In loving memory of Professor Scott Lilienfeld
Over the course of more than three decades, Scott Lilienfeld provided the psychopathy field lenses through which to see its problems, instruments to provide solutions to those problems, and theoretical rigor to challenge the field's thinking. Throughout his career Scott highlighted the importance of sceptical thinking and willingness to critically examine assumptions in the face of new data. We have been fortunate to have such an intellectual giant shaping our field.
Some of Scott’s initial papers highlighted why self-reports of psychopathy correlated weakly with each other: They covered various features of psychopathy incompletely, often focusing on antisocial behaviors rather than the personality dispositions underpinning psychopathy. His Psychopathic Personality Inventory (PPI) wove together the strands of decades of theorizing on psychopathy into a comprehensive measure of the psychopathic personality. Beyond developing the PPI, his work demonstrated how psychopathy, psychopathology, and personality are manifestations of the same fundamental processes; separated key features of psychopathy into their constituent and mechanistic parts; and sought to examine psychopathy's manifestations in real-world contexts. The numerous honors and awards he received, including the Society for Scientific Study of Psychopathy Robert D. Hare Lifetime Achievement Award, all reflect the importance and impact of his work.
Perhaps even greater than Scott's intellectual impact, was his kindness and mentorship for those in the field. He guided his students on their professional paths, helping them to attain success along their own tracks. He frequently gave of his time and good company to those who sought it. He generously provided career advice, letters of recommendation, and perspectives on the field and its history to those who asked. He also graciously served our society as board member and as president. He has helped guide the society’s path, growth, and promise to provide a home to vigorous and respectful scholarly debate. And with his vivid and fascinating stories about the roots of psychopathy research, he made sure that we would learn to imagine the future of psychopathy research by remembering its past.
Scott Lilienfeld's light has brightened our field, which examines the darkest aspects of humanity. May his example continue to illuminate those who seek truth about psychopathy and so many other scholarly and human matters.