Social Psychology Network

Maintained by Scott Plous, Wesleyan University

Mary Gergen


Professor Mary Gergen died died peacefully in her home on September 22, 2020, at the age of 82 after wrestling for a fourth time with cancer. Social Psychology Network is maintaining this profile for visitors who wish to learn more about Professor Gergen's work.

Please see below for more information:

After finishing my Ph.D. at Temple University in social psychology, I worked as a psychological consultant for AT&T on their longitudinal study of managers' lives. I began my academic career at Penn State, Delaware County, in 1984 in Psychology and Women's Studies.

My intellectual focus originates at the intersection of social psychology, feminist theory, and social constructionist ideas. I have worked on gender issues, primarily using narrative methods. My last book was an edited volume with Sara N. Davis, Toward a New Psychology of Gender (Routledge, 1997), and my subsequent book was Feminist Reconstructions in Psychology: Narrative, Gender and Performance (Sage, 2000). More recently I have edited a reader on Social Constructionism with Ken Gergen (Sage, 2003), and a small primer, Social Construction: Entering the Dialogue (2005), with Ken Gergen, which has been translated into 5 European languages.

Recently I have been experimenting with forms of performative psychology, which involves dramatic presentations as a way of doing social science. I have taught a variety of subects in psychology, including social psychology, gender relations, and leadership in theworkplace. In 1998 I was appointed Division Head for the Social Sciences and Education in the newly formed Commonwealth College of Penn State, which is now the largest of the colleges. I am also a founder of the Taos Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the development of social constructionist ideas within diverse practice areas, including therapy, organizational consulting, and education. Our web site is:

Since "so-called" retirement, I have been primarily involved in advising PhD students in a joint program sponsored by Tilburg University in The Netherland and the Taos Institute. I also continue to teach Feminist Theory at Penn State Brandywine, a local college near our home in Swarthmore, PA.

Finally, I am co-creator of an electronic newsletter, The Positive Aging Newsletter, which is dedicated to promoting a positive image of aging, as opposed to the usual negative stereotype. If you are interested, email me, and I'll see that you will get one bimonthly.

Primary Interests:

  • Close Relationships
  • Gender Psychology
  • Interpersonal Processes
  • Person Perception
  • Personality, Individual Differences
  • Research Methods, Assessment

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Other Publications:

  • Qualitative Methods in Feminist Psychology. (2007). In W. Stainton-Rogers & C. Wittig (Eds.), Handbook of Qualitative Research in Psychology (pp. 280-295). London, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • (2007). Positive aging for women. In J. Chrisler, C. Golder, & P. Rozee (Eds.), Lectures on the psychology of women (4th ed., pp. 376-391). New York: McGraw Hill.
  • Social construction and psychological inquiry. (2007). In J. Gubrium & J. Holstein (Eds.). Handbook of Social Constructionism (pp. 171-188). Sage. (With K. J. Gergen, 1st author)

Courses Taught:

  • Feminist Theory
  • Group Process
  • Introductory Psychology
  • Leadership in Work Settings
  • Methods of Research
  • Personality
  • Psychology of Adjustment
  • Psychology of Gender
  • Social Psychology
  • Statistical Methods
  • Women's Studies

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