Dr Pinel discussing a paper on social isolation with students

Dr Pinel discussing a paper on social isolation with students

Within the department, our approach to social psychology emphasizes theoretically-driven, socially relevant research.  This approach allows students to pursue scholarship on a wide range of topics, including relationships, aggression, social isolation, stigma, prejudice, the environment, mental health, and how people navigate their existence (i.e., existential psychology).  It also allows for collaboration with faculty and students in other areas of psychology, as well as for students in other areas of psychology to pursue scholarship in social psychology that will complement their own interests.

Faculty in social sometimes collaborate with businesses in the local community and with social psychologists at other universities, and students have the opportunity to learn from these experts as well.  Students graduating with a focus in social will be prepared for a career in academia as well as for a career in an applied setting.


Students wishing to focus on social psychology will take a combination of foundational courses and graduate seminars.  They will also gather bi-weekly with faculty and students in a "cluster" meeting.  During these meetings, we present, propose, and design research studies; discuss cutting edge publications; and offer specific trainings on topics of relevance to the profession (for example, grant-writing; reviewing manuscripts; preparing a CV; presenting at conferences).


Some of the most important training for students with a social focus occurs outside of the classroom, in the context of conducting research.  We encourage students to pursue research starting on day 1, and to work closely with their faculty mentor to develop a student-centered research game plan.  Students generally identify a faculty member with research interests that dovetail nicely with their own, and work closely with that faculty mentor following an apprenticeship model. 

We value a multi-method, programmatic approach to research that includes tightly controlled experiments as well as applied work in real-world contexts and large-scale correlational studies.  We also encourage interdisciplinary collaborations.  At some point during their time at UVM, students may choose to collaborate with other faculty members whose expertise falls outside of the area of social psychology but complements their own growing area of expertise.

For more info see: https://www.uvm.edu/cas/psychology/profiles/elizabeth-pinel-social