Social Psychology | Department of Psychological Sciences | Kent State University

About the Social Psychology Program

The social psychology program at Kent State University is an active and vibrant group of faculty and students who use social psychological theory and state-of-the-art research methods to understand real-world issues, especially those with implications for physical health and psychological well-being.  Each faculty member has a distinctive research program, but they share a common interest in understanding how people’s personality and social environments shape their psychological and physical health.  The research labs in the social program have particular strengths in topics such as interpersonal relationships, health behavior, and well-being.

NEWS: Our social psychology program was recently ranked as one of the top social psychology programs in terms of research impact (Nosek et al., Sept 2010, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin).

Research Training in Social Psychology

The social psychology program is designed to train students in conducting and communicating high-quality psychological research.  As a graduate student in the social psychology program, you will have the opportunity to collaborate closely with one or more faculty members in ongoing research projects, from conception to publication.  In the first year, students begin a research project under the supervision of one of the faculty.  Often, this first year research project broadens into the topic of a masters’ thesis.  As students progress through the graduate program, they are encouraged to pursue additional collaborative and independent research projects, culminating in a dissertation project that reflects the students’ unique interests and expertise.

In their first two years, graduate students take a number of graduate courses and seminars that cover current research in social and health psychology, research methods, and advanced statistical methods.  Graduate students learn how to use observational, survey, and experimental methods to conduct research in both the field and laboratory.  Many students in the social program also elect to gain additional training by pursuing minors in health and/or quantitative psychology.

Faculty and students in the social program also meet regularly for the “social brownbag”.  In the brownbag, students and faculty present research ideas, learn about current research trends, review journal articles, and discuss issues relevant to professional and career development.

Graduate Courses in Social Psychology

  • Social Psychology
  • Psychology of Risk Communication
  • Health Behavior and Health Behavior Change
  • Psychological Perspectives on Well-Being
  • Psychobiological Aspects of Health Psychology

Core Faculty

Note: Drs. Gere, Taber, Updegraff and van Dulmen are all accepting applications for incoming graduate students for Fall 2018.

Dr. Judith Gere - Well-being; pursuit of goals (e.g., career goals, health goals, relationship goals) in the context of romantic relationships; research methods and analysis (e.g., structural equation modeling).

Dr. Jennifer Taber - Effective interventions and health communications to increase health behavior performance; behavioral and psychosocial aspects of genetic and genomic testing; risk perceptions and risk communications.

Dr. John Updegraff - Health communication and health behavior; self-regulation and pursuit of health goals; social cognition and health.

Dr. Manfred van Dulmen - Adolescent and young adult sexual/romantic relationships and experiences; methodology and measurement.

Faculty with Related Interests
  • Dr. Karin Coifman (Adult Psychopathology) studies emotion processing and regulatory strategies within the context of stress.
  • Dr. Joel Hughes (Clinical Health) studies how psychosocial factors such as hostility and depression increase cardiovascular risk.
  • Dr. Kathryn Kerns (Developmental) - Children's attachments to parents and the implications of attachment for children's peer relationships and emotional development.
Recent Social Ph.D.'s

Our social program has been particularly successful in placing our graduates in postdoctoral training programs and professorships.

Here’s what some of our recent grads are doing now.

  • Susanne Biehle, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor, DePauw University
  • Shannon Claxton, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor, Morningside College
  • Nate Deichert, Ph.D. - Associate Professor, Black Hills State University
  • Brian Don, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor, California Lutheran
  • Amber Emanuel, Ph.D. - Department of Health Education and Behavior, University of Florida
  • Erin Fekete, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor, University of Indianapolis
  • Kristel Gallagher, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor, Thiel College
  • Rachel Hemphill, Ph.D. - Program Officer, Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)
  • Cynthia Khan, Ph.D. - Data Scientist, Econometrica
  • Sean Rife, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor, Murray State University
  • Jason Seacat, Ph.D. - Associate Professor at Western New England College
  • Stacey Williams, Ph.D. - Associate Professor, East Tennessee State University
  • Sharon Claffey, Ph.D. - Associate Professor, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
  • Tina Norton, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor, Lycoming College
  • Melanie Tabak, Ph.D. - Associate Professor, Kent State University at Trumbull