Education/Positions. Petty received his B.A. (with high distinction) in government (political science) and psychology from the University of Virginia in 1973, and his Ph.D. in social psychology from Ohio State University in 1977. He began his academic career that same year as Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Missouri. In 1981 he was promoted to Associate Professor, and in 1985 he was named the Frederick A. Middlebush Professor of Psychology at Missouri. After a sabbatical at Yale University in 1986, he returned to Ohio State in 1987 as Professor of Psychology and Director of the Social Psychology Doctoral Program. In 1995, he was visiting Professor of Psychology at Princeton University. In 1998, he was named Distinguished University Professor at Ohio State. He served as the Ohio State psychology department chair from 1997-2002 and again from 2008-2015.
Research. Petty’s research focuses broadly on the situational and individual difference factors responsible for changes in beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. Much of his current work (and that of the students and colleagues with whom he collaborates) is aimed at examining the implications of the Elaboration Likelihood Model of persuasion for understanding prejudice, consumer choices, political and legal decisions, and health behaviors. Topics of special current interest include: understanding the role of meta-cognitive (e.g., confidence/certainty) as well as implicit (automatic or unconscious) factors in persuasion, resistance to change, and advocacy; the effect of racial and ethnic prejudice, stereotypes, specific emotions, and morality on social judgment and behavior; and investigating how people correct their evaluations for various factors they think may have biased their judgments (such as stereotypes they hold or emotions they are experiencing). This work has resulted in 8 books and over 400 journal articles and chapters Collectively, his research has been cited over 140,000 times.
Professional honors. Petty was elected fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2010), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1990), the Association for Psychological Science (1988), the Society of Experimental Social Psychology (1982) and the American Psychological Association (with fellow status in the following divisions: 1-General , 3-Experimental/Cognitive Science ; 8-Social/Personality ; 23-Consumer ; and 38-Health ). Petty served as President of the Midwestern Psychological Association (2002), the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (2009), and the Foundation for Personality and Social Psychology (2017-2018).
Among the other honors and awards Petty has received are the following:
*in 1995 he received the Distinguished Scholar Award from Ohio State University;
*in 1998 he was named Distinguished University Professor at Ohio State University;
*in 1999, he was named Distinguished Scientist-Lecturer for the American Psychological Association;
*in 1999, he received the award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Consumer Psychology from the Society for Consumer Psychology;
*in 2000 he received the Donald T. Campbell Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Social Psychology from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology;
*in 2003 he was selected for the Decade of Behavior Distinguished Lecture Program by the American Psychological Association;
*in 2009 he received the Scientific Impact Award from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology for the development of the Elaboration Likelihood Model of persuasion;
*in 2011 he received the Distinguished Service Contribution Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology;
*in 2014 a research study named him one of the Most Eminent Psychologists of the Modern Era;
*in 2015 he received the Distinguished Scientist Award for his career contributions to social psychology from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology;
*in 2016 he received the Thomas M. Ostrom Award for his career contributions to social cognition from the Person Memory Interest Group;
*in 2018 he received the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award for his career contributions to understanding attitudes and social influence from the Attitudes and Social Influence Group.
Editorial service. After serving as Associate Editor of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin from 1982-1984, he became the journal’s editor from 1988-1991. He has also served as Associate Editor for the APA journal, Emotion (2002-2004), co-editor (with Duane Wegener) of a special issue of Social Cognition (1998), and as Research Dialogues co-editor (with Joe Priester) for the Journal of Consumer Psychology (2010-2012). Petty was Chair of the SCP committee that founded and selected the inaugural editor for the Journal of Consumer Psychology (1989-1990), Chair of the SPSP committee that founded and selected the inaugural editor for the Personality and Social Psychology Review (1994-1995), and Chair of the Consortium Governing Board (representing SPSP) that founded and selected the inaugural editor for Social Psychological and Personality Science (2008-2009).
In addition, he serves or has served on the editorial boards of the following journals:
Archives of Scientific Psychology (2013-2015);
Consumer Psychology Review (2016-present);
Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology (2014-present);
Journal of Consumer Psychology (1994-2003; 2011-present);
Journal of Consumer Research (1982-2000);
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (1990-present);
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1983-2017);
Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology (1983-2002);
Media Psychology (1998-2011);
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (1994-1998; 2009-present);
Personality and Social Psychology Review (1995-2014);
Psychological Review (1996-1999);
Psychological Science (2006-2008);
School Psychology Quarterly (1997-2002).
Government/public policy service. Petty has served as a consultant and panelist for various federal agencies such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) panels on Persuasion Technology Transfer (1993) and Using Persuasive Communication to Prevent Drug Abuse (1997); the National Science Foundation (NSF) advisory panels on (1) the Human Dimensions of Global Change (1994) and (2) Understanding Implicit Bias (co-chair; 2018-2019); the National Cancer Institute (NCI) workshop on designing theory-based health communications (2003), the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) conference on Incorporating Social Science Insights into Deterrence Assessments (2008), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) workshop on Countering Violent Extremism (2017), and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) workshop on Combating Vulnerabilities Exploited by Misinformation (2019). He has served on two special committees of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS): (1) the Committee on Improving America’s Diet and Health (1988-1990) and (2) the Committee on a Research Agenda for the Social Psychology of Aging (2002-2005). He is former member (1992-1995) and chair (1995-1996) of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) grant review panel on Social and Group Processes. For the American Psychological Association (APA), he served as a member of the Committee on Scientific Awards (1999-2001), and was elected to the Policy and Planning Board (2013-2016) as well as the Publications and Communications Board (2018-2023) for which he served as chair of the Journal Advisory Committee (2019-2021).