ^ a b Langer, Ellen. "Ellen Langer Bio". ellenlanger.com. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Times, New York. "Scientist At Work: Ellen Langer, A Scholar of the Absent Mind". www.nytimes.com. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  3. ^ PsychCentral. "The Mother of Mindfulness, Ellen Langer". psychcentral.com. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d Globe, Boston. "Boston Globe Interview with Ellen Langer". boston.com. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d Scholar, Harvard. "Ellen Langer, Research". scholar.harvard.edu. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  6. ^ http://harvardmagazine.com/2010/09/the-mindfulness-chronicles

External links[edit]