Alexander J Rothman

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Psychology .
N321 Elliott Hall

75 E River Rd

My primary program of research concerns the application of social psychological theory to illness prevention and health promotion and is comprised of a synthesis of basic research on how people process and respond to health information with the development and evaluation of theory-based interventions to promote healthy behavior. Through this work, my colleagues and I engage with a diverse array of issues including, but not limited to, how people evaluate and process health-relevant information, why and when different health communication strategies (e.g., message framing) are most effective, specifying the decision processes that underlie the initiation and maintenance of behavior change, and delineating the mechanisms that underlie the effectiveness of behavioral interventions as well as the conditions under which they are most effective. We have also begun to pursue the integration of interpersonal processes and perspectives into prevailing models of health behavior, which have tended to take an intrapersonal perspective.

Our theoretical models have informed the design, implementation, and testing of interventions across a range of behavioral domains including smoking, diet, physical activity, and cancer screening. My collaborators and I are currently engaged in intervention trials targeting smoking cessation, physical activity and falls preventions in older adults, and the prescription of opioids. We have also begun to explore the implications of our models for predicting and promoting environmentally-friendly behaviors. Throughout this work, I have been a leading advocate for the need to forge tighter linkages between theories of health behavior and intervention practices and policies. I helped lead the Advanced Training Institute on Health Behavior Theory (sponsored by NCI/NIH/OBSSR) since its inception in 2004 and I currently co-chair an NCI sponsored working group (Cognitive, Affective, and Social Processes in Health) designed to enhance the impact of innovations in basic behavioral and social sciences on the design, evaluation, and dissemination of intervention strategies to promote healthful behavior. I also currently co-lead the NHLBI/NIH Accumulating Data to Optimally Predict Obesity Treatment (ADOPT) Core Measures Project.

I have served in a number of leadership positions. At the University of Minnesota, I served a five-year term as the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs. Outside the University, I served as President of the Society for Health Psychology (APA) and was the founding President of the Social Personality and Heath Network. I have also served as Associate Editor of Health Psychology Review and as a co-editor of several special issues including an issue of Health Psychology on theoretical innovations in social and personality psychology and their implications for health.

In recognition of my work, I received the APA 2002 Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Health Psychology and am a fellow of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, the Society for Health Psychology, the European Health Psychology Society, the Association of Psychological Science, and the Society of Personality and Social Psychology. In 2018 I received the University of Minnesota's award for Outstanding Contributions to Graduate and Professional Education and with this award was inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Teachers and named a Distinguished University Teaching Professor.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Yale University, 1993.


  • message framing
  • Initiation and Maintenance of Behavior Change
  • interventions to promote healthy behavior
  • health judgment and decision making
  • health behavior theory
  • Relationships and Health Behavior
  • Environmental Behavior Change
  • research methodology
Courses Taught
  • Psy 8209 - Research Methods in Social Psychology
  • Psy 5993 - Directed Study: Special Areas of Psychology and Related Sciences: Health Cognition and Behavior
  • Psy 5206 - Social Psychology and Health Behavior
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs (CLA): 2011 - 2016
  • President, Social Personality Health Network: 2010 - 2014
  • President, Society for Health Psychology (APA): 2014 - 2017
  • Co-Chair, Accumulating Data to Optimally Predict Obesity Treatment (ADOPT; NIH): 2016 - 2018
  • Co-Chair, Cognitive, Affective and Social Processes Workgroup (NCI): 2008- - Present
  • Rothman, A.J., & Salovey, P. (1997). Shaping perceptions to motivate healthy behavior: The role of message framing. Psychological Bulletin, 121, 3-19.
  • Weinstein, N.D., Rothman, A.J., & Sutton, S.R. (1998). Stage theories of health behavior. Health Psychology, 17, 290-299.
  • Rothman, A.J., & Kiviniemi, M. (1999). “Treating people with health information“: analysis and review of approaches to communicating health risk information. Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monographs, 25, 44-51.
  • Rothman, A.J., Martino, S.C., Bedell, B.T., Detweiler, J.B., & Salovey, P. (1999). The systematic influence of gain- and loss-framed messages on people’s interest in and use of different types of health behaviors. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 11, 1355-1369.
  • Rothman, Alexander John (2000). Toward a theory-based analysis of behavioral maintenance. Health Psychology, 19, 64-69.
  • Rothman, Alexander John (2004). Is there nothing more practical than a good theory?: Why Innovations and advances in health behavior change will arise if interventions are more theory-friendly. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 1, 11.
  • Rothman, A.J., Baldwin, A., & Hertel, A. (2004). Self-regulation and behavior change: Disentangling behavioral initiation and behavioral maintenance. The handbook of self-regulation, 130-148.
  • Finch, E.A., Linde, J.A., Jeffery, R.W., Rothman, A.J., King, C.M., & Levy, R.L. (2005). The effects of outcome expectations and satisfaction on weight loss and maintenance: Correlational and experimental analyses. Health Psychology, 24, 608-616.
  • Baldwin, A.S., Rothman, A.J., Hertel, A.W., Linde, J.A., Jeffery, R.W., Finch, E.A., & Lando, H. (2006). Specifying the Determinants of Behavior Change Initiation and Maintenance: An Examination of Self-Efficacy, Satisfaction, and Smoking Cessation. Health Psychology, 25, 626-634.
  • Rothman, A.J., Bartels, R.D., Wlaschin, J., & Salovey, P. (2006). The strategic use of gain- and loss-framed messages to promote healthy behavior: How theory can inform practice. Journal of Communication, 56, S202-S221.
  • Rothman, A.J., & Salovey, P. (2007). The reciprocal relation between principles and practice: Social psychology and health behavior. Social psychology: Handbook of basic principles (2nd Edition), 826-849,
  • Fuglestad, P., Rothman, A.J., & Jeffery, R.W. (2008). Getting there and hanging on: The effect of regulatory focus on performance in smoking and weight loss interventions. Health Psychology, 27, S260-S270.
  • Bartels, R., ^Kelly, K.M., & Rothman, A.J. (2010). Specifying the impact of behavior: An analysis of how and when message frames impact behavioral decision-making. Psychology & Health, 7, 821-838.
  • Joseph, A.M., Fu, S.S., Lindgren, B., Rothman, A.J., Kodl, M., Lando, H., Doyle, B., Hatsukami, D. (2011). Chronic Disease Management for Tobacco Dependence Improves Long-Term Abstinence from Smoking: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Archives of Internal Medicine, 171, 1894-1900.
  • Burns, R.L., Donovan, A., Ackerman, R., Anderson, E., Rothman, A.J., & Jeffery, R.W. (2012). The impact of material incentives for weight loss: A theoretically-grounded systematic review. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 44, 375-388.
  • Rothman, A.J., Klein, W.M.P., & Cameron, L.D. (2013). Advancing innovations in social/personality psychology and health: Opportunities and challenges. Health Psychology, 32, 602-608.
  • Klein, W.M.P., Shepperd, J.A., Suls, J., Rothman, A.J., & Croyle, R.T. (2015). Realizing the promise of social psychology in improving public health. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 19, 77-92.
  • Rothman, A.J., Gollwitzer, P.M., Grant, A.M., Neal, D.T., Sheeran, P., & Wood, W. (2015). Hale and Hearty Policies: How psychological science can create and maintain healthy habits. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10, 701-705.
  • Burns, R.J., Rothman, A.J., Fu, S., Lindgren, B., Vock, D.M., & Joseph, A. (2016). Longitudinal care helps struggling smokers quit by increasing cessation self-efficacy, satisfaction, and readiness to quit: A mediated moderation analysis. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 50, 58-69.
  • Howland, M., Farrell, A.K., Simpson, J.A., Rothman, A.J., Burns, R., Fillo, J., & Wlaschin, J. (2016). Relational effects on physical activity: A dyadic approach to the theory of planned behavior. Health Psychology, 35, 733-741.
  • Maki, A., Burns, R., Ha., L., & Rothman, A. J. (2016). Paying people to protect the environment: A meta-analysis of incentive interventions to promote proenvironmental behaviors. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 47, 242-255.
  • Sheeran, P., Maki, A., Montanaro, E., Avishai-Yitshak, A., Bryan, A., Klein, W. M. P., Miles, E., & Rothman, A. J. (2016). The impact of changing attitudes, norms, and self-efficacy on health-related intentions and behavior: A meta-analysis. Health Psychology, 35, 1178-1188.
  • McMahon, S., Oakes, J.M, Lewis, B., Guan, W., Wyman, J. F., & Rothman, A.J. (2017). Assessing the effects of inter-personal and intra-personal behavioral change strategies on physical activity in older adults: A factorial experiment. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 51, 376-390.
  • Sheeran, P.S., Klein, W.M.P, & Rothman, A.J. (2017). Health behavior change: Moving from observation to intervention. Annual Review of Psychology, 68, 573-600.
  • American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology in the area of Health Psychology, 2002
  • Distinguished University Teaching Professor, 2018
  • Outstanding Contributions to Graduate and Professional Education, University of Minnesota, 2018