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Nalini Ambady (March 20, 1959 – October 28, 2013) was a social psychologist and a leading expert on nonverbal behavior and interpersonal perception.[1] She was a Professor at Stanford University in the Department of Psychology.

Nalini Ambady
Born(1959-03-20)March 20, 1959
DiedOctober 28, 2013(2013-10-28) (aged 54)
ResidenceUnited States
Alma materHarvard University
College of William and Mary
Known forthin slice judgments
AwardsAAAS Prize for Behavioral Science Research
Scientific career
InstitutionsStanford University
Tufts University
Harvard University
Doctoral advisorRobert Rosenthal


Early life and educationEdit

A native of the state of Kerala, India, Ambady did her schooling at the Lawrence School, Lovedale, and joined college at the Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Delhi. Subsequently, she moved to the United States for higher education, completing her M.A. in Psychology from The College of William and Mary, Virginia. She earned her Ph.D. in social psychology from Harvard University in 1991 under the guidance of Robert Rosenthal, with whom she researched thin slice judgments.[2][3]

Academic careerEdit

She held academic positions at Harvard University, Cambridge and the College of the Holy Cross, Massachusetts before being appointed as Professor in the Department of Psychology at Tufts University in 2004.[4] She subsequently moved to Stanford University, California in 2011. She was the first Indian-American woman to teach psychology at Harvard, Tufts, and Stanford.

Ambady specialized in the study of intuition. Her research found that humans perceive nonverbal cues in response to novel people or situations, and that the information gleaned from an instant impression is often as powerful as information gleaned by getting to know a situation or person over a longer period of time.[5] She and Robert Rosenthal coined the term "thin slices" to refer to such instantaneous non-verbal cues. Later, author Malcolm Gladwell referred extensively to Ambady's work in his popular book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.

One of Ambady's more well-known experiments asked students to watch silent 10-second videos of unfamiliar professors as they taught, and to rate the professors for likability, honesty, competence, and other qualities. The students' responses correlated remarkably well with similar ratings by students who had spent a full semester getting to know the professors' personalities and teaching qualities.[5]

During Ambady's appointment at Stanford, she founded SPARQ, the Center for Social Psychological Answers to Real-World Questions. The center's main aim is to apply knowledge from the field of social psychology to the improvement of society.[6][7]

Struggle with LeukemiaEdit

Ambady was diagnosed with leukemia in May 2004 but recovered after treatment. In 2011, the cancer recurred in a more aggressive form.[8] Her friends and family led an intensive worldwide campaign to find a compatible bone-marrow donor since they were unable to successfully locate any in existing bone-marrow registries. This was partly due to the low numbers of Indians on such registries worldwide and a limited base of donors numbering around 25,000 in the few Indian registries that exist.[9][10] Her plight sparked a global effort to increase participation in bone marrow registries among South Asian ethnic groups.[11] Though as many as thirteen potential donors were located over a period of time, many of them refused to go through with the transplant process after identification.[8]

Ambady died on October 28, 2013 at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.[5][12]

Awards and HonoursEdit


Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink. Back Bay Books. pp. 12, 43. ISBN 0-316-17232-4.
  2. ^ Ambady, Nalini; Robert, Rosenthal (1992). "Thin Slices of Expressive Behavior as Predictors of Interpersonal. Consequences: A Meta-Analysis" (PDF). Psychological Bulletin. 3 (2): 266–274. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.111.2.256. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  3. ^ Tannenbaum, Melanie. "Rest In Peace, Nalini Ambady". Scientific American. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  4. ^ Ambady, Nalini. "Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Tufts University. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d Fox, Margalit (4 November 2013). "Nalini Ambady, Psychologist of Intuition, Is Dead at 54". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  6. ^ "Ambady leaves behind legacy of influential research, respect for her students". Stanford Daily. 8 November 2013. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
  7. ^ "Nalini Ambady, Stanford psychology professor, dies at 54". Stanford News. 31 October 2013. Archived from the original on 4 December 2013. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
  8. ^ a b D'Souza, Dilip. "Will We Save Nalini Ambady?". Yahoo. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  9. ^ Efforts on to find bone marrow match for Nalini, Times of India, 2013, retrieved 2013-05-07
  10. ^ Teo, Niuniu (2013), Students organize to find bone marrow match for Prof. Nalini Ambady, Stanford, CA: Stanford University, retrieved 2013-05-07
  11. ^ Gaufberg, Liz (May 2013). "Saving Nalini: Leading Psychologist Seeks Bone Marrow Donor to Survive". WBUR.
  12. ^ "Bone marrow search fails, Stanford professor Nalini Ambady dies in US". Deccan Chronicle. 30 October 2013. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  13. ^ History & Archives: AAAS Prize for Behavioral Science Research

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit