Peter Salovey, PhD

President and Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology; President of the University

Research Departments & Organizations

School of Public Health: Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS | Chronic Disease Epidemiology

Center for Nicotine and Tobacco Use Research at Yale (CENTURY)

WHRY Pilot Project Program Investigators

Yale Cancer Center: Cancer Prevention and Control

Yale Center for Health & Learning Games

Global Health Studies

Research Interests

Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms; Emotional Intelligence; Emotions; Health Behavior; Health Communication; Psychiatry and Psychology; Psychological Phenomena; Psychology, Applied; Psychology, Social; Risk Reduction Behavior

Research Summary

Professor Salovey's research is focused primarily on human emotion and health behavior. With John D. Mayer he developed a broad framework called “Emotional Intelligence,” the theory that just as people have a wide range of intellectual abilities, they also have a wide range of measurable emotional skills that profoundly affect their thinking and action. In his research on health behavior, Professor Salovey investigates the effectiveness of health promotion messages in persuading people to change risky behaviors relevant to cancer and HIV/AIDS.

Specialized Terms: Health Communication; Health Behavior; Human Emotion

Extensive Research Description

The program of research conducted in my laboratory concerns two general issues in social/personality psychology: (a) the psychological significance and function of human moods and emotions and (b) the application of principles derived from research in social/personality psychology to the promotion of health protective behaviors.

The Psychological Consequences of Mood and Emotion

My research program on mood and emotion is focused on the psychological consequences of feeling states. The goal is to specify the processes by which affect influences thought and action. I view emotions as organizing processes that enable individuals to think and behave adaptively. This perspective can be contrasted with a more traditional one that sees affect as a disorganized interruption of mental activity that must be minimized or controlled. My students and I are investigating the consequences of the arousal of moods and emotions in several different domains including (a) cognitive activities such as autobiographical memory, reasoning, and problem-solving, (b) perception and recall of physical symptoms and the development of health beliefs, (c) interpersonal behavior and close relationships, and (d) complex social emotions such as jealousy and envy. A theoretical framework called Emotional Intelligence unifies these different research thrusts. This perspective emphasizes the strategies that people learn in order to appraise and express their emotions accurately, understand the feelings of other people, regulate their emotions and the feelings of other people, and use emotions to motivate, plan, and achieve in life.

Applying Social Psychological Principles to Foster Healthy Behavior

Most of our research attention in the health promotion area concerns the effectiveness of health messages designed to promote cancer and HIV/AIDS prevention and early detection behaviors. The adoption of these healthy behaviors often depends on the persuasiveness of a public service announcement, brochure, print advertisement, educational program, or communication from a health professional. In community-based, field experiments, often with vulnerable populations, we compare the effectiveness of persuasive appeals and social psychological interventions that vary in terms of how information is framed (as benefits versus costs) and whether it is tailored to the health information processing styles and other characteristics of recipients. The goal of our research is to investigate the role of framing and other communication and social influence variables in developing maximally persuasive messages promoting cancer and HIV/AIDS prevention and early detection primarily in inner-city minority and other under-served populations. We are also concerned with the manner by which moods and emotions influence the processing of health information, shape health beliefs, and motivate subsequent health behaviors, and the role of emotional arousal in the persuasiveness of health communications.


  • Emotional intelligence and cultural differences Spain (2000 - 2012)

    Research with the University of Cadiz on cultural differences in emotional intelligence.

  • Emotional Intelligence in Japanese Workplaces
 Japan (2000)

    In collaboration with a human resources consulting organization called EQ-Japan, this project explores the measurement of emotional skills, cultural differences in the manifestations of the intelligent use of emotions in workplace settings, and the role of emotional intelligence in human resources...

  • Building the Capacity for AIDS Research South Africa (2000)

    This project focused on AIDS-related stigma and its effects on limiting the ability of HIV-infected women to choose a safe alternative to breastfeeding, thus risking transmission of HIV to their infants. It was conducted in partnership with the University of Pretoria to develop research...

  • Emotional Intelligence and Personality Characteristics Germany (2000 - 2011)

    Professor Salovey collaborated with researchers at the University of Chemnitz in Germany on issues related to emotional intelligence and personality characteristics.

  • Understanding HIV-Relevant Stigma in India India (2000)

    This research investigates the beliefs and values about HIV-related stigma in hospital settings, and how such stigma affects treatment and health-seeking behavior related to HIV. Three public hospitals in Pune, India are serving as research sites. After qualitative data is collected from patients...

Selected Publications

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Contact Info

Peter Salovey, PhD
Office Location
Department of PsychologyKirtland Hall
2 Hillhouse Avenue

New Haven, CT 06511
Mailing Address
Office of the PresidentYale University
PO Box 208229

New Haven, CT 06520-8229