Dr Daryl Bem - Author Biography

Cornell University Psychology Professor And Pioneering Psychologist

Dr. Daryl Bem: Pioneering Social Psychologist
Cornell University Professor D J Bem

Early Years and Academic Pursuits

Born in Denver, Colorado, on June 10, 1938, Daryl Bem was a curious individual with a keen interest in understanding the intricacies of human behavior from an early age. Completing his high school education in 1956, Bem went on to attend Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Originally focusing on physics, he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in the subject in 1960.

However, as his fascination with human behavior continued to grow, Bem changed his academic trajectory. Opting for a career in psychology, he enrolled at the prestigious Stanford University. There, he earned his Master's degree in 1962 and his Ph.D. in Social Psychology in 1964 under the guidance of renowned psychologist, Dr. Leon Festinger.

Contributions to Social Psychology

Embarking on a fruitful academic career, Dr. Bem took up teaching positions at various esteemed institutions, including Carnegie Mellon University, Stanford University, and, ultimately, Cornell University. Throughout his career, he made several groundbreaking contributions to the field of social psychology.

One of his most notable contributions is the development of the self-perception theory. This theory posits that individuals infer their attitudes and emotions based on their own behavior and the context in which it occurs. Bem's self-perception theory challenged the prevailing belief that attitudes and emotions directly cause behavior, suggesting instead that behavior could also shape emotions and attitudes.

Another significant contribution of Dr. Bem's work is the "exotic becomes erotic" theory, which explores the development of sexual orientation. According to this theory, individuals develop attractions to those they perceive as different or "exotic" during childhood. Bem's theory was unique in its approach, as it strayed from the more traditional biological explanations for sexual orientation.

Dr. Bem also made substantial contributions to the understanding of cognitive dissonance, a concept introduced by his Ph.D. advisor, Dr. Leon Festinger. Bem extended Festinger's work, showing that cognitive dissonance could be reduced not only by changing attitudes or behavior but also by altering the perception of the original behavior.

In addition to his work on self-perception and cognitive dissonance, Dr. Bem was known for his research on group decision-making processes. He co-authored a widely cited study with Charles Lord and Mark Lepper, demonstrating how individuals tend to seek out and favor information that confirms their pre-existing beliefs, a phenomenon known as "confirmation bias."

Parapsychology Research

In the latter part of his career, Dr. Bem ventured into the controversial field of parapsychology. He conducted numerous experiments to investigate the existence of psychic phenomena, specifically focusing on precognition and retroactive influence. His research on this topic generated considerable debate and attracted widespread attention, both within and outside the academic community.

One of his most well-known studies in this area, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2011, explored the phenomenon of "feeling the future." In this study, Bem presented evidence suggesting that people could unconsciously anticipate future events, a finding that challenged the conventional understanding of causality and the nature of time.

Although his parapsychology research was met with skepticism and criticism from some quarters, Dr. Bem's work contributed significantly to the ongoing conversation about the potential existence of psychic phenomena and the boundaries of scientific inquiry.

Personal Life and Legacy

Daryl Bem was not only an accomplished academic but also a devoted family man. He married fellow psychologist Sandra Lipsitz Bem in 1961, and together they raised two children. The couple collaborated on various research projects, most notably their work on gender schema theory, which explored the impact of gender roles and stereotypes on cognitive processes. Their partnership continued until Sandra's passing in 2014.

Dr. Bem's dedication to his family extended beyond his professional collaboration with his wife. He was an active and supportive father, often integrating his family life with his academic pursuits. His unique approach to blending work and personal life demonstrated his commitment to maintaining a balanced and fulfilling existence.

Throughout his career, Dr. Bem was known for his engaging and accessible writing style. He was particularly skilled at communicating complex ideas in ways that could be understood by a wide audience, making his work relevant and impactful beyond the confines of academia. He authored several books and numerous articles, which have been widely cited by researchers in various fields.

Dr. Bem's work has had a profound influence on the field of social psychology. His groundbreaking theories and innovative research methods continue to inspire new generations of psychologists. Many of his ideas, such as self-perception theory and his work on cognitive dissonance, remain cornerstones of contemporary social psychology research.

In addition to his lasting impact on psychology, Dr. Bem's foray into parapsychology contributed to the ongoing dialogue on the boundaries of scientific investigation. His exploration of precognition and retroactive influence pushed the limits of conventional scientific thinking, encouraging scholars to consider alternative explanations for seemingly inexplicable phenomena.

Retirement and Ongoing Influence

Dr. Daryl Bem retired from his position as a professor of psychology at Cornell University in 2007, but his work continues to shape the field. His numerous publications, theories, and research methods remain an integral part of the social psychology landscape, and his contributions to parapsychology persist in stimulating debate and inquiry.

Even in retirement, Dr. Bem has remained an active member of the academic community. He has continued to write, consult, and participate in discussions related to his areas of expertise. His ongoing engagement in the intellectual sphere is a testament to his passion for understanding the complexities of human behavior and advancing the field of psychology.

In conclusion, Dr. Daryl Bem's illustrious career as a pioneering social psychologist has left an indelible mark on the field. From his groundbreaking self-perception theory to his controversial work in parapsychology, Bem has consistently pushed the boundaries of psychological research. His dedication to understanding the human mind and his ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner have cemented his legacy as a trailblazer in the world of social psychology.

Published Articles

Publications 1960-1969:

Wallach, M. A., Kogan, N., & Bem, D. J. (1962). Group influence on individual risk taking.Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 65, 75-86.

Bem, D. J. (1964). An Experimental Analysis of Beliefs and Attitudes. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, University of Michigan.

Wallach, M. A., Kogan, N., & Bem, D. J. (1964). Diffusion of responsibility and level of risk taking in groups. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 68, 263-274.

Lane, H. & Bem, D. J. (1965). A Laboratory Manual for the Control and Analysis of Behavior. Belmont, Calif.: Brooks/Cole.

Bem, D. J. (1965). An experimental analysis of self-persuasion. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 1, 199-218.

Bem, D. J., Wallach, M. A., & Kogan, N. (1965). Group decision-making under risk of aversive consequences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1, 453-460.

Bem, D. J. (1966). Inducing belief in false confessions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 3, 707-710.

Bem, D. J. (1967). Self-Perception: The dependent variable of human performance. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 2, 105-121.

Bem, D. J. (1967). Self-Perception: An alternative interpretation of cognitive dissonance phenomena. Psychological Review, 74, 183-200.

Bem, D. J. (1967). Reply to Judson Mills. Psychological Review, 74, 536-537.

Bem, D. J. (1968). The epistemological status of interpersonal simulations: A reply to Jones, Linder, Kiesler, Zanna, & Brehm. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 4, 270-274.

Bem, D. J., & Bem, S. L. (1968). Nativism revisited: A review of Eric H. Lenneberg's Biological Foundations of Language. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 11, 497-501.

Madaras, G., & Bem, D. J. (1968). Risk and conservatism in group decision making. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 9, 205-209.

Bandler, R., Madaras, G., & Bem, D. J. (1968). Self-observation as a source of pain perception. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 9, 205-209.

Bem, D. J. (1968). Dissonance reduction in the behaviorist. In R. P. Abelson, E. Aronson, W. J. McGuire, T. M. Newcomb, M. J. Rosenberg & P. H. Tannenbaum (Eds.), Theories of Cognitive Consistency: A Sourcebook. Chicago: Rand McNally.

Bem, D. J. (1968). Attitudes as self-descriptions: Another look at the attitude-behavior link. In A. G. Greenwald, T. C. Brock, & T. M. Ostrom (Eds.), Psychological Foundations of Attitudes. New York: Academic Press.

Publications 1970-1979:

Bem, D. J. (1970). Beliefs, Attitudes, and Human Affairs. Belmont, Calif.: Brooks/Cole.

Bem, D. J., & McConnell, H. K. (1971). Testing the self-perception explanation of dissonance phenomena: On the salience of premanipulation attitudes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 14, 23-31.

Bem, D. J. (1971). The concept of risk in the study of human behavior. In R. E. Carney (Ed.), Risk-Taking Behavior: Concepts, Methods, and Applications to Smoking and Drug Abuse. Springfield, Ill.: Charles C. Thomas.

Holstein, C., Goldstein, J., & Bem, D. J. (1971). The importance of expressive behavior, involvement, sex, and need-approval in inducing liking. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 7, 534-544.

Bem, D. J. (1972). Self-perception theory. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, (Vol. 6, pp. 1-62). New York: Academic Press.

Bem, D. J. (1972). Constructing cross-situational consistences in behavior: Some thoughts on Alker's critique of Mischel. Journal of Personality, 40, 17-26.

Bem, S. L., & Bem, D. J. (1973). Does sex-biased job advertising "aid and abet" sex discrimination? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 1, 6-18.

Bem, D. J. (1974). The cognitive alteration of feeling states: A discussion. In H. London & R. E. Nisbett (Eds.), Thought and Feeling. Chicago: Aldine.

Bem, D. J., & Allen, A. (1974). On predicting some of the people some of the time: The search for cross-situational consistencies in behavior. Psychological Review, 81, 506-520.

Bem, D. J. (1977). Predicting more of the people more of the time: Some thoughts on the Allen-Potkay studies of intraindividual variability. Journal of Personality, 45, 327-333.

Bem, D. J., & Funder, D. C. (1978). Predicting more of the people more of the time: Assessing the personality of situations. Psychological Review, 85, 485-500.

Bem, D. J., & Lord, C. G. (1979). Template-matching: A proposal for probing the ecological validity of experimental settings in social psychology. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 833-846.

Publications 1980-1989:

Bem, D. J. (1980). Assessing situations by assessing persons. In D. Magnusson (Ed.), Toward a Psychology of Situations: An Interactional Perspective. Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum.

Bem, D. J. (1980). Assessing persons and situations with the template-matching technique. In L. Kahle (Ed.), New Directions in the Methodology of Behavior Research: Methods for Studying Person-Situation Interactions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Bem, D. J. (1981). Writing the research report. In L. H. Kidder (Ed.), Selltiz, Wrightsman & Cook's Research Methods in Social Relations. (4th Ed.). New York: Holt.

Bem, D. J. (1982). Persons, situations and template matching: Theme and variations. In M. P. Zanna, C. P. Herman, & E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Consistency in Social Behavior: The Ontario Symposium. Potomoc, Md.: Erlbaum.

Bem, D. J. (1983). Further deja vu in the search for cross-situational consistency: A response to Mischel and Peake. Psychological Review, 90, 390-393.

Bem, D. J. (1983). Toward a response style theory of persons in situations. In R. A. Dienstbier & M. M. Page (Eds.), Nebraska Symposium on Motivation 1982: Personality--Current Theory and Research (Vol. 30). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Bem, D. J. (1983). Constructing a theory of the triple typology: Some (second) thoughts on nomothetic and idiographic approaches to personality. Journal of Personality, 51, 566-577.

Bem, D. J. (1987). Writing the empirical journal article. In M. P. Zanna & J. M. Darley (Eds.), The compleat academic: A practical guide for the beginning social scientist (pp. 171-201). New York: Random House.

Caspi, A., Elder, G. H., Jr., & Bem, D. J. (1987). Moving against the world: Life-course patterns of explosive children. Developmental Psychology, 22, 303-308.

Bem, D. J. (1988) Review of N. Baruch (Ed.) "Scientific Aspects of Graphology: A Handbook." Contemporary Psychology, 33, 172.

Bem, D. J. (1988). Putting persons back into the context. In N. Bolger, A. Caspi, G. Downey, & M. Moorehouse (Eds.), Persons in context: Developmental processes (pp. 203-216). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Caspi, A., Elder, G. H., Jr., & Bem, D. J. (1988). Moving away from the world: Life-course patterns of shy children. Developmental Psychology, 24, 824-831.

Caspi, A., Bem, D. J., & Elder, G. H., Jr. (1989). Continuities and consequences of interactional styles across the life course. Journal of Personality, 57, 375-406.

Bem, D. J. (1989). Parapsychological data: A continuing projective test. Review of Stanley Krippner (Ed.) Advances in Parapsychological Research (Vol. 5.) Contemporary Psychology, 34, 649-650.

Publications 1990-1999:

Atkinson, R., Atkinson, R. C., Smith, E. E., & Bem, D. J. (1990). Introduction to psychology (10th ed.). San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Caspi, A., & Bem, D. J. (1990). Personality continuity and change across the life course. In L. A. Pervin (Ed.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (pp. 549-575). New York: Guilford Press.

Bem, D. J. (1992). On the uncommon wisdom of our lay personality theory. Psychological Inquiry, 3, 82-84.

Bem, D. J. (1992). Review of R. S. Broughton, Parapsychology: The Controversial Science. Journal of Parapsychology, 56, 59-62.

Atkinson, R., Atkinson, R. C., Smith, E. E., & Bem, D. J. (1993). Introduction to psychology (11th ed.). San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Bem, D. J., & Honorton, C. (1994). Does psi exist? Replicable evidence for an anamolous process of information transfer. Psychological Bulletin, 115, 4-18.

Bem, D. J. (1994). Response to Hyman. Psychological Bulletin, 115, 27-27.

Bem, D. J. (1994). The Ganzfeld Experiment. Journal of Parapsychology, 57, 101-110.

Bem, D. J. (1994, August). Does Psi Exist? The World & I, 215-219.

Bem, D. J. (1995). Writing a review article for Psychological Bulletin. Psychological Bulletin, 118, 172-177.

Atkinson, Atkinson, Smith, E. E., Bem, D. J., & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (1996). Introduction to psychology (12th ed.). San Diego: Harcourt Brace.

Bem, D. J. (1996). Ganzfeld phenomena. In G. Stein (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the paranormal (pp. 291-296). Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books.

Bem, D. J. (1996). Exotic becomes erotic: A developmental theory of sexual orientation. Psychological Review, 103, 320-335.

Bem, D. J. (1996). Exotic becomes erotic: A political postscript. Unpublished manuscript, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Kerr, M., Lambert, W. W., & Bem, D. J. (1996). Life course sequelae of childhood shyness in Sweden: Comparison with the United States. Developmental Psychology, 32, 1100-1105.

Bem, D. J. (1997). The exotic-becomes-erotic theory of sexual orientation. In J. Corvino (Ed.), Same sex: Debating the ethics, science, and culture of homosexuality (pp. 121-134). New York: Rowman & Littlefield.

Bem, D. J. (1998). Is EBE theory supported by the evidence? Is it androcentric? A reply to Peplau et al. Psychological Review,105, 395-398.

Bem, D. J. (1997, August). Exotic becomes erotic: Explaining the enigma of sexual orientation. Invited address presented at the meeting of the American Psychological Association, Chicago.

Honorton, C., Ferrari, D. C., & Bem, D. J. (1999). Extraversion and ESP performance: A meta-analysis and a new confirmation. The Journal of Parapsychology, 62, 255-276.

Publications 2000-2010:

Bem, D. J. (2000). Exotic Becomes Erotic: Integrating Biological and Experiential Antecedents of Sexual Orientation. In A. R. D'Augelli & C. J. Patterson (Eds.), Lesbian, gay, and bisexual identities and youth: Psychological perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press.

Atkinson, Atkinson, Smith, E. E., Bem, D. J., & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2000). Introduction to psychology (13th ed.). Fort Worth: Harcourt College Publishers.

Bem, D. J. (2000). Writing an Empirical Article. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Guide to publishing in psychology journals. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Bem, D. J. (2000). Exotic Becomes Erotic: Interpreting the biological correlates of sexual orientation. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 29, 531-548.

Smith, E. E., Bem, D. J., & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2001). Fundamentals of psychology. Fort Worth: Harcourt College Publishers.

Bem, D. J., Palmer, J., Broughton, R. S. (2001). Updating the Ganzfeld Database: A Victim of Its Own Success? Journal of Parapsychology, 65, 207-218.

Bem, D. J. (2001) Is half an interactional theory still an interactional theory? A review of Kauth's True Nature: A Theory of Sexual Attraction. The Journal of Sex Research, 38, 263-265.

Bem, D. J. (2003). Writing the empirical journal article. In J.M. Darley, M. P. Zanna, & H. L. Roediger III (Eds), The Compleat Academic. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
[An updated version of this article will be found here]
Bem, D. J. (2005). Review of G. E. Schwartz, The afterlife experiments: Breakthrough scientific evidence of life after death. Journal of Parapsychology, 69, 173-183.

Bem, D. J. (2004) Review of Sheldrake’s The sense of being stared at: And other aspects of the extended mind. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 18, 491-493.

Bem, D. J. (2005). Review of Schwartz’s The Afterlife Experiments: Breakthrough scientific evidence of life after death. Journal of Parapsychology, 69, 173-183.

Bem, D. J. (2006). Review of Journal of Consciousness special issue: “Sheldrake and His Critics: The Sense of Being Stared At.” Journal of Scientific Exploration, 20, 322-324.

Bem, D. J. (2008). Is there a causal link between childhood gender nonconformity and adult homosexuality? Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health, 12, 61-79.

Bem, D. J., Utts, J., & Johnson, W. O. (2011). Must psychologists change the way they analyze their data? A response to Wagenmakers, Wetzels, Borsboom, & van der Maas (2011).

Bem, D. J. (2010). Response to Alcock's "Back from the Future: Comments on Bem."

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