Education/Positions. Petty received his B.A. (with high distinction) in government (political science) and psychology from the University of Virginia in 1973, and his Ph.D. in social psychology from Ohio State University in 1977. He began his academic career that same year as Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Missouri. In 1981 he 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, he 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 2008-2015.
Research. 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 special 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 8 books and over 300 journal articles and chapters.
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Ohio State University: Ph.D., Social Psychology 1977
University of Virginia in 1973: B.A., Government and Psychology 1973
Media Appearances (3)
This is spinal zap
Another study, this time by Ohio State University, found that adopting an upright posture can give you more confidence in your own thoughts. When the study was published in 2009, professor of psychology at the university, Richard Petty, said: "Most of us were taught that sitting up straight gives a good impression to other people. But it turns out that our posture can affect how we think about ourselves. If you sit up straight, you end up convincing yourself by the posture you're in."...
Dress for success: The psychology of style and professionalism in college
A conversation with two Ohio State University psychologists, Ohio Eminent Scholar professor Jennifer Crocker, and chair of psychology professor Richard Petty, gave perspective on why this may be so. “What we know from psychology is that what you wear, can effect what you think,” says Petty. “Psychologists call this an example of priming and it’s just as simple as saying when I say ‘doctor’ you immediately think ‘nurse’, so that’s an example of priming,” says Petty. “There are certain natural associations that we have like for example we associate glasses with being smart.”...
To clear negative thoughts, physically throw them away: Study
“At some level, it can sound silly. But we found that it really works — by physically throwing away or protecting your thoughts, you influence how you end up using those thoughts,” study researcher Richard Petty, of Ohio State University, said in a statement. “Merely imagining engaging in these actions has no effect.” Petty conducted the study along with Spanish researchers from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. The study included several experiments, the first of which included 83 high-schoolers in Spain who were given three minutes to write their negative or positive thoughts about their own body image...
Recent Research (5)
Here’s when powerful people have trouble making a decisionThe Ohio State University
Richard Petty, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at Ohio State, said other research he and his colleagues have done suggests that feeling powerful gives people more confidence in their own thoughts. That’s fine when you have a clear idea about the decision you want to make. But if you feel powerful and also ambivalent about a decision you face, that can make you feel even more conflicted than others would be, he said. “If you think both your positive thoughts and your negative thoughts are right, you’re going to become frozen and take longer to make a decision,” Petty said...
To strengthen an opinion, simply say it is based on moralityThe Ohio State University
The key finding was how easy it was to strengthen people’s beliefs by using the ‘moral’ label, said Richard Petty, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at Ohio State. “Morality can act as a trigger – you can attach the label to nearly any belief and instantly make that belief stronger,” Petty said...
Bothered by negative, unwanted thoughts? Just throw them awayThe Ohio State University
“However you tag your thoughts -- as trash or as worthy of protection -- seems to make a difference in how you use those thoughts,” said Richard Petty, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at Ohio State University. Some types of psychological therapy use variations of this concept by trying to get patients to discard their negative thoughts. But Petty said this is the first study he is aware of that has validated that approach. “At some level, it can sound silly. But we found that it really works -- by physically throwing away or protecting your thoughts, you influence how you end up using those thoughts. Merely imagining engaging in these actions has no effect.” The findings suggest that people can treat their thoughts as material, concrete objects, Petty said. That is evident in the language we use...
People reject popular opinions if they already hold opposing views, study findsThe Ohio State University
"It may be that you feel proud because you were able to disprove, in your own mind, an opinion that most people have accepted," said Richard Petty, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at Ohio State University. "You actually become doubly sure you were right." Petty conducted the study with Pablo Briñol, a former postdoctoral fellow at Ohio State, and Javier Horcago, both at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Spain. Their results appear online in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and will be published in a future print edition. The research continues a long tradition in psychology of examining how people are influenced by majority or minority opinion on a subject, Petty said...
Study: Body posture affects confidence in your own thoughtsThe Ohio State University
The results show how our body posture can affect not only what others think about us, but also how we think about ourselves, said Richard Petty, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at Ohio State University. “Most of us were taught that sitting up straight gives a good impression to other people,” Petty said. “But it turns out that our posture can also affect how we think about ourselves. If you sit up straight, you end up convincing yourself by the posture you’re in.” Petty conducted the study with Pablo Briñol, a former postdoctoral fellow at Ohio State now at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Spain, and Benjamin Wagner, a current graduate student at Ohio State. The research appears in the October 2009 issue of the European Journal of Social Psychology...