Area Adviser: Dr. Rich Wiener
The Social-Personality Psychology Ph.D. program at the University of Nebraska Lincoln includes faculty with a broad range of basic research interests and applied interests in public policy and law. Although our work encompasses diverse theoretical orientations and methodologies, we share a commitment to training graduate students to be highly competent researchers who are qualified to work in a number of contexts, including research universities, liberal arts colleges, and non-academic settings. There is substantial overlap between the Social-Personality program and the Law-Psychology program, with several Social-Personality students taking courses at the Law School or conducting research in areas such as jury decision making, discrimination, and eyewitness identification in addition to their work in social psychology. A number of the social psychology students share interests with developmental and clinical psychology students in the Law and Psychology Program who study the influence of social psychological processes in policy and law in the civil and criminal arenas.
Our training program includes research, coursework, and teaching experience. Beginning in their first semester, students work closely on research with their faculty mentors; over time, these projects turn into full collaborations. Students are encouraged to broaden their skills by working on research with more than one faculty member. As students' research progresses, they are encouraged to develop professional skills by presenting their work at conferences and co-authoring research publications. Students present their work at a variety of conferences including but not limited to meetings of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the American Psychology and Law Society, and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. Course requirements help students obtain expertise in conceptual, methodological, and applied areas of social psychology. Students take graduate pro seminars in Social and Personality Psychology to acquire a solid grounding in the theoretical foundations of the discipline. They also take seminars that are more specialized in areas such as social cognition, emotion and motivation, cultural diversity, eyewitness identification, and legal decision-making. In addition, students take several courses in research methodology and statistics. Many of our students earn Ph.D. minors in quantitative methods. However, beyond the core program, students have considerable latitude in selecting coursework, enabling them to tailor the program to their individual interests and needs. Students interested in public policy, law, and mental health find many opportunities for advanced course preparation in these areas.
Finally, because teaching is an important part of many psychologists' careers, our program enables students to obtain substantial teaching experience. Most of our students are teaching assistants at some point during their first two years in the program. After that, students are encouraged to teach courses, either on their own or with another graduate student. All graduate students take a seminar on teaching methods, and a faculty mentor supervises their teaching.
In addition to the opportunities within the Social-Personality program, students can take advantage of connections with several university and community programs, such as the Gallup Organization, the Public Policy Center, and the Center for Children, Families, and the Law. As a result, our students have substantial opportunities in areas of applied psychology, such as survey methodology and public policy. Many of our students take courses and gain experience in legal psychology. However, students who are interested in earning a law degree (M.L.S. or J.D.) as part of their graduate training should apply to a joint degree program in Law-Psychology. Students in the joint program pursue formal training in both psychology and law.
Faculty members in the Social-Personality Program are Brian Bornstein (Juror decision making; eyewitness identification), Cynthia Willis-Esqueda (stereotypes and juror decision making), Richard Wiener (Juror decision making; discrimination, emotions and motivation), Sarah Gervais (Power; subtle sexism; objectification; sexual harassment and the law), and Eve Brank (Family decision making, blame and responsibility, juvenile and elder law and policy).
Associated faculty members in other areas of Psychology include Robert Belli (survey methodology). We also work closely with faculty members from the Law School, Educational Psychology, Sociology, Management and the Industrial/Organizational Psychology program at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Ths Social Psychology Program requirements can be found here.