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Adam Waytz receives University’s 2022 Walder Award

Researcher studies the value of human connection in an increasingly automated world
Adam Waytz is interested in questions that help us understand how people perceive other humans, machines and anthropomorphic objects and the implications of those interactions, and in finding ways to improve people’s treatment of one another and experience of technology.

Adam Waytz, a professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School of Management, has received the 21st annual Martin E. and Gertrude G. Walder Award for Research Excellence.

The award, which is conferred by the provost and comes with a $15,000 grant, recognizes Waytz’s pivotal work studying how people engage with others’ humanity, including his insights into some of modern society’s most insidious problems — such as increasing loneliness, automation and polarization — and ideas for how we might improve people’s well-being in the face of these challenges.

“Professor Waytz’s work, which helps us understand how to stay connected, compassionate and ethical while thriving in our new digital world, has never been more important,” said Provost Kathleen Hagerty. “I’m delighted to present him with the 2022 Walder Award.”

Waytz uses methods from social psychology and cognitive neuroscience to study how people think about empathy, ethics and technology. He is the Morris and Alice Kaplan Chair in Ethics and Decision Management at Kellogg, and holds a courtesy appointment as a professor of psychology at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

“The best part of my job is being able to live in the world of ideas through my research,” Waytz said. “To actually receive an award for that makes it even sweeter.”

Waytz studies a broad range of topics, including geopolitical conflict, whistle-blowing, and psychological responses to automation. He is the author of “The Power of Human: How Our Shared Humanity Can Help Us Create a Better World” (W.W. Norton, 2019).

He is interested in questions that help us understand how people perceive other humans, machines and anthropomorphic objects and the implications of those interactions, and in finding ways to improve people’s treatment of one another and experience of technology.

He is the author or co-author of more than 50 peer-reviewed publications that have appeared in leading journals including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and Psychological Review. He has also written for general audiences in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Harvard Business Review and other distinguished publications.

The Walder Award was established in 2002 by alumnus Dr. Joseph A. Walder MD ’75 Ph.D. ’78 who founded a company that supplies synthetic DNA for research and clinical applications. The award recognizes and supports the work of one faculty member each year.

In addition to the Walder Award, Waytz has earned other prestigious prizes including the 2008 and 2013 Theoretical Innovation Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the SAGE Foundation Young Scholar Award, and the International Social Cognition Network's Early Career Award.