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Sherri Gilliland, Graduate Records



Department of Psychology 
125 Moore Building 
The Pennsylvania State University 
University Park, PA 16802-3106

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Social Policies, Programs, and Practices

One of the highest achievements for social psychology is to contribute to the reduction or elimination of social problems.  However, many current issues can be conceived of as “wicked problems” because, for instance, relevant knowledge can be contradictory, problems often are interdependent, and they are not easily solved by a single response.  We are committed to the notion that social psychology can help “Tame Wicked Problems.”  Much of the research conducted by the faculty in social psychology has the goal of either directly or indirectly addressing current issues.   This is revealed in our research on social justice issues (e.g., sexism) and environmental issues (e.g., climate change) and the development of effective policies and program evaluations.  
Janet Swim is applying social psychological theory to understanding why individuals are not responding to the problem of global climate change.  This includes delineating characteristics of global climate change that make it difficult for individuals to understand and perceive it as immediately important, and psycho-social processes that hinder as well as facilitate taking personal and collective action to address climate change.

Mel Mark's research largely involves the use of program and policy evaluation.  His current work includes efforts (a) to apply social psychology to increase the appropriate use of evaluation findings in decision making, (b) test and expand social psychological concepts in the context of evaluation practice (e.g., work on power has potential implications for involving individuals from different stakeholder groups in evaluation planning.  His forthcoming book on the intersection of social psychology and evaluation includes chapters by Al Bandura, Icek Ajzen, Bob Cialdini and many others.  Dr. Mark also conducts research on the hindsight bias, particularly the motivational processes that affect whether or not hindsight is 20-20.  

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