Personality and Health

Overview

Northwestern University’s Ph.D. program in Personality and Health (P & H) aims to train behavioral scientists to study the relationships between individual differences in psychological functioning and health outcomes. Bringing perspectives from personality psychology, the program puts a premium on the scientific measurement of personality constructs, advanced quantitative methods, and the study of continuity and change in features of personality across the human life course.  From the health psychology side, P & H examines how psychological and social factors impact physiology, health, and illness, and how variations in human experience, including those related to social class and economic disparities, “get under the skin” to affect health.  Research in P & H ultimately aims to understand how psychological variation impacts the most consequential outcomes in human lives, such as social and emotional wellbeing, mental health, occupational success, adaptation to stress, biological health and illness, and mortality.

Within the Psychology Department at Northwestern University, P & H is affiliated with the Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology.  The two programs converge around the issues of variation in (mental or physical) health, and they share some faculty members.  But students apply to either the P & H program or the Clinical program, depending on their interests and career goals.  Whereas both programs train research scientists, students in the Clinical program typically focus their research on psychopathology or other clinical issues.  (They also receive extensive clinical training, and they do a one-year clinical internship.)  Students in P & H take courses and receive training in both personality psychology and health psychology.  Ideally, their research program will involve some integration of these two fields, though we realize that students may wish to emphasize one field or the other.  In consultation with his or her advisor and other faculty members in P & H, the student should design a course of study that closely reflects his or her particular intellectual interests.  (Note that the P & H program does not include any clinical training.)

The core faculty members in P & H are Professors Dan Mroczek (area head), Edith Chen, Dan McAdams, Greg Miller, and Bill Revelle.  Affiliated faculty members from the Clinical area include Professors Michael Bailey, Robin Nusslock, and Rick Zinbarg.  The P & H program also connects to programs and projects outside of the Psychology Department, including the Human Development and Social Policy (HDSP) program in the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP); the Anthropology Department; the Society, Biology, and Health cluster in the Graduate School; the Cells-to-Society (C2S) initiative at Northwestern; and the Medical Social Sciences (MSS) Department in the Feinberg School of Medicine.