William Klein , PhD
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, self-evaluation, self-presentation) 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 90 publications and has been supported by NCI, the National Science Foundation, and several private foundations.
Dr. Klein completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences at Northwestern University (1987) and his Master of Arts degree and Doctorate 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. Dr. Klein also held secondary appointments in the School of Nursing, Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. 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.
Selected Publications and Presentations
Klein, W. M. & Harris, P. R. Self-affirmation enhances attentional bias toward threatening components of a persuasive message. Psychol. Sci. Agenda 2009; 20(12):1463-1467.
Klein, W. M. & Stefanek, M. E. Cancer risk elicitation and communication: lessons from the psychology of risk perception. CA Cancer J Clin 2007; 57(3):147-167.
Lipkus, I. M. & Klein, W. M. Effects of communicating social comparison information on risk perceptions for colorectal cancer. J Health Commun 2006; 11(4):391-407.
Ferrer, R. A., Hall, K. L., Portnoy, D. B., Ling, B., Han, P. K. J., & Klein, W. M. P. Relationships among health cognitions vary depending on stage of readiness for colorectal cancer screening. Health Psychol 2011; 30:525-535.
Klein, W. M. P., Cerully, J. L., Monin, M. M., & Moore, D. A. Ability, chance, and ambiguity aversion: Revisiting the competence hypothesis. Judgement and Decision Making 2010; 5:192-199.