• Richard Contrada
  • Richard Contrada
  • Professor, Department of Psychology
  • Phone: 1.8489325874

I received my PhD in Social/Personality Psychology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in 1985, and was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, before joining the Rutgers Psychology Department in 1986. Within the Department, I am involved in the Health, Social, and Clinical programs.

My research is concerned with psychosocial and emotional factors involved in the development and course of chronic physical diseases. I have focused on coronary disease because it is a major killer and offers a useful model for understanding psychological factors and pathophysiological mechanisms that are broadly relevant to physical health. For example, I have examined the role of psychological stressors and anger-related personality attributes in provoking physiologic responses that appear to contribute to the etiology and progression of coronary disease. I am also interested in the role of emotions and emotional syndromes, such as anxiety and depression, in adaptation to health crises, such as confronting and recovering from open-heart surgery. This work includes a focus on social-contextual and other factors that shape emotional responses to health threats and other stressors, such as age, gender, social support, and religious involvement.

A focus of some of my current work concerns the role of mental representations (beliefs) in accounting for patients’ failure to undertake health-promoting behaviors for managing chronic medical conditions such as coronary disease.

One of my newest interests is in the use of psychophysiological techniques to assess cognitive and affective processes and attributes involved in reactions to threatening stimuli. These include studies of human startle, assessment of emotional style via electroencephalography (EEG), and measurement of event-related potentials (ERP).

My broader interests include self-regulation theory, self and social identity, and social and affective neuroscience.