- Program Director: Eli Finkel
The goal of graduate training in Social Psychology at Northwestern University is to produce researchers and teachers of exceptional quality. The program provides intensive training in research methods, statistical analysis, and a wide array of theoretical perspectives focusing on major areas of social psychology. Members of the program 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. 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.
Training in the 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.