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Program Director: Daniel Molden

Northwestern University’s Social Psychology Program allows its members to study the cognitive, affective, attitudinal, and motivational underpinnings of social behavior.  Using a variety of methodological strategies ranging from the observation of interpersonal interactions to computerized reaction-time tasks to examination of neural activity, students and faculty explore behavior. Much of our research is organized around the following five themes:

  1. Prejudice, stereotyping, and intergroup relations – understanding how the members of different social groups perceive, evaluate, and interact with one another, including the psychological factors contributing to intergroup conflict and its amelioration.
  2. Interpersonal attraction, belonging, and relationships – examining how the social world shapes individual identities and how individuals navigate the demands and opportunities posed by new relationship opportunities and by interdependence in close relationships with others.
  3. Gender-based and cultural variations in social behavior – investigating the origins, nature, and consequences of sex differences and cultural differences in social behavior.
  4. Judgment and decision- making – exploring the underpinnings of preferences and choices, particularly as they are influenced by social-contextual, motivational, and affective variables.
  5. Self-regulation – discerning how people set and pursue their goals, including goals for smooth interracial interaction, well-adjusted romantic relationships, academic achievement, physical fitness, and so forth.

The Social Psychology Program affords students the opportunity to explore these central themes of social psychological inquiry in ways that are tailored to their own particular interests. Students commonly explore more than one of these themes in their graduate research.