Janet T Spence
Professor Emeritus — Ph. D., University of Iowa
Alma Cowden Madden Centennial and Ashbel Smith Professor Emerita
- Phone: (512) 471-1157 for contact information on Dr. Janet Spence
A major figure in American psychology, Janet Taylor Spence, who is now retired, is Alma Cowden Madden Professor of Liberal Arts and Ashbel Smith Professor of Psychology and Educational Psychology. Her distinguished research career focused on the interplay of motivational and individual differences in determining performance in both laboratory and real-life situations.
A 1949 Ph.D. from the University of Iowa, Dr. Spence's early work made seminal contributions to theories of the influence of anxiety on learning and performance, as well as the study of the effects of material incentives on intrinsic motivation. In the late 1960s, Dr. Spence turned her attention to gender research. Her major works in the area of gender include her ground-breaking book with Robert Helmreich, Masculinity and Femininity, influential articles in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and Psychology of Women Quarterly, and her 1985 article in the Nebraska Symposium on Motivation which first described her theory of gender identity.
Dr. Spence's work, whether in the field or the laboratory, is characterized both by its empirical rigor and its innovative theoretical approach. Her willingness to question the accepted led her to develop assessment techniques that continue to be used widely.
Dr. Spence holds the unique position of being the only person to be elected president of both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society.
Dr. Spence now lives in Cape Cod. She manages a variety of academic and editorial responsibilities, including her role as Editor of the Annual Review of Psychology. In her free time, she plans to increase her volunteer work in the public schools. An avid gardener and "beacher," Dr. Spence plans to continue these hobbies in the East Coast summer months.
Oral History Interview with Janet T. Spence
(Interviewed by James W. Pennebaker w/Ruth Pennebaker/June 2007)