Alexander J Rothman

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Psychology .
N321 Elliott Hall

75 E River Rd

My research interests focus broadly on how people reason about themselves and the environments in which they live and how these inferences guide behavioral decisions. Although this general interest has led to collaborations with colleagues in a range of areas, my research program is primarily 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. The overarching goal of this work is to simultaneously advance our understanding of psychological theory (e.g., models of behavioral decision-making) and the design of behavioral interventions to promote health. In recognition of my work in this area, I received the 2002 Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology in the area of Health Psychology from the American Psychological Association..

The research currently conducted in my lab can be organized around three general questions: (1) "How do people form beliefs about their own health as well as the health status of others?": Research in this area examines how people process and attend to risk-relevant information, how the types of goals people hold affect their ability make changes in their behavior, how people assess the outcomes associated with changes in their behavior, and how stereotypes about illnesses influence the likelihood of recognizing a health problem. (2) "What is the most effective way to provide people with health information?": For example, we have been conducting a on-going series of studies (in both the laboratory and the field) that delineate how providing people with either gain- or loss-framed information about their health influences the likelihood of their adopting a behavior. (3) "How do people's beliefs about their health guide the decisions they make, and how do these decisions in turn influence their beliefs?": In collaboration with colleagues in the school of public health, I led a series of four federally-funded community-based interventions that examined the decision process that guide people's efforts either to manage their weight (i.e., dietary behavior and physical activity) or to quit smoking. In this work, we are particularly interested in understanding whether the factors that enable people to initiate a change in their behavior are different from those that enable them to maintain those changes over time. The data sets from these interventions continue to provide an incredibly rich set of opportunities to examine the factors that regulate people's behavior over time. In addition, our model of behavioral initiation and maintenance is being tested in a series of on-going smoking cessation interventions.

I currently serve as Associate Editor of Health Psychology Review ( I am also actively involved in several initiatives at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). I co-direct the NCI's Advanced Training Institute on Health Behavior Theory, co-direct the NCI's Theories Project, am a member of the NCI's Health Cognition Working Group, and serve on the External Consultation Committee for the NCI's Health Information National Triennial Survey. Finally, I co-organized a recent NIH meeting, "Decision Making in Eating Behavior: Integrating Perspectives from the Individual, Family, and Environment."

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Yale University, 1993.


  • message framing
  • persuasion
  • research methodology
  • social psychology
  • stereotyping
  • interventions to promote healthy behavior
  • health judgment and decision making
  • health behavior
Courses Taught
  • Psy 4993 - Directed Study: Special Areas of Psychology and Related Sciences: Health Cognition and Behavior
  • Psy 8209 - Research Methods in Social Psychology
  • Psy 8993 - Directed Study: Special Areas of Psychology and Related Sciences: Health Cognition and Behavior
  • Psy 5206 - Social Psychology and Health Behavior
  • Rothman, A.J., & Salovey, P. (1997). Shaping perceptions to motivate healthy behavior: The role of message framing. Psychological Bulletin, 121, 3-19.
  • Salovey, P., Rothman, A.J., & Rodin, J. (1998). Health behavior. The handbook of social psychology (Fourth edition), 2, 633-683.
  • 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, A.J., Haddock, G., & Schwarz, N. (2001). "How many partners is too many?": Shaping perceptions of vulnerability. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 31, 2195-2214.
  • King, C.M, Rothman, A.J., & Jeffery, R.W. (2002). The challenge study: Theory based interventions for smoking and weight loss. Health Education Research (Special issue: Health Behavior Change Research: Theory Comparison and Multiple Behavior Research from the NIH Behavior Change Consortium), 17, 522-530.
  • Rothman, A.J., Kelly, K.M, Hertel, A., & Salovey P. (2003). Message frames and illness representations: Implications for interventions to promote and sustain healthy behavior. The self-regulation of health and illness behavior, 278-296.
  • 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.
  • Suls, J. & Rothman, A.J. (2004). Evolution of the psychosocial model: Implications for the future of health psychology. Health Psychology, 23, 119-125.
  • 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.
  • Linde, J.A., Rothman, A.J., Baldwin, A.S., & Jeffery, R.W. (2006). The Impact of Self-Efficacy on Behavior Change and Weight Change among Overweight Participants in a Weight Loss Tria. Health Psychology, 25, 282-291.
  • Kiviniemi, M.T., & Rothman, A.J. (2006). Selective memory biases in individuals' memory for health-related information and behavior recommendations. Psychology and Health, 21, 247-272.
  • 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., Hertel, A.W., Baldwin, A.S., & Bartels, R. (2007). Integrating theory and practice: Understanding the determinants of health behavior change. Handbook of motivation science, 494-507.
  • 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,
  • Baldwin, A.S., Rothman, A.J., Hertel, A.W., Keenan, N.K., & Jeffery, R.W. (in press). Longitudinal associations between people's cessation-related experiences and their satisfaction with cessation. Psychology & Health,
  • Fugelstad, P., Rothman, A.J., & Jeffery, R.W. (in press). Getting there and hanging on: The effect of regulatory focus on performance in smoking and weight loss interventions. Health Psychology,
  • Hertel, A.W., Finch, E., Kelly, K., King, C., Lando, H., Linde, J., Jeffery, R.W., & Rothman, A.J. (in press). The impact of outcome expectations and satisfaction on the initiation and maintenance of smoking cessation: An experimental test. Health Psychology,
  • Rothman, A.J., Wlaschin, J., Bartels, R., Latimer, A., & Salovey, P. (in press). How persons and situations regulate message framing effects: The study of health behavior. Handbook of approach and avoidance motivation,
  • American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology in the area of Health Psychology, 2002