Who Is Larry Jacoby?
Larry Jacoby is a major figure in the psychological science of human memory. Publish or Perish credits him with an H index of 63 and more than 18,000 citations (Google Scholar is more generous, at 67 and nearly 20,000, respectively). Jacoby is on the Thomson Reuters list of highly cited researchers. He has coauthored works with such luminaries as Dan Schacter (Harvard), Dave Balota (Wash U), Gus Craik (University of Toronto), John Dunlosky (Kent State), Laird Cermak (deceased, formerly of Boston U), Lee Brooks (deceased; formerly at McMaster), Mark McDaniel (Wash U.), and Robyn Dawes (deceased; formerly at Carnegie Melon); these are all, like Jacoby, individuals whose works are routinely cited in undergraduate texts introducing students to the seminal works of cognitive psychology. Jacoby’s past graduate and postdoctoral student include Andy Yonelinas, Diane St. Marie, Janine Jennings, Janine Hay, Jeff Toth, Karen Daniels, Matt Rhodes, and Steve Lindsay among many others.
PsychINFO lists 147 works by Jacoby. His first publication, in a now-defunct publication of the Psychonomic Society, was in 1967. Jacoby published steadily throughout the 1970s, producing a number of works that have attracted multiple citations (the most impactful being a 1978 article on how, when a problem is repeated, a person may solve it by remembering the prior solution; this insight had considerable impact). His next big hit was a 1981 article with Mark Dallas proposing that because having previously performed a cognitive process (e.g., reading a particular word in a particular font) makes it easier to repeat that process, the speed or fluency with which cognitive processes unfold is sometimes interpreted by the mind/brain a evidence of prior experience, thereby giving rise to a subjective feeling of familiarity. That article has nearly 900 citations and Jacoby’s ”attribution making” approach to familiarity spawned a great deal of research by dozens of investigators. A decade later, Jacoby developed the “process dissociation procedure,” a method for obtaining separate quantitative estimates of the concurrent contributions of two different sources of influence on task performance (e.g., conscious vs. unconscious perception; habit vs. intention; familiarity vs. recollection). That article has thousands of citations and its arguments have been tremendously influential. In recent years, Jacoby has concentrated his research on aging-related changes in automatic versus controlled uses of memory and has worked on the development of ways to rehabilitate memory. Despite a recent health crisis, Jacoby continues to be extraordinarily productive (e.g., PsychINO lists seven publications in 2012 so far).
Jacoby earned his undergraduate degree at Washburn University, and his MA and PhD at Southern Illinois University (the last of these in 1971). He was on the faculty of McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) for many years. He spent a year or two at the University of Utah on leave from McMaster. Later, he spent a year or two at the University of Texas at Austin and at NYU, then returned briefly to McMaster, and then moved to Washington University in St. Louis, where Roddy Roediger assembled a world-class department of psychology. Only superstars get to indulge in that kind of mobility.