I grew up in Brooklyn New York. After graduating high school in 1963, I enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley where I had the blind good luck to experience the sixties from hippy central. After graduating from Berkeley in 1967, I went on to get a master's degree in clinical psychology from Florida State University in 1969 and a Ph.D. in personality/social psychology from New York University in 1974. I've been a Professor of Psychology at California State University, Fresno ever since, with stints as Chairperson of the Department and as Associate Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics. Over the years I've also served as a Visiting Professor at Universidade Federal Fluminense in Niteroi, Brazil, at Sapporo Medical University in Japan, Stockholm University in Sweden and, most recently, as a Fellow in the Institute of Advanced Study at Durham University in the UK.
I am married to Trudi Thom, a retired school psychologist with Fresno County schools who continues to be active in field. We have two sons: Andy, who is Director of a community organizing group called Faith in Community in Fresno, CA, and Zach, who is currently on a trip around the world before beginning a doctoral program in anthropology next Fall.
I have published two trade books and have a third in press. The first, A Geography of Time (Basic Books/Perseus, 1997 was awarded the Otto Klineberg Intercultural and International Relations Award. It has been translated into seven languages. The German translation (Eine Landkarte der Zeit) has also won awards, including being named “Non fiction Book of the Year” by the German science magazine Bild der Wissenschaft in 1999.
The Power of Persuasion: How We're Bought and Sold (John Wiley & Sons, 2003; updated paperback edition published in 2006) targets the mindsets of those who prod, praise, debase, and manipulate others to do things they never thought they'd do-and are sometimes later sorry they did. I took a hands-on approach in my research by, for example, taking jobs as a door-to-door salesman and a used car salesman. It was a fascinating experience. The book has now been translated into nine languages. It was named one of the “Ten Most Influential Books of 2003” by one international book group.
I expect my newest book, STRANGER IN THE MIRROR: The Scientific Search for the Self, to be published next year. This volume takes the reader through an array of characters and conditions that challenge our assumptions about who we are and, most importantly, what we are capable of becoming. Drawing on stories from psychology, medicine, biology, literature and the author’s own life, the book describes the quirky and often surprising psychology that drives the process. We see how even the most radical transformations can be created by seemingly minor, random incidents at the right time and place.
In addition, I have co-edited two books intended for academic readers. First, my colleague Aroldo Rodrigues and I co-edited Reflections on 100 Years of Experimental Social Psychology (Basic Books/Perseus, 1999). This book grew out of a remarkable conference held in Yosemite National Park to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Triplett's seminal study of bicycle racers-an experiment which has often been cited as the beginning of modern experimental social psychology. We brought together nine giants of social psychology to reflect upon the field which they have been so instrumental in creating: Elliot Aronson, Leonard Berkowitz, Morton Deutsch, Harold Gerard, Harold Kelley, Albert Pepitone, Bertram Raven, Robert Zajonc, and Philip Zimbardo. They each contributed chapters to the book. We also produced a video of the event.
Next, I co-edited Journeys in Social Psychology: Looking Back to Inspire the Future (Psychology Press, 2008) with my colleagues Aroldo Rodrigues and Lynnette Zelezny. This book consists of first person, narrative accounts of the career journeys of 13 of our most eminent social psychologists. Contributors include: Ed Diener, Robert Cialdini, Shelley Taylor, Alice Eagly, Bernard Weiner, Philip Zimbardo, Robert Rosenthal, Harry Triandis, Bert Raven, Morton Deutsch, the late Harold Gerard, and the late Harold Kelley.
I love teaching and have had the good fortune to win several teaching awards. I mostly teach courses in social psychology, including a special topics course, “The Psychology of Persuasion and Mind Control.” (See: Teaching)
I am active at Poverello House, a local organization that provides meals and services to the homeless. I worked with the homeless community to help launch an ongoing, self-governing tent city community named “The Michael McGarvin, Jr. Village of Hope” in honor of the late son of the founder of Poverello House, “Papa Mike” McGarvin, Sr. For more information about the Village, see: UN Human Settlements NGO Newsletter. For more about Poverello House, see the Poverello House website.
I also do art work-both paintings and sculpture. My work can be seen at the Chris Sorensen Studio, 2205 S. Van Ness in Fresno or by appointment. For samples of my artwork click here.
Brief Biographical Blurb:
Robert Levine is a Professor of Psychology and former Associate Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics at California State University, Fresno where he has won national and international awards for his research, teaching and writing. He has served as a Visiting Professor at Universidade Federal Fluminense in Niteroi, Brazil, at Sapporo Medical University in Japan, Stockholm University in Sweden and, most recently, as a Fellow in the Institute of Advanced Study at Durham University in the UK. He is outgoing President of the Western Psychological Association and a Fellow in the American Psychological Association. He has published many articles in professional journals as well as articles in trade periodicals such as Discover, American Demographics, The New York Times, Utne Reader, and American Scientist. His book, A Geography of Time (Basic Books/Perseus), was the subject of feature stories around the world, including Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, CNN, the BBC, ABC's Primetime, NPR's All Things Considered and Radio Lab. It has been translated into eight languages. His book, The Power of Persuasion: How We're Bought and Sold (John Wiley & Sons), has also been translated into eight languages. His latest book, Stranger in the Mirror, will be published next year by Princeton University Press.
Robert V. Levine
Professor of Psychology
Social Psychology writer, speaker, consultant