Marshall V. King | February 26, 2017
Lee Anna Clark, chair of Notre Dame’s Department of Psychology, will receive two lifetime achievement awards this year, reflecting the way in which her work has bridged two major areas of psychology.
The Society for Personality and Social Psychology presented her with the Jack Block Award for Distinguished Research in Personality in January. The Society for Research in Psychopathology will honor her with the Zubin Award later in the year.
Block was an icon in the field of personality psychology. Zubin was an authority on psychopathology.
“To me, it’s very special to get both of these awards in close proximity,” said Clark, the William J. and Dorothy K. O'Neill Professor of Psychology.
Known for her research on the assessment of personality disorder, including the development of the Schedule for Nonadaptive and Adaptive Personality (SNAP), a psychological test that measures personality traits across the normal-abnormal spectrum, Clark is one of the Institute for Scientific Information’s “most highly cited” psychologists.
After majoring in psycholinguistics and earning a master’s degree in Asian studies at Cornell University, she earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Minnesota.
As she was beginning her graduate school research, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 3rd edition (DSM) was published. The American Psychiatric Association publication is considered the “bible” in the field of psychiatry, and although that edition acknowledged the role of personality, Clark believed it fell short on how it addressed personality disorders.
“What I set out to do was to give the diagnosis of personality disorders more of a firm grounding in personality more generally,” she said. “To establish anything in science, you have to be able to measure it, so I began with developing a measure.”
Using what she learned at the University of Minnesota about creating measures, she spent the next decade developing one based on normal personality research, then extending that into personality pathology. Her goal was to move the DSM model from a categorical way of thinking about personality disorder to a more integrative, trait-based view of personality and its various problematic expressions.