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Social Psychology

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 adjustment to stress and influence 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
  • Personality
  • Psychosocial Aspects of Health Psychology
  • Health Behavior and Health Behavior Change
  • Psychological Perspectives on Well-Being
  • Psychobiological Aspects of Health Psychology
Core Faculty

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. Maryhope Howland Rutherford- Close relationships, focusing specifically on social support processes, empathic accuracy, and health.

Dr. Mary Ann Stephens - Coping, social support and psychological adjustment in response to chronic stress. Note: Dr. Stephens is Dean of Graduate Studies and is not accepting new graduate students.

Dr. John Updegraff - Health communication and health behavior; 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.
RecentSocial 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
  • Nate Deichert, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Black Hills State University
  • Amber Emanuel, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Florida
  • Erin Fekete, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Indianapolis
  • Kristel Gallagher, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor, Keystone College
  • Rachel Hemphill, Ph.D.,  Postdoctoral Fellow, Penn State University's Center for Healthy Aging
  • Cynthia Khan, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Jason Seacat, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Western New England College
  • Stacey Williams, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, East Tennessee State University
  • Sharon Claffey, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
  • Tina Norton, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Clarkson College
  • Melanie Tabak, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Kent State University at Trumbull
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