E. Tory Higgins

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E. Tory Higgins
Tory Higgins.jpg
Edward Tory Higgins

(1946-03-12) March 12, 1946 (age 74)
Alma materMcGill University
Columbia University
Scientific career
FieldsSocial psychology, personality psychology, developmental psychology, social cognition, motivation science
InstitutionsColumbia University (1989-present)
Columbia Business School (2002-present)
New York University (1981–1989)
University of Western Ontario (1977–1981)
Princeton University (1972–1977)

Edward Tory Higgins (born March 12, 1946) is the Stanley Schachter Professor of Psychology, Professor of Business,[1] and Director of the Motivation Science Center[2] at Columbia University. Higgins has a broad set of research interests, including motivation and cognition, judgment and decision-making, and social cognition. His more notable contributions to the field of psychology include work on priming, self-discrepancy theory, and regulatory focus theory. He is also the author of Beyond Pleasure and Pain: How Motivation Works,[3] and Focus: Use Different Ways of Seeing the World for Success and Influence (with Heidi Grant Halverson).[4]


Higgins received a Joint Honors B.A. degree in sociology and anthropology from McGill University in 1967, an M.A. in social psychology from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1968, and a Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia University in 1973. His early work included the study of priming and accessibility, through which social judgment is influenced through the unconscious activation of social categories.[5] In 1981, he was hired by New York University, where he worked with others to re-build the social/personality psychology program. Among the early hires at NYU during this time were John Bargh, Shelly Chaiken, and Yaacov Trope. In 1989, Higgins returned to Columbia and served as the Chair of the psychology department from 1994 to 2001.

At Columbia University, Higgins has worked on the science of motivation and self-regulation. He expanded his prior research on self-discrepancy theory, which examines the impact of the disparities people experience between their actual selves and their "ideal" or "ought" self-guides.[6] Self-discrepancy theory acted as the foundation upon which Higgins then developed regulatory focus theory, which posits two distinct self-regulatory systems for approaching gains (promotion) vs. avoiding losses (prevention).[7] In 2000, Higgins developed regulatory fit theory, proposing that people experience fit when using means of goal pursuit that align with their regulatory orientation: vigilant means fit with a prevention focus, whereas eager means fit with a promotion focus.[8] Also in 2000, Higgins and Arie Kruglanski developed regulatory mode theory, which describes two complementary self-regulatory functions: assessment concerns with critical evaluation of options in order to make the right choice of goals and means and locomotion concerns with controlling smooth movement from state to state in order to effect change.[9] These theories have also informed the development of Higgins’ model of motivational effectiveness, which posits that motivation comprises distinct drives for value (achieving desired end-states), truth (understanding what's real), and control (managing what happens).[3][10] Higgins has also studied shared reality, the motivation to create shared feelings, beliefs, and concerns with others.[11]

Selected awards[edit]

Higgins is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[12] He gave the University Lecture at Columbia University and received Columbia's Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching.[13] He is a member of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology Wall of Fame[14] and was recently awarded the Ambady Award for Mentoring Excellence (Society for Personality and Social Psychology).[15] Selected additional awards include:

Selected publications[edit]


  • Grant Halvorson, H., & Higgins, E. T. (2013). Focus: Use different ways of seeing the world for success and influence. New York: Penguin Press.
  • Higgins, E. T., (2012). Beyond pleasure and pain: How motivation works. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Edited books and monographs (Representative)[edit]

  • Echterhoff, G., & Higgins, E. T. (Eds.) (in press). Special issue of Current Opinion in Psychology: Shared reality. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
  • Kruglanski, A. W., & Higgins, E. T. (Eds.) (2017). Special issue of Motivation Science: Interdisciplinary research in motivation science. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
  • Van Lange, P., Kruglanski, A. W., & Higgins, E. T. (Eds.) (2012), Handbook of theories of social psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Kruglanski, A. W., & Higgins, E. T. (Eds.) (2007). Social psychology: Handbook of basic principles, Second Edition. New York: Guilford.
  • Kruglanski, A. W., & Higgins, E. T. (Eds.) (2004). Theory construction in social-personality psychology. Special issue of Personality and Social Psychology Review. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Higgins, E. T., & Kruglanski, A. W. (Eds.). (2000). Motivational science: Social and personality perspectives. Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press.
  • Sorrentino, R. M., & Higgins, E. T. (Eds.). (1996). Handbook of motivation and cognition: The interpersonal context. New York: Guilford.
  • Levine, J. M., & Higgins, E. T. (Eds.), (1995). The social context of cognition. Special issue of Social Cognition. New York: Guilford.

Journal articles and book chapters (Representative)[edit]

  • Webb, C. E., Coleman, P. T., Tomasulo, L. R., Rossignac-Millon, M., & Higgins, E. T. (2017). Moving on or digging deeper: Regulatory mode and interpersonal conflict resolution. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 112, 621–641.
  • Echterhoff, G., & Higgins, E. T. (2017). Creating shared reality in interpersonal and intergroup communication: The role of epistemic processes and their interplay. European Review of Social Psychology, 28, 175–226.
  • Higgins, E. T. (2016). Shared-reality development in childhood. Perspectives On Psychological Science, 11, 466–495.
  • Cornwell, J. F. M., Franks, B., & Higgins, E. T. (2014). Truth, control, and value motivations: The ‘what’, ‘how’, and ‘why’ of approach and avoidance. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 8,194.
  • Higgins, E. T., Cornwell, J. F. M., & Franks, B. (2014). "Happiness" and "The Good Life" as motives working together effectively. In A. J. Elliot (Ed.), Advances in Motivation Science, Volume 1 (pp. 135–180). New York: Academic Press.
  • Echterhoff, G., Kopietz, R., & Higgins, E. T. (2013). Adjusting shared reality: Communicators' memory changes as their connection with their audience changes. Social Cognition, 31, 162–186.
  • Eitam, B., & Higgins, E. T. (2010). Motivation in mental accessibility: Relevance of a Representation (ROAR) as a new framework. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 4, 951–967.
  • Higgins, E. T., Cesario, J., Hagiwara, N., Spiegel, S., & Pittman, T. (2010). Increasing or decreasing interest in activities: The role of regulatory fit. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98(4), 559–572.
  • Echterhoff, G., Higgins, E. T., & Levine, J. M. (2009). Shared reality: Experiencing commonality with others’ inner states about the world. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4, 496–521.
  • Echterhoff, G., Higgins, E. T., Kopietz, R., & Groll, S. (2008). How communication goals determine when audience tuning biases memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 137(1), 3-21.
  • Higgins, E. T., Echterhoff, G., Crespillo, R. & Kopietz, R. (2007). Effects of communication on social knowledge: Sharing reality with individual vs. group audiences. Japanese Psychological Research, 49, 89–99.
  • Higgins, E. T. (2006). Value from hedonic experience and engagement. Psychological Review.
  • Echterhoff, G., Higgins, E. T., & Groll, S. (2005). Audience-tuning effects on memory: The role of shared reality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 257–276.
  • Forster, J., Liberman, N., & Higgins, E. T. (2005). Accessibility from active and fulfilled goals. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 41, 220–239.
  • Higgins, E. T., Idson, C. L., Freitas, A. L., Spiegel, S., & Molden, D. C. (2003). Transfer of value from fit. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(6), 1140–1153.
  • Higgins, E. T. (2000). Making a good decision: Value from fit. American Psychologist, 55, 1217–1230.
  • Higgins, E. T. (2000). Social cognition: Learning about what matters in the social world. European Journal of Social Psychology, 30, 3-39.
  • Higgins, E. T. (1997). Beyond pleasure and pain. American Psychologist, 52, 1280–1300.
  • Hardin, C. D., & Higgins, E. T. (1996). Shared reality: How social verification makes the subjective objective. In E. T. Higgins & R. M. Sorrentino (Eds.), Handbook of motivation and cognition: The interpersonal context (Vol. III). New York: Guilford Press.
  • Higgins, E. T., Roney, C. J. R., Crowe, E., & Hymes, C. (1994). Ideal versus ought predilections for approach and avoidance: Distinct self-regulatory systems. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66, 276–286.
  • Higgins, E. T. (1987). Self-discrepancy: A theory relating self and affect. Psychological Review, 94, 319–340.
  • Higgins, E. T., Bargh, J. A., & Lombardi, W. (1985). The nature of priming effects on categorization. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 11, 59–69.
  • Higgins, E.T., King, G. A., & Mavin,G. H. (1982). Individual construct accessibility and subjective impressions and recall. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43, 35–47.
  • Higgins, E.T., Rholes, W.S., & Jones, C.R. (1977). Category Accessibility and Impression Formation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 13, 141–154.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "E. Tory Higgins | Department of Psychology". Columbia University. Retrieved 2018-06-24.
  2. ^ "Motivation Science Center Faculty & Staff". Columbia Business School. Retrieved 2018-06-24.
  3. ^ a b Higgins, E. Tory (2012). Beyond Pleasure and Pain: How Motivation Works. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199765829.
  4. ^ Focus by Heidi Grant Halvorson and E. Tory Higgins. New York: Penguin Press. 2013.
  5. ^ Tory Higgins, E.; Rholes, William S.; Jones, Carl R. (1977). "Category accessibility and impression formation". Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 13 (2): 141–154. doi:10.1016/s0022-1031(77)80007-3. ISSN 0022-1031.
  6. ^ Higgins, E. Tory (1989), "Self-Discrepancy Theory: What Patterns of Self-Beliefs Cause People to Suffer?", in Berkowitz, Leonard (ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 22, Elsevier, pp. 93–136, doi:10.1016/s0065-2601(08)60306-8, ISBN 9780120152223
  7. ^ Higgins, E. Tory; Shah, James; Friedman, Ronald (1997). "Emotional responses to goal attainment: Strength of regulatory focus as moderator". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 72 (3): 515–525. CiteSeerX doi:10.1037/0022-3514.72.3.515. ISSN 1939-1315.
  8. ^ Higgins, E. Tory (2000). "Making a good decision: Value from fit". American Psychologist. 55 (11): 1217–1230. doi:10.1037/0003-066x.55.11.1217. ISSN 1935-990X.
  9. ^ Kruglanski, Arie W.; Thompson, Erik P.; Higgins, E. Tory; Atash, M. Nadir; Pierro, Antonio; Shah, James Y.; Spiegel, Scott (2000). "To "do the right thing" or to "just do it": Locomotion and assessment as distinct self-regulatory imperatives". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 79 (5): 793–815. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.79.5.793. ISSN 1939-1315. PMID 11079242.
  10. ^ Higgins, E. Tory; Cornwell, James F.M.; Franks, Becca (2014), "Happiness" and "The Good Life" as Motives Working Together Effectively, Advances in Motivation Science, 1, Elsevier, pp. 135–179, doi:10.1016/bs.adms.2014.08.004, ISBN 9780128005125
  11. ^ "Shared reality: How social verification makes the subjective objective". APA PsycNET. 1996.
  12. ^ "Professor Tory Higgins Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences". Columbia Business School. 2007-09-13. Retrieved 2018-06-24.
  13. ^ "Professor Tory Higgins Wins Presidential Teaching Award". Columbia University. May 19, 2004.
  14. ^ "Heritage Fund Initiative". www.foundationpsp.org. Retrieved 2018-06-24.
  15. ^ "Dr. E. Tory Higgins is the winner of the 2017 SPSP Ambady Award for Mentoring Excellence. | Department of Psychology". psychology.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2018-06-24.
  16. ^ "Society of Self and Identity – Awards". www.issiweb.org. Retrieved 2018-06-24.
  17. ^ "Distinguished Scientists Award Recipients". SESP. Retrieved 2018-06-24.
  18. ^ "Awards for Distinguished Scientific Contributions" (PDF). American Psychological Association.
  19. ^ "2000 William James Fellow Award". Association for Psychological Science. Retrieved 2018-06-24.
  20. ^ "Thomas M. Ostrom Award". Person Memory Interest Group. Retrieved 2018-06-24.
  21. ^ "Donald T. Campbell Award". APA. Retrieved 2018-06-24.

External links[edit]