Gifford Weary received her B.A. in psychology with highest distinction from the University of Kansas in 1973. That same year, she began graduate study at Vanderbilt University in a highly unique social and clinical psychology program. Four years later, upon receipt of her Ph.D., she undertook a year-long clinical internship at Columbia Presbyterian Hospitals. In 1978, Giff began her academic career at Ohio State University, where she has spent her entire career as an integral part of the Social Psychology program. She was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor in 1983, and in 1989 she was promoted to the rank of Full Professor. Professor Weary served as Chair of the Department of Psychology from 2002 to 2008. Following this, she was Divisional Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences at OSU from 2008 until her retirement in 2014.
Giff’s lifelong commitment to the Ohio State Psychology Department manifested itself in many ways, and she has played a central role in the success of that program. However, her dedication was perhaps most prominently displayed when, in 2009, she donated $2 million from her family’s foundation to Ohio State’s Department of Psychology to create the endowed Robert K. and Dale J. Weary Chair in Social Psychology. After her retirement, Giff was honored by numerous colleagues and former graduate students during the OSU Social Psychology 50th Anniversary celebration.
The bulk of Giff's research has been devoted to articulating the influence of various cognitive and motivational influences on social perception processes. Her scholarly contributions fall into four interrelated areas: (1) the role of motivation in attribution processes; (2) control motivation and causal uncertainty; (3) the social information processing consequences of depression; and (4) the impact of optimistic and pessimistic expectancies on conscious and unconscious inferences about another's behaviors. This work has resulted in 6 books and over 90 articles and chapters. In 1984, Giff received the Distinguished Scholar Award from Ohio State University in recognition of her research accomplishments, and in 2000 she was named the OSU Distinguished Lecturer.
Giff holds fellow status in the American Psychological Association (APA), the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), the American Psychological Society (APS), the American Association for Applied Psychology and Prevention (AAAPP), and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI). In 1998, she was elected President of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.
Giff has served as Associate Editor for Psychological Science, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, and Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, and has been a member of numerous Editorial Boards.
- It is no overstatement to say that Giff is among a handful of people who had a really profound effect on my life course. Even today, 20 years after I left graduate school, I find myself using the “what would Giff do?” heuristic when I have to make a professional decision, whether something to do with my career or something to do with research. This influence has continued in my current administrative role, where pondering what Giff would do has gotten me through a number of tricky situations. My department was recently approved for a new PhD program, and much of the orientation and culture surround the program – at least to the extent that I have played a role – was directly influenced by the way Giff approached graduate education.
My time as Giff’s advisee trained me to respect scientific rigor and the integrity of our field, and the importance of commitment to one’s students. As an advisor she was in equal parts rigorous and caring, but ultimately focused on the quality of our work. She taught me both the importance of having a broad perspective on the field - so as to know what the important questions are - as well as the importance of attention to detail. She taught me the importance of resilience in the face of setbacks (such as those pesky rejected journal submissions). But ultimately she’s been a long-time friend. After I left Ohio State she continued to function as my mentor, and even today remains someone I can turn to for advice or a glass of really good wine.
Perhaps more important than any of this, however, is the time spent playing with (and dogsitting for) her series of King Charles Cavalier Spaniels, who apparently do best on a diet of Teddy Grahams and white wine.
- One aspect of Giff’s mentorship that I most appreciate is her interdisciplinary approach to theory, research and the profession. Of course she helped me realize many intriguing connections between social and clinical psychology, connections that still inform my work, now as an organizational psychologist, some thirty years later. But I could not have appreciated then, as I clearly do now, just how much of a positive lifelong impact Giff’s integrative approach to psychology would have on my varied and still evolving cross-boundary careers.
- There was no shortage of incredible mentors at Ohio State in the mid-1980s, but I have always considered myself especially lucky to have been the student in my year who got to have Giff as an advisor. She was a great role model, and I still look to the experience I gained with her for how to treat students, bridge fields, do research, buy a car…how to be a top-notch academic and a person both. I always enjoyed thinking through things with her, and have continued to be grateful for the example, friendship, and mentoring that she provided.
-Faith Gleicher Boninger
- Gifford Weary greatly deserves this honor for the multiple influences she had--on extending the boundaries of social psychology, on the university where she spent her career, and through her training of students. At the start of Gifford’s career, she played an influential role in the debate regarding motivation versus cognition in explaining attributional biases, and was a leader in one of the earliest "social /" movements, namely social "/"clinical psychology. Her work on control motivation, depression, causal uncertainty, and social cognition presaged the second important foray of social into broader areas, namely social/health psychology research. Across her career her work continued to be an important motivational voice bridging the Heiderian world of attribution into new areas of social cognition.
Giff also played multiple important roles at Ohio State University, where she spent her entire career. Her willingness to serving as chair and then in a dean role was certainly a gift to the department. But I particularly appreciate her early influence on the future of the social area that are perhaps less obvious. Giff trained graduate students across two areas of psychology, and she became an increasingly important voice in the social psychology area over time. She was a bit of anomaly in the context of the foursome of the senior faculty who were the social area at the time, grounded as her work was in a Heiderian attribution and motivation framework, and at the cutting edge of a new cross-disciplinary field. The social psychology area at OSU decades later is a dramatically different program, broader, larger, and more wide-reaching in scope than the program was in the middle-late 1980s when I applied to the doctoral program. Indeed for me, that Gifford was a faculty member in social psychology made the program more attractive. With her as a researcher, the range of research topics for a graduate student in the program felt substantially broader than it would without her. Interestingly, Giff’s growing involvement in the social program occurred at a turning point in the OSU social program. I suspect that Giff’s energy and broadening of the research foci of the social area had some ambient influence in those changes.
Most of all, however, I treasure Giff’s influence on me as a research mentor. With Giff as an advisor, I was able to find a way to pursue research questions that particularly interested me. I have had the good fortune to find good mentors: Giff was exactly what one needs as an advisor, providing timely and excellent input about writing, presenting, and making sense of research; giving feedback regarding missteps, encouraging independence, and being supportive throughout my career.
- Thanks to Giff, I can't read a paper without thinking about how to relate it to causal uncertainty. In 1992, she introduced me to this new construct that remains my primary research topic. Thanks to Giff, I am a much, much better writer and, therefore, a much, much better teacher and supervisor. Thanks to Giff, I have been using simple slopes analyses for 20+ years, a technique that I recently saw introduced at a workshop as something new and novel. Indeed, I took 12 graduate quant courses at OSU, but I probably learned as much about statistics from Giff as from those courses. I still use the handouts that I created for Giff's lab meetings in my own statistics courses and have kept up the tradition of devoting at least one lab meeting to discussing statistical techniques. It is nice to see the simple slopes approach finally become not just accepted but the norm. I well remember an associate editor who in rejecting our paper admonished us for using that approach and telling us that his colleagues who were experts in statistics agreed with him. I would love to hear what he has to say now! Most of all thanks to Giff, I got my dream job of being a professor. Having had grad students of my own, I have much greater appreciation for all that she did for me especially sticking with me. I definitely have had my comeuppance for all the challenges that I put Giff through!
- Giff has been a wonderful mentor to me throughout graduate school and beyond. From my first year project to my more independent pursuits, she has always given me her time and encouragement. Giff fostered such a productive, supportive atmosphere in her lab: there was always someone around to teach a new statistical technique or run ideas by. Giff has made important contributions to the field throughout her career and been an integral part of the social psychology program at Ohio State University. She is dedicated to doing quality work and understanding why people think the way they do.
- Giff has been an amazing mentor to me. When I was a postdoc, Giff went out of her way to make me feel welcome in her lab. She introduced me to the background and methods of doing research on individual differences and motivation, and she was generous with opportunities to work with her on many lines of research. Her talent for integrating research in social, personality, and clinical psychology has inspired me ever since. Additionally, she has consistently provided me with excellent professional advice. I am delighted to honor her for being an amazing scholar, leader, and role model, and to express my deep gratitude for all she has continued to teach me over the years.
-Leigh Ann Vaughn