News and Awards

Chopik Receives Gerald R. Miller Award for Early Career Achievement

Congratulations to Dr. William Chopik for receiving the 2024 Gerald R. Miller Award for Early Career Achievement from the International Association for Relationships Research (IARR).

Read the full story here.

Are you happy? What exactly is happiness?

MSU psychology researchers Bill Chopik and Rich Lucas discuss happiness on this episode of MSU Today with Russ White.

Take a listen here. 

Faculty voice: Three myths about personalities

Dr. Ted Schwaba shares three myths that you may assume to be true about personalities, but current findings robustly refute.

Learn more here.

Faculty, staff, alumni, graduate students, and friends gathered to remember and celebrate the lasting impact of Dr. Deborah “Debby” Kashy who passed away on September 8, 2023.

Learn more here.

Environmental pollution, social injustices, and cognitive health: A new study in Southeast Louisiana

Thanks to recent funding by a Tetrad Grant, Kas Anderson Jr. and a team of MSU professors, including Dr. Norman Scheel (Radiology/Human Medicine) and Dr. Masako Morishita (Family Medicine), will be scientifically studying the impact of air pollution and social detriments of health on cognitive health and quality of life for older Black Americans in rural Louisiana.  

Learn more here.

New research: Since Roe was overturned, fewer Michigan adults want to have children

When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, it created uncertainty for Americans' access to abortion and other forms of reproductive health care. This uncertainty may have led to an increase in the number of Michigan adults who said they never want to have children, according to Michigan State University researchers.

Learn more here.

When do we become old? New MSU Study explores age bias across 13 countries

Age is but a number, right? Look at any birthday card aisle in the store and you are sure to see "50 is the new 30" or "You're only as old as you feel." A new study from Michigan State University explored age perceptions over the course of the lifespan of over one million people across 13 countries - and found that as individuals grow older, they express the belief that old age begins at an even later stage of life.

Learn more here.

Do pets make you happier? MSU study shows they did not during the pandemic

There is a general understanding that pets have a positive impact on one's well-being. A new study by MSU Psychology found that although pet owners reported pets improving their lives, there was not a reliable association between pet ownership and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the full story here.

Interested in applying to our graduate program?

Come to our virtual information session on September 14th at 7PM (ET) to find out more about our area of focus, how to apply, and to meet some of the faculty and students.

*Missed the session? Click here to watch a recording.

The Michigan State University psychology department welcomes new faculty member Ted Schwaba, Ph.D. to their social/personality psychology program. Dr. Schwaba, who earned his doctorate from UC Davis, comes most recently from a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Schwaba's research specializes in personality genomics, lifespan personality development, and life experiences and personality development.

Read more about Dr. Schwaba here.

Drink lots of water. If you have taken a class with Dr. Jonathan Weaver, there is a good chance you’ve received this advice. Weaver, an associate professor of psychology, has made this his mantra over his years of teaching at Michigan State.

Read more about Dr. Weaver here.

New research: Political attitudes did not change during COVID-19

There is a traditional understanding that if someone experiences a threatening event, their attitudes and beliefs will change. Some scholars predict that a threat will cause someone to become more conservative on a variety of issues or that they will become more extreme in their attitudes. However, a new study from researchers at Michigan State University and Tilburg University found that Americans’ political attitudes did not change significantly during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, contrary to what many expected.

Read more here.

Trying to predict political outcomes? Look at political ideology

Traditional wisdom holds that to predict a political outcome, it is best to look at how strongly a person adheres to a political party. However, a recent study by social psychologists from Michigan State University and Tilburg University in the Netherlands, including Dr. Mark Brandt, reveals that ideological identities, like aligning with liberal or conservative views, play a crucial role in keeping political attitudes stable. This research deepens our understanding of the factors that shape individuals’ opinions and values on political issues over an extended period.

Read more here.

Congratulations to Dr. Rebekka Weidmann, a research associate in the MSU Department of Psychology at Michigan State University, for receiving the Emerging Scholar Award from the Association for Research in Personality. This award is presented biennially to recognize exceptionally high-quality work from emerging personality psychologists.  

Read more here.

New study: Political animosity is global

A new study by an interdisciplinary team of researchers across six different countries, including Dr. Mark Brandt, found that affective polarization, or the tendency to dislike people who belong to opposing political parties while favoring people from their own political parties, is a global bias -- not just an American one. The research further indicates that the dislike grows stronger when two people think about political issues the same way but come away with different beliefs about those decisions.

Read more here.

Our grad students and faculty had a great time at this year's Association for Research in Personality (ARP) conference! A few highlights included Dr. Rebekka Weidman receiving an Emerging Scholar Award, Dr. William Chopik giving his Early Career Award 2021 speech, poster presentations by graduate students Hyewon Yang and Andrew Rakhshani, and connecting with some of our alumni including over pizza at Lake Michigan!

Dr. Emily Durbin has been named the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies for the College of Social Science.

This position was formerly known as the Associate Dean of Student and Academic Affairs—the new name reflects the breadth of the role and makes the scope of duties more straightforward.  Dr. Durbin will gradually assume the duties of this new role immediately.

“Her exceptional commitment to undergraduate education and outstanding administrative experience makes her perfect for this new role,” said Dr. Brent Donnellan.

Read more here

Brent Donnellan has been recommended to serve as the dean of Michigan State University’s College of Social Science. Donnellan will serve as dean effective July 1.

Read more here.

New research about narcissism from Drs. Rebekka Weldmann and William Chopik was highlighted in a Psychology Today article titled "What Life is Like for an Aging Narcissist."
Dr. William Chopik was highlighted in a a Vox article titled "How much social interaction do you actually need?"

Congratulations to Dr. Katelin Leahy for earning her PhD! Dr. Leahy's dissertation focused on couples' relationship functioning and health in cancer patients and their partners. 


New study: Present-day experiences may change our childhood memories

A new study from Dr. Bill Chopik sheds light on how memories of childhood caregivers continue to change among middle-aged and older adults. The study’s findings have broad implications for how people navigate new relationships and trust in others, as memories of past relationships serve as the foundation for such judgments. The study also challenges previous psychological research that rests on people reporting on how good or bad their previous relationships were.

Learn more here. 

Dr. Rebekka Weidmann interviewed Dr. William Chopik on the Personality Psychology Podcast episode titled "Attachment, optimism, and honesty with Bill Chopik."

New MSU study confirms: 1 in 5 adults don't want children - and they don't regret it later

Last summer, researchers at Michigan State University reported that one in five Michigan adults, or about 1.7 million people, don’t want children and therefore are child-free. Although that number was surprisingly large to many data has now been confirmed in a follow-up study.

Dr. Deborah Kashy, a social psychologist, has recently been awarded the College of Social Science’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Teaching, Research, and Service. With nearly 25 years of service at Michigan State University, Dr. Kashy has established a record of remarkable achievements in scholarship, instruction, and mentorship, as well as exceptional service to both the University and the field of social psychology.

Learn more about Dr. Kashy's impact here. 

Dr. William was highlighted in two recent The Atlantic articles titled "Attachment Style Isn't Destiny" and "America Is in It's Insecure-Attachment Era."

The puzzle of personality, partners, and well-being

Dr. Rebekka Weidmann, a research associate in the MSU Department of Psychology, studies how personality relates to well-being in individuals, couples, and families. Learn more about her research and the impact it can have on our understanding of personality, partnerships, and well-being.

Read more here. 

Canceling plans with a friend? MSU research says don't lie

You’ve made plans to meet up with a good friend in a few hours, but now all you want to do is go home, change into sweats and binge-watch “Game of Thrones.” What do you say to your friend? Will they be upset? New research from Dr. Bill Chopik found that the worst thing you can do is lie about your reason for canceling ­— indicating that how cancellations are made may be more important than whether cancellations are made.

If you’re a curious person who can’t get enough podcasts, this list is for you! Social-personality psychologists, including Dr. Brandt, Dr. Chopik, Dr. Zachary Neal, Dr. Watling Neal, and Dr. Rebekka Weidmann, have been busy sharing their expertise on a variety of topics. Dive in and enjoy stimulating conversations about research, theories, and ideas with some voices you may just recognize!

Eleven Michigan State University researchers, including psychology professor Dr. Richard Lucas, have been recognized in the 2022 Highly Cited Researchers List compiled by Clarivate Analytics. The list identifies individuals from across the globe who have demonstrated significant and broad influence in their chosen field or fields of research over the past decade. 

Read more here.

Parents have very warm feelings toward other parents - here's why that could be bad news for the childfree

Parents have very warm feelings toward other parents - here's why that could be bad news for the child-free

The aphorism “birds of a feather flock together” describes the fact that people tend to prefer associating with others who are similar to themselves. The phenomenon goes by different names: Sociologists call it homophily, psychologists call it in-group favoritism and political scientists call it affective polarization. It’s observed in a wide range of demographic and social characteristics including sex, race, religion, age, education and political party. But what about parental status? Do parents prefer other parents? What about child-free people who don’t want to be parents? Do these preferences even matter?

Here Dr. Zachary P. Neal and Dr. Jennifer Watling Neal share about their research and what it means.

New study: Mental health interventions need cultural, racial, social disparities awareness

Mental health has been a national concern for many Americans during COVID-19, but little research has been done to determine what factors have influenced mental health and how they compare across countries. New research from Michigan State University sampled five countries— the United States, Italy, Spain, Saudi Arabia, and India—and looked at what factors affected suicidal ideation risk during COVID-19 lockdown. 

Read more here.

New study: Personality influenced college students' romantic relationships during the pandemic

Though the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted many people's social lives, new research from Michigan State University outlines some personality-related factors that may have contributed to students either continuing to form new relationships or avoiding them. The new study by MSU researchers found that one in five college students started a new romantic relationship during the pandemic.

"Data and other news reports suggest that there was significant movement and socializing with others during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, even during the most stringent lockdown orders," said William Chopik, associate professor in MSU's psychology department and lead author of the study.

Read more here.

Meet a PSY Spartan: Edward Witt

Edward Witt earned a Ph.D. in Social and Personality Psychology in 2011 after having been an undergraduate psychology student at Michigan State University. During his time at MSU, Edward worked in many different areas, but his main interest was in psychometrics and the measurement of maladaptive personality traits. Now as a manager on the Health Analytics, Research, and Reporting team for Walgreens, Edward can see how beneficial his time at MSU really was.

Read the Q&A with Edward here.

New study: Asexual relationships need same ingredients as any other relationship

Many asexual individuals, those with little to no sexual attraction, are in long-term satisfying romantic relationships, but there has been little study on how and why they last and thrive. New research from Michigan State University found that, despite asexuals’ lack of or dislike for sexual attraction, the ingredients that make for a successful relationship among asexual individuals are virtually the same as those in any other relationship.

“Although asexuals don’t have the desire for sexual relationships, they nevertheless form romantic relationships and those connections look at least somewhat similar to non-asexuals’ romantic relationships,” said William Chopik, associate professor in MSU’s psychology department and coauthor of the study.

Read more about this study here.

A new season of Minority Politics Online Seminar Series (MPOSS) kicks off on September 27th with a talk by Justin Zimmerman on “Race, Class, and Distrust.” This series, hosted by Drs. Ana Bracic and Nazita Lajevardi from the Department of Political Science, and Dr. Mark J. Brandt from the Department of Psychology, uniquely focuses on how politics affect and is affected by marginalized people who have less power and are often excluded from the system.  

“Politics is complex. To understand it, we need to look at it from multiple perspectives,” said Dr. Brandt. “MPOSS is the place where that can happen.”

Read more about the Minority Politics Online Seminar Series here

Meet a PSY Spartan: Andrew Defever

Andrew Defever earned a Ph.D. in Social and Personality Psychology in 2018. As a student, Andrew realized that he wanted to work in industry rather than academia, so he began to figure out where he might fit best. Now as a senior manager in the research science division at J.D. Power, Andrew applies the data, research, and mentorship skills he learned while at MSU.

Read the Q&A with Andrew here.

New study: Neighborhoods aren't made for childfree people

Over the last few years, the pandemic has forced most of us to stay home in our own neighborhoods. New research from Michigan State University found that for some groups of people, spending time in their neighborhoods is no block party. 

 “We found that single parents are much less satisfied with their neighborhoods than married parents, and childfree people who don’t want children aren’t much better off,” said Zachary Neal, associate professor in MSU’s psychology department and co-author of the study.

 The study — published in PLOS ONE — is among the first to break down neighborhood satisfaction by specific types of households, including single parents, empty nesters, and childfree adults. The researchers used data from a representative sample of 1,000 adults in Michigan who completed MSU’s State of the State Survey. Although most neighborhood studies compare parents to non-parents, Neal explained that this misses the important differences.

Read more about this study here.

Dr. Deborah Kashy was awarded the Methodological Innovator Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.

"The Methodological Innovator Award is a senior career award that recognizes an individual who has made a significant or sustained contribution to innovative methods in social and personality psychology across his or her career. The award recognizes contributions that are especially likely to generate the discovery of new hypotheses, new phenomena, or new ways of thinking about the discipline of social/personality psychology."

Read more about this award here


Dr. Mark Brandt was awarded the Jim Sidanius Early Career Award from the International Society of Political Psychology.

The International Society of Political Psychology said the following about Dr. Brandt: "Dr. Mark Brandt has been an amazingly productive scholar in the eight years since earning his Ph.D. His work is methodologically flexible and adept and he is intellectually curious and productive, becoming a top political psychologist of his generation. His work has been consequential and is highly cited, and his interests and contributions have been broad and theoretically important. Dr. Brandt's most recent work on belief system networks tries to change how we study belief systems by focusing on the idea that belief systems are interconnections of attitudes and identities that can be modeled (e.g., with network analyses). His initial work on this idea has shown that political identities are central to belief systems, that belief systems can be replicable, and that conservatives' moral belief systems are more tightly integrated than liberals' moral belief systems." 

Read more about Mark's work and the Jim Sidanius Early Career Award here.