Carnegie Mellon University

Social/Personality and Health Psychology Graduate Program

Our graduate program focuses on training students to become independent scientists in social/personality and health psychology.

The faculty in this area study how characteristics of our personalities and interpersonal relationships influence relationship functioning, psychological well-being, physical health, and self-regulation (e.g., in the context of addictive behaviors and coping with chronic disease). Our approach places a strong emphasis on identifying the biological, psychological, social, intrapersonal and behavioral mechanisms that explain these relations.

The social/personality and health graduate program emphasizes:

  • collaboration with faculty/students in the program
  • quantitative skill acquisition
  • theory development
  • data collection
  • open science efforts to encourage replicable research
  • cutting-edge measures of health and health behavior

Unique features and strengths of our program include:

  • the selection of an advisor and a committee to provide guidance throughout your graduate experience
  • encouragement to rotate into at least one other faculty member’s lab during the program
  • opportunity to design studies, collect one’s own data, and develop a program of research
  • program’s connection to the larger Pittsburgh community which includes University of Pittsburgh programs, area schools, and patient populations

  • training in observational data collection and coding

  • experience and exposure to clinical trials/interventions

  • access to large longitudinal data sets

This program prepares students well for careers in academia, industry, and other research-related professions. For example, graduates of our program have taken positions as assistant professors in departments of psychology and public health, research institutes, and other industries that value research.

These faculty routinely train Social/Health Psychology Ph.D. students:

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Gretchen Chapman

Professor of Psychology (Courtesy)

Professor of Social and Decision Sciences

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Sheldon Cohen

Robert E. Doherty Professor of Psychology and University Professor

My work focuses on the roles of stress and interpersonal relationships in health and well-being.  Experimental laboratory work focuses on establishing the neuroendocrine (hormonal) pathways that link psychological states to alterations in the immune system, while correlational work focuses on identifying neuroendocrine, immune, and behavioral pathways that link stress, personality, and social networks to disease susceptibility.

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Chante Cox-Boyd

Associate Professor of Psychology (Teaching)

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David Creswell

Associate Professor of Psychology

I study stress and resilience processes. For example, we conduct studies of stress management interventions (e.g., mindfulness) or stress management strategies (e.g., self-affirmation, rewards) to experimentally explore stress and resilience mechanisms in healthy and patient populations. 

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Kasey Creswell

Assistant Professor of Psychology

I am broadly interested in understanding the mechanisms underlying the development and maintenance of addiction, as well as identifying those who may be particularly vulnerable to addiction. My research focuses on uncovering basic affective and cognitive mechanisms of cigarette craving and alcohol use, and emphasizes the importance of social and biological/personality factors in the etiology and maintenance of alcohol and tobacco use disorders.

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Brooke Feeney

Professor of Psychology

My research addresses the general question of how close relationships, and specific social behaviors and social interactions occurring within those relationships, facilitate or hinder human thriving. This work considers the immediate and long-term impact of specific social behaviors and social interaction patterns (and related biological processes) on important thriving outcomes such as mental and physical health, relationship health and stability, and goal progress and accomplishment.

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Vicki Helgeson

Director of Graduate Studies and Professor of Psychology

We study how people adjust to chronic illness, most recently diabetes. With experimental and field research, we focus on the role of interpersonal factors, such as communal coping, on psychological, behavioral, and physical health.

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Kody Manke

Assistant Professor (Teaching)

I am is interested in social justice and inequality, and in using social psychology to help understand and address the nature and causes of these issues in the real world. My research focuses on social identity, especially in the context of stereotype threat and social psychological interventions.

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Michael Scheier

Walter van Dyke Bingham Professor of Personality and Health Psychology and Professor of Psychology

Most of my work is encompassed by the phrase “behavioral self-regulation,” which has to do with purpose, goal-directed action. I’m interested in all phases of this process, including how personality factors such optimism impact it and the nature of the processes that unfold when problems in self-regulation occur.