Two of the golden threads woven through the tapestry of Harry Reis’s science are a critical understanding that relationships serve as the context of human behavior and the recognition that everyday experiences matter a great deal. Regarding the first thread, early on in his illustrious career, Harry appreciated that it is not merely an interesting footnote that the root of the word social means companionship and home life; rather he noted that the vast majority of social life involves people who know each other reasonably well, exist in a network of acquaintances, have a history of interactions, and expect to interact again in the future. Regarding the second thread, Harry has convincingly advocated for an approach to science that includes observing phenomenon and testing theories in the context of everyday life; an approach that complements the control of laboratory experiments with studies of life as it unfolds in all of its mundane and exceptional glory.
Harry was born to a family of immigrants from Germany and grew up in The City (New York City, of course) where he attended the Bronx High School of Science, the City College of New York as an undergraduate, and NYU for his Ph.D. Harry then left the city to venture way upstate to begin his career as an Assistant Professor at the University of Rochester and never left. He is currently Professor of Psychology and the Dean's Professor in Arts, Sciences, and Engineering. Over his career he has contributed more than 250 papers (and counting!) to the literature.
In 1988, Harry and his collaborator Phil Shaver introduced the interpersonal model of intimacy in which they described intimacy as evolving from a process of coming to feel understood, validated, and cared for by another person. In the last 30 years, the construct of responsiveness has become a central, unifying construct in relationship science as more and more evidence points to the role responsiveness plays in social interactions, close relationships, health and well-being. In this and related work, Harry has contributed pioneering findings on topics such as loneliness, social support, capitalization, compassion, need fulfillment, and relationship quality. Harry added a powerful tool to researchers’ toolbox through his development of and advocacy for daily experience methods, which have been major contributions not only to social psychology but behavioral science more broadly.
Harry Reis has served our field in numerous other ways as well. He was a member of the team that created the Foundation for Personality and Social Psychology, he served as an editor for major journals, and has held key leadership positions in many professional organizations. Among his many accolades Harry has received the Career Contribution Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology and the Distinguished Career Award from the International Association for Relationship Research. He is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, the Society for Experimental Social Psychology, and APA, and has been a Fulbright Senior Research Fellow and a Fellow of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies. He has received two Distinguished Service awards from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology and the Georgen Award for Distinguished Achievement and Artistry in Teaching from the University of Rochester. And now, he a distinguished member of the Heritage Wall of Fame.
- It’s a pleasure to celebrate Harry Reis’s fine character and many accomplishments. We first met as assistant professors in the early 1970s, and our paths continued to cross throughout the following decades: collaborating on an influential theoretical model of intimacy (first conceived in notes on a napkin in a hotel dining room in Batavia, New York, halfway between our then respective residences in Buffalo and Rochester, and later fleshed out between dart games at his house); participating in a creative relationship-research discussion group when Harry spent a sabbatical year at the University of Denver (where I had met my wife Gail a few years before and Harry then met his wife-to-be Ellen); participating in the creation and expansion of the close-relationships research field. Harry has excelled all along the way: conducting innovative and influential research; mentoring students and colleagues; explaining and applying advanced statistical methods; writing comprehensive, integrative reviews; editing professional journals and books; and playing key roles in professional organizations. Along the way he has been consistently reliable, courageous yet modest, welcomingly collaborative, and warmly good-humored. Our field owes him a great deal.
- Harry stands out as an exemplar of an ideal social psychologist (and of science and life more generally) in so many ways. Of course there is his amazing productivity of important innovations, ranging from methodology (e.g., Rochester Interaction Record and everything else it inspired), to deep theoretical contributions (e.g., his ground breaking work on responsiveness), to findings with immediate practical applications (e.g., capitalization). Indeed, he has abundant publications in all the major journals. And in the midst of this great productivity, he has taken on major leadership roles (e.g., President of SPSP), editorships of major journals (e.g., JPSP) and editing influential books (e.g., Handbook of Research Methods in Social Psychology). But even more striking is that along with all this, he lives his findings, especially responsiveness. He is a wonderful collaborator (I don’t know anyone who answers emails more quickly!) and friend (such understanding, validation, and caring). Indeed, he connects so very deeply with everyone at a conference; I have had the privilege of sharing rooms with him at many conferences and pre- and post-conference adventures with our small group (“Gang of Five,” originally Harry, Margaret Clark, John Holmes, myself, and Caryl Rusbult—now with her loss, Joanne Wood). And on top of all that, he exemplifies close relationship research by his strong connection with and deep support of his wife and daughter. What a mensch!
- Harry Reis has not only been a leading scholar in the field of interpersonal relations for over forty years, but more than anyone else, he has been a major force in helping this field develop and establish a firm and coherent identity. He has accomplished this by being a “renaissance man,” exploring a rich diversity of topics. He has been both a superb theoretician and extremely talented researcher, so often anticipating the direction of the field on such topics as intimacy processes, perceived partner responsiveness, and capitalization dynamics. Harry is also an extremely creative methodologist. He has been a pioneer in developing novel statistical and methodological approaches, starting early in his career with his focus on within-person variation across time through the use of daily diaries. Our field is now probably the most sophisticated and technical in psychology in analytical approaches, a far cry from the early stereotype of the area as soft-hearted and soft-minded. Harry deserves much credit for this. Importantly, he is someone who has acted like the “glue” for the field, connecting the disparate parts and helping meld a vibrant community of scholars. Harry served as Editor of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in the early years of our field, giving it some prominence and heft. He has linked with the giants in the field, publishing an important Psychological Bulletin overview paper with Ellen Berscheid and a book on Interdependence Theory with Hal Kelley. He strongly supported the careers of many younger scholars, such as Shelly Gable, Sandra Murray, Nancy Collins, Chip Knee and Eli Finkel. And finally, as a diplomat, he successfully encouraged the merger of two relationship research groups into the IARR structure. Last but not least, Harry has been a dear friend and supportive colleague for such a long time, partly through the wonderful peer group we first developed as young scholars, the “Group of Five,” with Harry, Art Aron, Peggy Clark, Caryl Rusbult and me, and more recently, Joanne Wood. Harry, it’s wonderful to celebrate your very considerable contributions to our field.
- Sometimes you just get lucky. I was extremely fortunate to have had Harry Reis as my mentor in graduate school; and my good fortune has continued over the years in the form of inspiring collaborations and a supportive friendship. Harry has enclyopedic knowledge of the literature, an uncanny grasp of methodological approaches, and the breadth of thinking to see the forest through the trees. He has contributed to the fields of relationship science and social and personality psychology directly through his scholarship and also indirectly by helping guide our organizations through his many hours of leadership and service. To me though, his greatest attribute is his deep concern for the welfare of those around him, a trait that I and others in his orbit have benefitted from over and over again and which shines through in his scholarship. Harry once confessed that when he was in junior high school, he kept charts of which people in his social group he felt more close to or more distant from across the days of the week. It seems Harry has always been Harry and our field is also quite lucky for that.
- Harry has been a hero of mine since I was in graduate school. His methodological contributions are legion, and his research program on responsiveness (especially his 1988 responsiveness chapter with Phil Shaver) is among the most essential in all of relationship science. On a more personal note, he has served as a surrogate mentor to me since 2010, when my own mentor, Caryl Rusbult, died of cancer at age 57. It’s hard to imagine what my career would be like without him.”
- Harry is a pillar of relationship science. He is a top theoretician, a brilliant methodologist, a gifted writer, an extraordinary role model, and a great source of inspiration. I have been very fortunate to have Harry as a mentor, a collaborator, and a friend. There is nothing I enjoy more than brainstorming with Harry; I feel the sparks fly, the wheels of thought spin, and the birth of a new study. Not only has Harry opened our eyes on how intimacy works, for example, but he is also a master of instilling a sense of intimacy and being truly responsive in real life. Harry has had a tremendous impact on my work as well on my personal life, as he had been there for me when I went through a crisis and needed him most.”
It was my good fortune to have Harry as my mentor in graduate school. He’s had a profound impact on my life, both professional and personal. Harry was an inspiring mentor. He is a broad theoretical thinker. He has an incisive analytical ability. He is a rigorous methodologist. He is inventive. On top of all of that, he has a keen insight for what are the truly meaningful and important questions. He graciously shared his talents for science with me when I was a graduate student, and I am a better scholar for it. Not only is Harry a complete scholar, he’s a good human. In addition to welcoming me into his academic world, he welcomed me into his wonderful family – Ellen, Lianna, cats, gecko, fish, plants and all. Getting the chance to listen to his record collection when I house/pet sat for his family was another awesome perk. Harry studies responsiveness, and never fell short of being an understanding, validating, and caring mentor and friend, especially during particularly challenging parts of my life. Harry remains an inspiration to me and I am so grateful to know him.
When I was a graduate student in 2003 studying the role of self-disclosure in relationships, I first came across Harry Reis's 1988 chapter with Phil Shaver that laid out the foundational ideas of the interpersonal process model of intimacy. Reading that chapter changed the arc of my career. It is not an exaggeration to say that, outside of my graduate advisor Jamie Pennebaker, no other social psychologist has had as great an impact on how I think about social relationships. In addition to making important theoretical contributions to social psychology, Harry has always been at the cutting edge of research methodology. Using his Rochester Interaction Record to assess social interactions in daily life, Harry paved the way for others to investigate how relationships unfold outside of the lab. Those of us who study relationships owe Harry Reis a huge debt of gratitude for helping to bring relationship research from the fringe of social psychology to being one of the central research areas in our field. As an editor of JPSP and President of SPSP, Harry Reis moved relationship science to the forefront of social psychology. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to get to know Harry over the past decade, spending a few days with him at the Fetzer Institute in 2009 and having meals with him in far-flung places such as Granada, Spain. Harry is a funny, engaging and delightful dinner companion. Our recent conversations, as often as they turn to research, often turn to our shared love of wine (I hope we will drink those vintage bottles one of these years!). I can't think of a person more deserving to be on the SPSP Heritage Wall of Fame. Thank you, Harry!
Hard to imagine a better scholar AND colleague than Harry Reis. I feel so fortunate to have had him as a part of my academic life, from its inception to today. So supportive and so positive for so many years – in graduate school, as a new assistant professor, and now as a not-so-new professor. The depth and generativity of his thinking, the creativity of his ideas, and the warmth of his character come together to form a wonderful person and an exceptional social psychologist. You’re the best, Harry – Congratulations on this very, very appropriate honor!
“I have been fortunate enough in my life to be able to say that Harry Reis was my graduate advisor. I first read his 1988 paper with Phil Shaver when I was an undergrad in Peggy Clark's upper-division relationships seminar, and at the time I was also conducting an honors thesis with Brooke Feeney on self-disclosure and intimacy. My memory of finishing reading the paper during this time in my life is vivid. I put the paper down, placed it underneath a stack of papers on my desk, and thought to myself, "this can't be real and I can't deal with this right now." It was the most integrative paper I had read up to that point on self-disclosure as a cornerstone of intimacy, and as such it seemed to answer every single question that my curious mind had concocted up to that point based on what I had read so far. I was simultaneously mesmerized by its implications and terrified that it nullified my career as a researcher. I knew I had to learn from the man who wrote that paper. I was lucky enough to be able to do so. Of course, working with Harry was one of the most challenging but rewarding periods of my life. As the field knows, he is a brilliant researcher, a rigorous methodologist, and a wise and forward-thinking theorist. He deserves recognition as much as anybody else that I know in the field, and I consider myself lucky to have been able to learn from him directly.
Harry Reis is an inspirational researcher, teacher, and mentor. His research has shaped the field and his teaching and mentorship have influenced countless students. He embodies his research, demonstrating responsiveness in his interactions with students. I was very fortunate to get to work in his lab as an undergraduate honors student and he inspired me to become a relationship researcher. He has helped me in so many ways, from challenging me to truly understand my data to writing countless letters of recommendation to providing advice as I applied for grad school and then postdocs and faculty positions. Harry's support and example have shaped my career and I am very grateful to him.
Harry’s scholarship – for example, his interpersonal process model of intimacy with Phil Shaver, theory of perceived partner responsiveness as an organizing principle in close relationships research, and of course the Rochester Interaction Record – left indelible marks in my mind the first time I interacted with them. Exposure to this work transformed my research career, provided the foundation for my initial work, and these themes are unmistakably interwoven into the theorizing and methods I use in much of my body of research to this day. I know I am not alone – the impact of Harry’s work in the themes of so many of us in the field is both deep and broad; I am deeply grateful for his contributions.
Far beyond Harry’s scholarship, though, I have appreciated getting to know Harry over the years, first as an early champion of young scholars of positive psychology, then in my interactions with him at various conferences – always engaged, curious, enthusiastic, and supportive. Two distinct themes have emerged in my admiration for Harry during this time – one is that he always seems to be looking for innovative opportunities to support our next generation of scholars, for example through formal training and networking opportunities, and another involves his continuous efforts to enhance the visibility of relationship science, for example by educating our colleagues in the field about its contributions and position across various subdisciplines within psychological science. This broad and future-oriented strategic thinking is yet another way that so many of us have benefitted from Harry’s contributions, and will benefit for years to come. Thank you, Harry. Can’t wait to see what comes next!