Social Psychology

Ranked among the top programs nationally, the graduate program in Social Psychology at UCSB trains experimental social psychologists for research and teaching positions in academic settings and for research careers in the private sector. The program offers a balance between theory-oriented basic research and problem-oriented applied research.

The Social Psychology Program consists of faculty members whose research spans the spectrum of human social behavior. Providing a multi-faceted approach to social-psychological phenomena, faculty investigate the cognitive, affective, and motivational processes underlying intraindividual, interpersonal, intragroup and intergroup behaviors. Specific topics currently studied include, for example, attitude change and social influence; stereotyping; self-knowledge; stigma; coping with stressful life events; decision making; judgment; inference and attributional reasoning; affective and cognitive processing; interpersonal perception and impression formation; close relationships; challenge and threat; and social influences within virtual environments. Many of these topics are the focus of research by more than one faculty member, allowing students to study them from a variety of perspectives.

Students are expected to obtain a broad background in social psychology by taking advantage of the range of graduate seminars offered by program members, as well as by participation in the program’s weekly area meetings, and speaker series, which attracts many prominent social and personality psychologists to the campus. Students are also expected to gain research mastery in one or two specialty areas. Research training focuses on mainstream experimental methodology, complemented by opportunities for specialization in social cognition, social psychophysiological and immersive virtual environment techniques. In addition, the program offers opportunities for interdisciplinary training in communication and human development. We intentionally limit the number of students admitted to our program so that students are able to work closely with faculty and other graduate students in research and teaching. Each student works with a primary advisor, but is encouraged to collaborate with other members of the program to develop an individualized program of study and research.

The Social Psychology Program enjoys truly outstanding research facilities which are equipped with state-of-the-art video, audio, computer, and psychophysiological data collected capabilities.