William Kaye Estes
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|William Kaye Estes|
|Born||June 17, 1919
|Died||August 17, 2011(aged 92)|
|Alma mater||University of Minnesota|
|Thesis||An Experimental Study of Punishment (1943)|
|Doctoral advisor||B. F. Skinner|
|Known for||Stimulus sampling theory, Mathematical Psychology|
|Influenced||Association for Psychological Science|
William Kaye Estes (June 17, 1919 – August 17, 2011) was an American psychologist.
Background and education
As an undergraduate, Estes was a student of Richard M. Elliott at the University of Minnesota. As a graduate student he stayed at the University of Minnesota, and worked under B. F. Skinner, with whom he developed the conditioned suppression paradigm (Estes & Skinner, 1941).
After receiving his doctorate, Estes joined Skinner on the faculty of Indiana University. After Estes got out of the U. S. Army at the end of World War II, he established his reputation as one of the originators of mathematical learning theory. Estes went from Indiana University to Stanford University, to Rockefeller University in New York, and finally to Harvard University. While teaching at Harvard University, Estes contributed as an instituting first editor of the Psychological Science for the Association for Psychological Science. He was also editor of Psychological Review from 1977-1982 
One of Estes' most famous contributions to learning theory was stimulus-sampling theory, which conceives of learning as establishing associations to hypothetical stimulus elements that are randomly drawn from a pool of elements that characterize a particular learning situation. This theory predicted probability matching, which has been found in a wide range of tasks for many different organisms.
Estes has had a major influence on theories of learning and memory, both in his own theorizing and in the theories of his many students and collaborators. In honor of his impact within the field of psychology, Estes received the National Medal of Science on December 16, 1997 from President Bill Clinton.
- Estes and his mentor B.F. Skinner presented their analysis of anxiety, introducing the conditioned emotional response (CER)/conditioned fear response (CFR) paradigm, where rats were trained to respond on an operant schedule that produced a steady response rate, after which they were tested with an electric shock stimulus that was conditioned as a fear signal. The fear signal suppressed the operant response, and the magnitude of suppression was used as a mesure of anxiety. The CER/CFR became widely used to study Pavlovian conditioning in a variety of organisms.
- Estes presented his influential stimulus sampling theory in the Psychological Review article Toward a Statistical theory of Learning. This theory assumes that conditioning involves associating responses to the elements of a stimulus that are sampled on a particular trial. Variability in learning arises because of the statistical properties of sampling elements randomly from a larger population of potential elements.
- Later Works
- Learning Theory and Mental Development
- Statistical Models in Behavioral Research
- Classification and Cognition
- Member of Society of Experimental Psychologists
- Nominated Adviser National Academy of Science
- A founding editor for Journal of Mathematical Psychology through the Society of Mathematical Psychology
- A founding editor for Journal of Psychological Science through the Association for Psychological Science
Awards and honors
- 1962 Distinguished Research and Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association
- 1963 Warren Medal from the Society of Experimental Psychologists, Nominated to the National Academy of Science
- 1992 American Psychological Foundation Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Psychological Science
- 1997 National Medal of Science for his "'fundamental theories of learning, memory, and decision'" by President Bill Clinton
- Kintsch, Walter; Cacioppo, John T. (1994). "Introduction to the 100th Anniversary Issue of the Psychological Review". Psychological Review 101 (2): 195–199.
- Estes, W. K.; Skinner, B. F. (1941). "Some quantitative properties of anxiety". Journal of Experimental Psychology 29 (5): 390. doi:10.1037/h0062283.
- Bower, G. H. (1994). "A turning point in mathematical learning theory". Psychological review 101 (2): 290–300. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.101.2.290. PMID 8022959.
- Estes, William K. (1989), Lindzey, Gardner, ed., A History of Psychology in Autobiography, Stanford University Press, pp. 94–125, ISBN 0-8047-1492-4
- Gluck, Mark (November 2011), "Remembering William K. Estes June 17, 1919 - August 17, 2011", Observer 24 (9)
- Izawa, Chizuko (November 2011), "William K. Estes Timeline: His Science and Achievements", Observer 24 (9)
- Estes, William (2 February 2002). "History Society of Mathematical Psychology". Society of Mathematical Psychology. SMP. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
- ,. "William K. Estes". Society of Mathematical Psychology. Retrieved 6 December 2011.