National Cancer Institute
William  M. Klein

William M. Klein, Ph.D.

Associate Director, BRP
Office of Assoc Dir - Behavioral Research Program (OAD-BRP)
Behavioral Research Program (BRP)

Research Area: Social psychology; Risk perception; Decision-making

William Klein, Ph.D., 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 work has appeared in over 175 publications and has been supported by NCI, the National Science Foundation, and several private foundations.

Dr. Klein completed his B.A. in Psychology and Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences at Northwestern University (1987) and his Ph.D. 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 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 is currently adjunct faculty at the University of Pittsburgh and Johns Hopkins University, and he is an adjunct investigator in the Social and Behavioral Research Branch of the National Human Genome Research Institute where he collaborates on several projects involving genetic risk communication. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the joint NIH/Hopkins Genetic Counseling graduate program in which he teaches a graduate course on health judgment and decision making. Dr. Klein 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.

Current and past BRP mentees include Rebecca Ferrer, Annette Kaufman and Jennifer Taber.

Selected Publications and Presentations

Ferrer RA, Klein WM, Graff KA Self-affirmation increases defensiveness toward health risk information among those experiencing negative emotions: Results from two national samples. Health Psychol 2017 Apr; 36(4):380-391.

Sheeran P, Klein WM, Rothman AJ Health Behavior Change: Moving from Observation to Intervention. Annu Rev Clin Psychol 2017 Jan 3; 68:573-600.

Klein WM, Grenen EG, O'Connell M, Blanch-Hartigan D, Chou WS, Hall KL, Taber JM, Vogel AL Integrating knowledge across domains to advance the science of health behavior: Overcoming challenges and facilitating success. Trans Beh Med 2017 Mar; 7(1):98-105.

Klein WM, Shepperd JA, Suls J, Rothman AJ, Croyle RT Realizing the promise of social psychology in improving public health. Pers Soc Psychol Bull 2015 Feb; 19(1):77-92.

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.

Last Updated: 03/19/2018 01:57:09