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National Cancer Institute
William Klein

William Klein, PhD

Research Interests

William Klein, PhD, was appointed associate director of the Behavioral Research Program (BRP) in August 2009. Prior to this appointment, he was associate professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Klein’s research interests fall largely under the areas of self-judgment, risk perception, and risk communication. He has been interested in how risk perception biases are related to the processing of health communications, to health decision-making, and to health behavior; how social processes (e.g., social comparison, self-affirmation, peer influence, self-evaluation, self-presentation) influence responses to personalized feedback and risk communication; the influence of affective factors such as worry on risk appraisal and health decisions; the impact of ambiguity on responses to feedback and risk messages; the role of optimism in health behavior and psychological functioning; and applications of theory to risk communication and health behavior intervention.

Selected Publications

Klein, W.M.P., Lipkus, I.M., Scholl, S.M., McQueen, A., *Cerully, J.L., & Harris, P.R. (in press). Self-affirmation moderates effects of unrealistic optimism and pessimism on reactions to tailored risk feedback. Psychology and Health.

Klein, W.M.P., & Harris, P.R. (2009). Self-affirmation enhances attentional bias toward threatening components of a persuasive message. Psychological Science, 20, 1463-1467.

Moore, D.A., & Klein, W.M.P. (2008). Use of absolute and comparative performance feedback in absolute and comparative judgments and decisions. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 107, 60-74.

Klein, W.M.P., & Cerully, J.L. (2007). Health-related risk perception and decision-making: Lessons from the study of motives in social psychology. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 1, 334-358.

Klein, W.M.P., & Stefanek, M.E. (2007). Cancer risk elicitation and communication: Lessons from the psychology of risk perception. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 57, 147-167.

Han, P.K.J., Moser, R., & Klein, W.M.P. (2006). Perceived ambiguity about cancer prevention recommendations: Relationship to perceptions of cancer preventability, risk, and worry. Journal of Health Communication, 11, 51-69.

Radcliffe, N.M., & Klein, W.M.P. (2002). Dispositional, unrealistic, and comparative optimism: Differential relations with knowledge and processing of risk information and beliefs about personal risk. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 836-846.

Klein, W.M. (1997). Objective standards are not enough: Affective, self-evaluative, and behavioral responses to social comparison information. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 763-774. [reprinted in H. Blanton & D. Stapel (Eds.), Social comparison theories. New York, NY: Psychology Press (2006)].

Selected Grants
Dr. Klein's research has been supported by the National Cancer Institute, National Science Foundation, and several private foundations.

Selected Affiliations

Dr. Klein was recently associate editor of Psychology and Health and has served on the editorial boards of journals including Psychological Science and Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

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