back to news Oct. 7, 2014

Professor Named one of the Most Eminent Psychologists in the Modern Era

Richard Petty, chair and professor, psychology, was named one of the most eminent psychologists of the modern era, by The American Psychological Association.

Petty joins a list of 200 of the most influential psychologists since World War II including B.F. Skinner and Jean Piaget. In addition to Petty, the list includes Ohio State psychology graduates Walter Mischel (Columbia University) and Claude Steele (provost at the University of California at Berkeley) and former department faculty members Anthony Greenwald (University of Washington), Marilynn Brewer (emeritus faculty and Ohio Eminent Scholar) and John Cacioppo (University of Chicago).

Petty's research focuses broadly on the situational and individual difference factors responsible for changes in beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. Much of his current work (and that of the students and colleagues with whom he collaborates) is aimed at examining the implications of the Elaboration Likelihood Model of persuasion for understanding prejudice, consumer choices, political and legal decisions and health behaviors. Topics of current interest include: understanding the role of meta-cognitive (e.g., confidence/certainty) as well as implicit (automatic or unconscious) factors in persuasion, resistance to change and advocacy; the effect of racial and ethnic prejudice, stereotypes and specific emotions on social judgment and behavior; and investigating how people correct their evaluations for various factors they think may have biased their judgments (such as stereotypes they hold or emotions they are experiencing). This work has resulted in eight books and more than 300 journal articles and chapters.

Petty received his BA, with high distinction, in government and psychology from the University of Virginia in 1973, and his PhD in social psychology from Ohio State in 1977. He began his academic career that same year as assistant professor of psychology at the University of Missouri. In 1981 Petty was promoted to associate professor, and in 1985 he was named the Frederick A. Middlebush Professor of Psychology at Missouri.

After a sabbatical at Yale University in 1986, Petty returned to Ohio State in 1987 as professor of psychology and director of the Social Psychology Doctoral Program. In 1995, he was visiting professor of psychology at Princeton University. In 1998, he was named Distinguished University Professor at Ohio State. He served as psychology department chair from 1998-2002, and again from 2008-present.

Among the honors and awards Petty has received are the following: 1995, Distinguished Scholar Award from Ohio State University; 1999, Distinguished Scientist-Lecturer, American Psychological Association; 2000, Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Consumer Psychology, Society for Consumer Psychology; 2001, Donald T. Campbell Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Social Psychology, Society for Personality and Social Psychology; 2002, Decade of Behavior Lecturer, American Psychological Association; 2009, Scientific Impact Award, Society of Experimental Social Psychology and 2012, Distinguished Service Contribution Award, Society for Personality and Social Psychology.

Petty is a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Psychological Science, the Society of Experimental Social Psychology and the American Psychological Association ( with fellow status in the following divisions: General, Experimental, Social/Personality, Consumer, and Health). Petty served as president of the Midwestern Psychological Association in 2002 and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in 2009.

Petty has served as a consultant and panelist for various federal agencies such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse panel on Using Persuasive Communication to Prevent Drug Abuse, the National Science Foundation panel on the Human Dimensions of Global Change and the National Cancer Institute's workshop on designing theory-based health communications. He has served on two special committees of the National Academy of Sciences: the Committee on Implementing Dietary Guidelines to Improve the Health of Americans and the Committee on a Research Agenda for the Social Psychology of Aging.