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Bill Swann

Bill Swann

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I am a Professor of Social and Personality Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. My primary appointment is in the Social-Personality area of the Psychology Department, with additional appointments in Clinical Psychology and in the School of Business. I received my Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and undergraduate degree from Gettysburg College.

For those of you interested in graduate study in social-personality psychology, YES, I will be accepting new students in the Fall of 2011.

My primary interest these days is in identity fusion, which is a familial orientation toward a group that emerges when the personal self merges with the social self. Fusion is important and interesting because fused persons express willingness to engage in extraordinary behaviors in the service of their group membership. Various extreme behaviors have been examined, including endorsement of fighting or dying for the group, reactions to victory/defeat of one's political party, and the willingness of transsexuals to endure painful surgery. Various contextual variables seem to trigger fusion effects, including salience of personal or social identities and social ostracism. In one recent set of studies involving some interpersonal variations of the trolley dilemma, fused persons endorsed jumping to their deaths in front of runaway trolley to save the lives of their fellow countrymen. every instance, identity fused persons have displayed exceptional willingness to endorse extreme actions for the group. There are now five published or "in press" articles on identity fusion. We are currently exploring cultural differences in identity fusion, and already have some intriguing evidence of large differences.

I am also intrigued with the nature and antecedents of the desire for self-enhancement. Tracy Kwang and I recently published a meta-analysis and theoretical article on this topic. With Michael Buhrmester, I have conducted a series of studies that are designed to identity the mechanisms underlying the endowment effect.Michael, Hart Blanton and I have also a paper that is in press in JPSP that explores the measurement of implicit self-esteem.

All of these studies are specific illustrations of the importance of the processes through which people negotiate their identities in social settings. I recently prepared a a couple of theoretical articles, one on identity negotiation in general (with Jennifer Bosson) and a second on identity negotiation in the workplace (with Jennifer Bosson & Russell Johnson).

Finally, at several points in my carreer I have developed a scale to answer a specific question I had involving the self or relationships or the interplay between the two. These scales can be found on the "Questionnaires" page of my website. The primary scales include a measure of self-concepts (the "SAQ") published in 1989 with Brett Pelham, and measure of self-esteem (the "SLCS") published in 2001 with Romin Tafarodi, a brief measure of the Big 5 personality traits (the "TIPI"), and a measure of verbal inhibition or Blirtatiousness (the BLIRT") published in 2001 with Jason Rentfrow (If you are interested in learning your score on the Blirt, click here). Most recently, I helped create a verbal measure of identity fusion (Gomez et al., 2011, JPSP)

Note: All of my recent and many of my not-so-recent publications can be found on my web site:

Primary Interests:

  • Close Relationships
  • Gender Psychology
  • Group Processes
  • Intergroup Relations
  • Interpersonal Processes
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Prejudice and Stereotyping
  • Self and Identity
  • Social Cognition
  • Sociology, Social Networks

Research Group or Laboratory:

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Courses Taught:

Bill Swann
Department of Psychology
1 University Station, A8000
University of Texas, 108 Dean Keaton
Austin, Texas 78712
United States of America

  • Phone: (512) 471-3859
  • Fax: (512) 471-6175

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