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Henry Wellman
Regents' Proceedings

Henry Wellman, Ph.D., Harold W. Stevenson Collegiate Professor of Psychology and professor of psychology in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, retired from active faculty status on May 31, 2022.
Professor Wellman received his B.A. (1970) degree from Pomona College and his Ph.D. (1975) degree from the University of Minnesota. Professor Wellman joined the University of Michigan faculty as an assistant professor in 1977, and was promoted to associate professor in 1981, and professor in 1986.

Professor Wellman is one of the most important developmental psychologists of his generation and remains one of the most well-cited developmental psychologists today. He is a devoted and award-winning mentor and an outstanding teacher. His research helped establish a new and thriving field of study known as “theory of mind”, namely, how children come to understand the minds of others, with implications for our human ability to communicate, cooperate, make friends, and deceive others. He created robust methodological tools to assess the development of children’s social cognition from infancy through older childhood; these tools are used all around the world and have uncovered both universal patterns and culturally specific variation. He pioneered the study of mental state reasoning in infants, and of neuroimaging to discover which brain regions process these mental states. He examined the linguistic underpinnings to theory of mind in carefully selected populations (such as deaf children without access to sign language), and the role of parental input to these developments. He has studied children’s understanding of artificial minds (robots) and extraordinary minds (Gods). He has authored eight books and monographs and nearly 200 scientific papers.

Professor Wellman has received many honors throughout his career, including the G. Stanley Hall Award from the APA for distinguished contributions to developmental psychology, the Mentoring Award for Developmental Psychology from the American Psychological Association (APA), an NIH Merit Award, and book awards from the APA and the Cognitive Development Society. He served as president of the Cognitive Development Society and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The Regents now salute this distinguished faculty member by naming Henry Wellman, Harold W. Stevenson Collegiate Professor Emeritus of Psychology and professor emeritus of psychology.