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Research Area: Social Psychology, Risk Perception, Decision-Making
William Klein, PhD, was appointed associate director of the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Behavioral Research Program (BRP) in August 2009. Dr. Klein's research interests fall largely under the areas of self-judgment, risk perception, and risk communication. He has been interested in how risk perception biases are related to the processing of health communications, to health decision-making, and to health behavior; how social processes (e.g., social comparison, self-affirmation, peer influence) influence responses to personalized feedback and risk communication; the influence of affective factors such as worry on risk appraisal and health decisions; the impact of ambiguity on responses to feedback and risk messages; the role of optimism in health behavior and psychological functioning; and applications of theory to risk communication and health behavior intervention. Dr. Klein's research has appeared in over 120 publications and has been supported by NCI, the National Science Foundation, and several private foundations.
Dr. Klein completed his BA in Psychology and Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences at Northwestern University (1987) and his PhD in Social Psychology at Princeton University (1991). In 2002, he became a member of the graduate faculty at the University of Pittsburgh in the Social Psychology and Biological and Health Psychology programs. At the University of Pittsburgh, he was Director of Undergraduate Studies and a 2008 recipient of the Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award for his undergraduate and graduate teaching in the areas of social psychology, health psychology, and decision-making. Prior to 2002, Dr. Klein was on the faculty at Colby College, where he served as chair of the Psychology Department.
Dr. Klein was an associate editor of Psychology and Health and has served on the editorial boards of several journals including Psychological Science and Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. He is currently adjunct faculty at the University of Pittsburgh and Johns Hopkins University, and was appointed adjunct investigator in the Social and Behavioral Research Branch at the National Human Genome Research Institute in 2013 where he collaborates on several projects involving genetic risk communication. Dr. Klein is a member of the Executive Committee of the joint NIH/Hopkins Genetic Counseling graduate program and teaches a graduate course on health judgment and decision making. He co-chairs the Cognitive, Affective, and Social Processes in Health Research (CASPHR) working group at NCI, and serves as Executive Secretary for the White House National Science and Technology Council's Social and Behavioral Sciences Subcommittee of the Committee on Science. Dr. Klein was a 2014 recipient of the American Psychological Association's Meritorious Research Service Commendation and has received two NIH Merit Awards. Dr. Klein's CV is available at: Klein CV.
Klein, W. M. P., Shepperd, J. A., Suls, J., Rothman, A. J., & Croyle, R. T. Realizing the promise of social psychology in improving public health. Per and Soc Psy Rev. 2015 Feb 19; 19(1):77-92.
Klein, W. M. P., Bloch, M., Hesse, B. W., McDonald, P. G., Nebeling, L., O'Connell, M., Riley, W., Taplin, S. H., & Tesauro, G. Behavioral research in cancer prevention and control: A look to the future. Am J Prev Med 2014; 46(3):303-311.
Ferrer, R. A., & Klein, W. M. P. Risk perceptions and health behavior. Curr Opin Psychol 2015; 5:85-89.
Taber, J. M., Klein, W. M. P., Ferrer, R. A., Biesecker, B. B., Lewis, K. L., & Biesecker, L. G Dispositional optimism and perceived risk interact to predict intentions to learn genome sequencing results. Health Psychology 2015; 34(7):718-728.
Klein, W. M. P., Harris, P. R., Ferrer, R. A., & Zajac, L. E. Affective perceptions of vulnerability in response to threatening messages: Effects of self-affirmation. J Exp Soc Psychol 2011; 47(6):1237-1242.