Social Psychology Network

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Susannah B. F. Paletz

Susannah B. F. Paletz

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I combine my fundamental psychology training with my applied field experience to identify and untangle social and cultural factors affecting teamwork and creativity, particularly in multidisciplinary and/or multicultural teams. I have developed expertise in several areas, including the social psychology of team creativity, knowledge diversity in teams, and cross-cultural psychology. My research on teams has been applied to science, engineering, and aerospace domains. I have collected and/or analyzed survey, experimental, interview, archival, social media, and audio-video observational data, using a variety of statistical and methodological techniques. In general, I also conduct applied psychology research in service of the nation on a range of topics.

I completed both the Psychology major and the Science in Society program at Wesleyan University (1994, Phi Beta Kappa), receiving High Honors on my thesis examining student attrition from science and mathematics majors. After college, I worked as a research assistant for Dr. William McAuliffe at the National Technical Center for Substance Abuse Needs Assessment (now called the North Charles Foundation) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I earned my M.A. (December 1999) and Ph.D. (December 2003) in Social/Personality Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. I studied social and personality effects on group creativity with Dr. Maslach and co-authored a paper with Dr. MacCoun on bias in the interpretation of scientific evidence. My dissertation, which was funded by an NSF East Asia fellowship, a Northern California Phi Beta Kappa scholarship, and a Sigma Xi grant-in-aid, assessed lay theories of creativity using original survey data from Japan, China, and the United States with Dr. Kaiping Peng.

From March 2004-August 2008, I was a civil servant Research Psychologist at NASA Ames Research Center. There, I researched team composition and cohesion, organizational risk factors, individual and team selection, and aviation decision-making. I worked in the Distributed Team Decision Making laboratory and the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) laboratory, collaborating with Drs. Judith Orasanu, Christopher Bearman (now at Central Queensland University), Alonso Vera, Irene Tollinger, Yuri Tada, and others. My work in the HCI laboratory earned me Ames Spotlight Awards; the HCI lab's work on improving problem reporting software and processes resulted in the whole team receiving Group Achievement Awards from Johnson Space Center and Ames Research Center.

From 2008-2011 I was a postdoc, and then from 2011-2013 I was a principal investigator and research associate at the Learning Research and Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh, funded by National Science Foundation (NSF) grants via the Science of Science Innovation and Policy Program. I continue to collaborate with Drs. Christian Schunn and Joel Chan (now an assistant professor at the University of Maryland's iSchool) from there. I also learned from and collaborated with Kevin Kim in the education department, who is now deceased. With these colleagues, I annotate and statistically analyze conversations to examine the interplay of social and cognitive micro-events within groups. With Chunchi Lin at the National Taiwan University and Ella Miron-Spektor at Technion University (Israel), I have developed and am testing a model of interpersonal conflict and cognition in multinational groups and settings.

In May 2013, I joined the University of Maryland's Center for Advanced Study of Language as an Associate Research Scientist, studying culture, group processes, and creativity, among other topics. In October 2017, I was promoted to Research Scientist and the Technical Director for Organizational Behavior and Performance. I continue my former collaborations and also work on a range of government-sponsored projects touching on inter- and intra-group dynamics, persuasion, social unrest, and shared meaning; validation of measures; cross-cultural psychology topics; industrial-organizational topics; and others. For example, I was the most recent Principal Investigator on the Regional Proficiency Assessment Tool (RPAT) project, working with a cross-disciplinary team to validate and improve the RPAT. Since 2017, I have been researching why people share information on social media with a different cross-disciplinary team.

Primary Interests:

  • Applied Social Psychology
  • Communication, Language
  • Culture and Ethnicity
  • Group Processes
  • Interpersonal Processes
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Research Methods, Assessment
  • Social Cognition

Research Group or Laboratory:

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Journal Articles:

Other Publications:

  • Paletz, S. B. F. (2011). Project management of innovative teams. In M. Mumford, (Ed.), Handbook of organizational creativity (pp. 421-455). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
  • Paletz, S. B .F. (2009). Individual selection and crew assembly: A gap analysis for exploration missions. In S. B. F. Paletz & M. K. Kaiser (Eds.), Behavioral health and performance technical gap analysis white papers (NASA Technical Memorandum NASA/TM—2009-215381, pp. 141-198). Moffett Field, CA: National Aeronautics and Space Administration Ames Research Center.
  • Paletz, S. B. F., Bogue, K., Miron-Spektor, E., & Spencer-Rodgers, J. Dialectical thinking and creativity from many perspectives: Contradiction and tension. (In press). In J. Spencer-Rodgers & K. Peng (Eds.), Psychological and cultural foundations of dialectical thinking. Oxford University Press.
  • Paletz, S. B. F., Pavisic, I., Miron-Spektor, E., & Lin, C.-C. (In press). Diversity in creative teams: Reaching across cultures and disciplines. To be in L. Y.-Y. Kwan, S. Liou, & A. K.-Y. Leung (Eds.), Handbook of culture and creativity: Basic processes and applied innovations. Oxford University Press.

Courses Taught:

  • Survey and Cross-Cultural Research Methods

Susannah B. F. Paletz
Center for Advanced Study of Language
7005 52nd Avenue
College Park, Maryland 20742
United States

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