Social psychology and health

A medical professional wraps a bandage around the arm of a patient. The faculty of our program are actively engaged in research that assesses human health and well-being from a social-psychological perspective. Their areas of interest span a broad range, including:

  • adversity in childhood and adolescence;
  • cultural context of suicide;
  • emotional health;
  • grief and coping with loss ;
  • inter-partner violence;
  • religious participation and health;
  • sexual violence;
  • social context of chronic disease;
  • stigma and health;
  • the social-psychological processes behind social inequalities in health.

Social and personal relationships

 A close-up image of two people holding hands.Faculty research interests in the area of social and personal relationships focus on research issues related to the development, maintenance, and dissolution of human relationships. Topics span a broad range of issues looking at relationships within friendships, dating, intimacies, social networks, marriage, and family contexts as well as different life stages. Specific issues of interest include:

  • adolescent relationship perceptions;
  • cultural differences in relationship formation and dynamics;
  • infidelity and extra-dyadic relationships;
  • personality and relationships;
  • relationship resilience;
  • relationships and health;
  • romantic relationships;
  • sexual relationships;
  • social support;
  • the interface among gender, socialization, and relationships.

Social psychology and law/justice

Two people are talking before a jury box full of people in a courtroom. A large number of program faculty have an active research program in the area of social psychology and law. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • death penalty;
  • eyewitness testimony;
  • false confessions;
  • jury decision making;
  • juvenile justice;
  • law, justice, and health behavior;
  • sentencing decisions;
  • social context of crime;
  • social inequality in the justice system;
  • stress in the courtroom.

The Grant Sawyer Center for Justice Studies and the National Judicial College, both located on the University campus, afford students unique opportunities for assistantships and research on justice issues.

Social psychology and organizations

A group of people sit talking in a company boardroom.Several of our faculty members study human behavior as it applies to organizational contexts and related settings. Topics of interest span a broad range:

  • ethical decision making;
  • intergroup conflict;
  • cultural process und cross-cultural differences;
  • interpersonal networks;
  • personality and aggression;
  • corruption;
  • organizational stress;
  • person-environment fit.

Social Psychology, public policy and politics

Two people in an office reviewing paperwork together.Faculty of our program are actively engaged in research on social-psychological aspects of public policy and politics. These include public opinion concern social issues, specific policies and their effectiveness, interactions among elected officials as well as the dynamics of electoral politics. It also includes public responses to technology and their regulation. Current topics of interest include:

  • crime and crime control;
  • policy and legal regulation of families, reproduction, and sex;
  • political change in a hyperpartisan political landscape;
  • political corruption;
  • political ideology;
  • public opinions toward drones and technologies;
  • social-psychological bases of health care policy;
  • the emergence of populist movements;
  • well-being, ideology, and social inequality.

Developmental social psychology

A person reads a book to three children in a classroom.Several program faculty are engaged in research on the social-psychological aspects of human development. Expertise within the program ranges from early childhood to adult development, including late adulthood/social processes of aging, and considers development in a variety of social and cultural contexts. Current topics of interest include:

  • adolescent risk taking and victimization;
  • adult development and aging;
  • child and adolescent development in the context of P-12 schooling;
  • circadian rhythms and academic performance;
  • development of sleep-wake patterns in different sociocultural contexts;
  • emotion regulation in older adults;
  • positive youth development;
  • relationship development;
  • resiliency;
  • trauma and social development.

Gender, culture and diversity

Six hands hold each other's wrists to form a circle.  In a diverse world, social psychology does take into account that people differ on a number of different dimensions, including gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, social class, cultural background, gender identity, physical ability, age, religion, nationality, and political persuasion—to name only a few. The Interdisciplinary Social Psychology Ph.D. Program welcomes diversity and wishes to include members of underrepresented groups.

Some faculty members make diversity the explicit focus of their research, such as those who study gender, age or cultural differences. Others investigate the nature and implications of being a member of a particular group in a specific domain, such as health, relationships or law. Yet others study how changing levels of diversity are reflected in larger society and its institutions. Whether central to a particular research project or not, all faculty members do take this human diversity into account.

Our impact

News stories from social psychology and the departments that contribute to the program.

Markus Kemmelmeier points out examples on his computer of image samples used in his research study that address how the same photograph published in multiple newspapers portray skin tone differently.

Skin tone portrayed differently in newspapers depending on political endorsement

College of Liberal Arts professor studied how former President Barack Obama appeared in photographs

Confocal image of neurons

Journal of Neuroscience cover story features University neuroscience research

Assistant Professor Simon Pieraut’s paper was featured in the May 26 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience

Collage of the individual photos of the University's 7 CAREER awardees in 2021

Most ever CAREER Awards received by University faculty

7 awardees representing 4 colleges/school receive NSF’s prestigious award in support of early-career success and continued development