Anthony Pratkanis, 2009 Alumnus of the Year

pratkanisAnthony Pratkanis, 52, a 1979 EMU graduate with majors in psychology, sociology and social work, received EMU’s 2009 “alumnus of the year” award during the Sunday morning worship service of homecoming and family weekend.

The award is presented annually to a graduate who has been recognized for significant achievement in their profession, community or church.

Dr. Pratkanis has been a professor of psychology at the University of California at Santa Cruz since 1987, where he has been cited for teaching excellence. He earned a PhD in social psychology from Ohio State University in 1984 and began his career in the business school at Carnegie-Mellon University, where he taught popular courses in advertising and consumer behavior.

Pratkanis co-authored with Elliot Aronson a best-selling book, Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion (Holt Paperbacks, revised edition, 2001), a thorough overview of how individuals and the mass media use devious persuasive techniques to manipulate others. He has been cited or has been interviewed in the mass media on numerous occasions and his research has been translated into 10 languages.

Pratkanis’ research has investigated such topics as the delayed effects of persuasion, attitudes and memory, groupthink, affirmative action, subliminal persuasion, mass communications, source credibility and persuasion and democracy. His research has been translated into 10 languages.

Over the last 10 years, Pratkanis has worked with nationwide organizations, various civic groups and law enforcement agencies on strategies for preventing economic fraud crimes. He received a Telly Award in 2002 for his work as a scientific consultant on AARP’s video, “Weapons of Fraud.” He has testified before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission about what can be done to prevent economic fraud crimes.

Pratkanis has also served as an expert witness in court cases, including on behalf of the State of Oregon in their case against Publisher’s Clearing House and the State of California in their cases againstMCI/Worldcom and Cingular Wireless.

At the beginning of this year, he was called by the State of Vermont to testify in their case against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, which made the claim that their Eclipse cigarettes were a “safer way to smoke.” The verdict in this case is still pending.

He has also served as a consultant on persuasion and influence to two U.S. Presidential campaigns, various ballot races and to government agencies on countering the propaganda of terrorists and dictators and on reducing conflict in war zones.

Concerning his undergraduate days, Pratkanis said, “I received an outstanding education at EMC, as we called it back then, from some very dedicated teachers. That education has served me well over the last 30 years.”

Pratkanis is married to Marlene Turner Pratkanis and they have a son, Tony Turner Pratkanis.

Published Aug. 2009.