*Please select Cognitve, Developmental and Social Psychology in the online application.

The Social-Personality subarea focuses on theory-based basic and applied research. Students can be trained in a variety of experimental, survey research, and intervention methods and techniques, including alcohol administration, daily diaries, hormone assays, and implicit/automatic processing.

These research methods are used to address basic research questions in the areas of social cognition, close relationship processes, interpersonal violence, and personality processes. 

These research methods are also used to address applied research questions such as:

  • Do stress biomarkers mediate the relationship between risky family environments and negative health outcomes?
  • To what extent do personality traits, social investment and self-regulation influence one’s probability of engaging in excessive alcohol consumption?
  • What role does the unconscious aspect of self-regulation play in modulating dieting, consumer decision-making, risk-taking and addiction?
  • What are the processes underlying romantic relationship satisfaction and stability?
  • How do couples’ social networks (e.g., couple friendships) impact how happy people are in their relationships?
  • How do motivational and personality factors interact to predict individuals’ engagement in risk behavior (e.g., drunk driving, self-harm)?
  • What risk and protective factors predict men’s likelihood of committing acts of sexual aggression?
  • What is alcohol’s role in young adults’ sexual risk-taking? 
  • How do people decide if someone else is sexually attracted to them? 
  • How can personality trait standing be modified to improve health status?
  • How does social context affect individuals’ vulnerability to HIV risk behaviors?


Social-Personality Courses Offered in Recent Years

  • Social Psychology: Research and Theory
  • Social Cognition
  • Close Relationships
  • Health Psychology I: Theory and Basic Research
  • Health Psychology III: Biobases of Health Psychology
  • Personality
  • Attitude Theory and Attitude Change
  • Social Neuroscience
  • Evolutionary Psychology of Emotions
  • Seminar in Experimental Social Psychology (special topics)


Area Faculty with Social-Personality Research Focus

Prospective graduate students should review faculty profiles and contact potential advisors directly prior to submitting an application to ensure the faculty member is currently accepting new students.

Antonia Abbey, Professor and Area Chair
Ph.D., Northwestern University, 1982

Interests: Women's health, sexual assault, sexual risk-taking, alcohol’s role in sexual assault & sexual risk-taking; perceptions of sexual cues; substance abuse prevention.

Tim Bogg, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2006

Interests: Personality, motivation, and health-related behaviors; personality-informed interventions for improved health status.

Catalina Kopetz, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Maryland, 2007

Interests: Social cognition, self-regulation, motivation, goals, applications to health behaviors. 

Sheldon G. Levy, Professor
Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1963

Interests: Political psychology, collective behavior, mass media, quantitative correlates of war.

Richard Slatcher, Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin, 2007

Interests: Close relationships, personality, marriage and health, self-disclosure, intimacy processes in dating and marital relationships, stress, effects of family environments on child health

Stephanie Spielmann, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Toronto, 2013

Interests: Close relationships, breakups, adult attachment, fear of being single, emotional attachment to ex-partners, regulation of reward and threat in romantic relationships

Glenn E. Weisfeld, Professor
Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1978

Interests: Ethology and evolutionary psychology, dominance, marital satisfaction, adolescents.

Samuele Zilioli, Assistant Professor in Psychology and Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Science
Ph.D., Simon Fraser University, 2014

Interests: Social neuroendocrinology. Shedding light on the biopsychological mechanisms by which social status differences and related stressors affect health and behaviour.

Affiliated Faculty with Primary Appointment in Another Area

*Can be students’ co-advisor, not primary advisor


Todd Lucas, Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences
PhD., Wayne State University, 2005

Interests: Psychosocial and cross-cultural determinants of stress, health behavior, and wellbeing; social influence processes in communication





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