Lazurus obtained his BA in 1942 from the City College of New York. After military service in World War II, he returned to graduate school in 1946, obtained his doctorate at Pittsburgh in 1948, taught at Johns Hopkins and Clark Universities, then came to Berkeley in 1957, where he has remained.
Lazurus's research career at Johns Hopkins and Clark centred on 'new look' experiments on motivated individual differences in perception. Among other research topics such as perceptual defence and studies of projective methods, he did research on autonomic discrimination without awareness (which he and McCleary called 'Subception').
At Berkeley, after forming the Berkeley Stress and Coping Project, he mounted efforts to generate a comprehensive theoretical framework for psychological stress and undertook much programmatic research based on these formulations, pioneering the use of motion picture films to generate stress reactions naturalistically in the laboratory. Later he shifted to field research and a systems theoretical point of view. His theoretical and research efforts contributed substantially to what has been called the 'cognitive revolution' in psychology.
He has been honoured in many ways for his scholarly contributions. The most important honours include the 1989 Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association, and two honorary doctorates, one in 1988 form Johannes Gutenburg University in Mainz, Germany, the other in 1995 from Haifa University in Israel.
Lazurus has published over 200 scientific articles and 23 books, both monographs and textbooks in personality and clinical psychology. In 1996. Psychological Stress and the Coping Process, which is now considered a classic, appeared. In 1984, with Folkman, he published Stress, Appraisal, and Coping, which continues to have world-wide influence. In 1991, he published Emotion and Adaptation, which presents a cognitive-motivational-relational theory of the emotions. In 1994 he and his wife Bernice published Passion and Reason: making sense of our emotions.
He became Professor Emeritus at Berkeley in 1991, in which status he continues to write and publish research on stress, coping, and the emotions. He and his wife are now working on a book on ageing and the emotions it brings.
Written by: Richard Lazarus