Social Psychology

Social Psychology

When do stereotypes influence self-perceptions and behavior? What strategies do people use to manage potentially stigmatizing interactions?  How and when do people’s motivations bias their judgments and expectations?  What role does sexual perception play in sexual aggression between acquaintances? How do temperament and parent-child relationships influence early social-emotional development?  These are but a few of the research questions of interest to the faculty and students within the Social Psychology Area in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Iowa.  We have a diverse set of laboratories in our program, actively engaged in research on a broad variety of topics.  These topics include social-cognitive processes, attitudes, stereotyping and prejudice, social comparison, judgment and decision making, sexual perception and aggression, emotion, social motivation, social-emotional development, temperament and individual differences in childhood, children's attachment processes, and determinants and implications of parenting.

Being a Student in the Social Psychology Program

SP Students celebrating the start of the Fall semesterOur program is designed to prepare students for careers in research and teaching in psychology. The bulk of a student's education in this program comes from hands-on experience in designing, conducting, and communicating research.  Required coursework is usually completed by a student’s third year in the program, but an emphasis on research begins on day one and continues throughout the student’s graduate career. The initial research projects of a student will naturally depend on the expertise of his/her faculty advisor. This is particularly true for the first two years of the program, but becomes less relevant as the student's independent lines of research develop.  By the third year, students typically have a suite of projects, including independent ones and collaborations with faculty and/or other students. All students who are admitted to the program are given five years of financial support in the form of teaching assistantships, research assistantships, or in some cases, fellowships.

Prospective Students

If you are thinking about applying to the Ph.D. program in Social Psychology, you are encouraged to examine faculty websites to learn about the expertise and ongoing research of the faculty in our program.  You are also encouraged to email relevant faculty for additional information about the fit between your interests and theirs. 

You can start the application process for the Ph.D. program by clicking here. Among other things, you will be asked for a Statement of Purpose (1-3 pages, which is more than the one page requirement stated in the graduate application). That statement should describe (a) your prior preparation for graduate school in psychology, including research experience, (b) your research interests, (c) the faculty member(s) with whom you plan to do research in graduate school, and (d) your long-range objectives in pursuing advanced study in psychology.

Additional information of interest to potential applicants can be found here:
                ---Information about admission criteria/requirements
                ---The Department's Graduate Student Handbook
                ---Living in Iowa City

If you have questions about the Ph.D. program in Social Psychology, please feel free to contact our training area coordinator, Dr. Grazyna Kochanska, at:

Office phone: 319-335-2409
Mailing address: Department of Psychology, W311 Seashore Hall, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242

Related Faculty (Outside the Psychology Department)

  • Tamara Afifi (Communication Studies)
  • Walid Afifi (Communication Studies)
  • Leslie Baxter (Communication Studies)
  • Alison Bianchi (Sociology)
  • Terry Boles (Management and Organizations)
  • Kenneth Brown (Management and Organizations)
  • Shelly Campo (College of Public Health)
  • Cathy Cole (Marketing)
  • Steve Duck (Communication Studies)
  • Gary Gaeth (Marketing)
  • Sarah Harkness (Sociology)
  • William Hedgcock (Marketing)
  • Andrew High (Communication Studies)
  • Steven Hitlin (Sociology)
  • Michael Lovaglia (Sociology)
  • Rachel Mclaren (Communication Studies)
  • Michael Mount (Management and Organizations)
  • Dhananjay Nayakankuppam (Marketing)
  • Keli Steuber (Communication Studies)
  • Greg Stewart (Management and Organizations)
  • Jing Wang (Marketing)