How individuals create their own social worlds is the over-arching theme of my programs of research. Understanding these processes has involved theoretical and empirical inquiries into the linkages among personality, motivation, and social behavior.

Specifically, I have been concerned with the processes by which individuals construct and enact motivational 'agendas for action' that draw upon and integrate features of their personal identities and their social settings, and that guide and direct their pursuit of relevant life outcomes in diverse domains of functioning.

The investigative strategy that I employ constitutes something of a marriage between personality and social psychology. It brings together personality's concern with the psychology of the individual and social psychology's focus on the influence of the situation in coordinated programs of basic and applied research, conducted in laboratory and field settings, on the motivational foundations of individual and social behavior.

In these programs of research, my colleagues and I are addressing matters of functioning within individuals (which we have examined in studies of self and identity), between individuals (which we have investigated in studies of social interaction sequences), and in the context of groups and collectives (which we have studied in the context of voluntary action in response to societal problems)..

Much of this research is conducted within the Center for the Study of the Individual and Society, a research center at the University of Minnesota dedicated to understanding how and why people become actively involved in doing good for others and for society. Such involvement can take the form of participation in volunteerism and philanthropy, social activism, community and neighborhood organizations, social and political movements. Among the questions being addressed are: Why do individuals become involved in such pro-social action? What sustains their involvement over time? What are the consequences of such action for individuals and for society? Research relevant to these concerns can and does have a basic/theoretical or applied/action-oriented focus, or both, and is being conducted with the investigative strategies of both social psychology and personality psychology.

Educational Background & Specialties
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Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: , Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 1972 - none
  • B. A.: , McGill University, , 1968 -

Specialties

  • social power
  • altruism and pro-social behavior
  • attitudes and persuasion
  • interpersonal behavior
  • personality and social interaction
  • self-monitoring processes
  • social and psychological aspects of volunteerism and social action
  • social influence
  • social perception