Nezlek, John B.
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Early Life and Educational Background
Nezlek was born on January 12, 1952 on Staten Island, NY. At the age of 11, his family moved to Oceanside, NY, and he graduated from Oceanside High School in 1969. Following this he attended Duke University and earned an AB in Psychology and Sociology in 1973. He was introduced to psychology by Jack Brehm, from whom Nezlek took a freshman seminar on attitude change and social influence. Brehm became Nezlek’s advisor and supervised his honors thesis, which was later published in the Journal of Personality. Also of note, Camille Wortman was the teaching assistant for the methods course Nezlek took with Brehm, and Nezlek took classes from Kurt Back and James House in the sociology department. Following Duke, Nezlek attended the University of Rochester and received his MA and PhD in December of 1978. While at Rochester, Nezlek worked primarily with Ladd Wheeler, with whom he developed the Rochester Interaction Record (RIR), a technique that became (and remains) a standard method of studying daily social interaction (Wheeler & Nezlek, 1977). In the middle of Nezlek’s time at Rochester, Harry Reis joined Wheeler and Nezlek and helped to develop the RIR further. While at Rochester, Nezlek’s thinking was also influenced by Miron Zukerman and Edward Deci. Deci’s work on intrinsic motivation (and later self-determination theory) was a particularly important influence on Nezlek’s views of personality. Nezlek was also influenced by Alfred L. Baldwin who was on Nezlek’s dissertation committee.
With the exception of a few years, Nezlek has spent his academic career at the College of William & Mary. He was hired as a visiting assistant professor in the fall of 1977, was tenured in 1985, and was promoted to professor in 1994. He accepted a position at SWPS University in Poland in 2012, and in 2015 he received his doctor of habilitation from SWPS University. He spent a year as a visiting professor at Purdue in 1980, a year in Leuven, Belgium as a visiting scholar (2005), and a year in Poland as a Fulbright Fellow (2013). Nezlek has also had short-term fellowships in Belgium, France, and Germany. He has authored more than 100 publications and chapters that have appeared in publications such as the Journal of Personality, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Personality and Individual Differences, and the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. In addition, he has written two books: one concerning the application of multilevel models in social and personality (Nezlek, 2011) and another concerning diary methods in personality and social psychology (Nezlek, 2012).
Nezlek’s primary research interest concerns individual differences in naturally occurring experience. This research has taken two general forms: studies of social interaction using the Rochester Interaction Record, and studies of daily experience, typically using end-of-day reports. The studies of social interaction have concerned social contact per se (what happens when people are together, e.g., Nezlek, Schütz, Schröder-Abé, & Smith, 2011), whereas the studies of daily experience have a broader focus and have concerned how and why people change from day to day (e.g., Nezlek & Gable, 2001). By examining how people vary across situations, studies of both types are meant to complement “traditional” trait-focused models that have emphasized consistency across situations.
In addition to an emphasis on within-person variability, studies of both types emphasize the need for precision when conceptualizing and measuring constructs and when analyzing the data collected in a study. The studies of social interaction have focused on various topics ranging from relationships between physical attractiveness and interaction to relationships between interaction and psychological well-being. Although the specific conclusions of these studies vary as a function of the focus of the study, one general conclusion is that quantity of social interaction (e.g., how many social interactions a person has each day) needs to be distinguished from the quality of social interaction (e.g., how enjoyable a person’s interactions are). For example, it appears that depressive symptoms are relatively unrelated to how socially active someone is, but they are negatively related to the quality of someone’s interactions (e.g., Nezlek, Hampton, & Shean, 2000). Similarly, the focus of his research on daily experience has varied considerably from study to study, but there is also a theme that emerges from this research taken together. When studying daily experience and how people change day to day, Nezlek has established that it is important to distinguish the types of experiences people have (e.g., work vs. social), the types of reactions to these experiences being studied (e.g., affective vs. more cognitively focused measures, e.g., Nezlek, 2005), and the broader context within which people live (e.g., different cultures e.g., Nezlek, Sorrentino, Yasunaga, Otsubo, Allen, Kouhara, & Shuper, 2008).
An overarching concern of Nezlek’s scholarship has been the methods used to measure daily experience and the analyses of these data. In addition to his pioneering work on the Rochester Interaction Record, he was also among the first researchers to use online data collection. Perhaps more important has been his work on the application of multilevel modeling to analyzing data collected in studies of daily experience (e.g., Nezlek, 2007). In addition to writing numerous papers and chapters (and the aforementioned books) about using multilevel modeling, he has offered over 30 workshops (across the world) on multilevel modeling analyses.
- Nezlek, J. B. (2011). Multilevel modeling for social and personality psychology. In J. B. Nezlek (Ed.), The SAGE Library in social and personality psychology methods. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Nezlek, J. B., Sorrentino, R. M., Yasunaga, S., Otsubo, Y., Allen, M., Kouhara, S., & Shuper, P. (2008). Cross-cultural differences in reactions to daily events as indicators of cross-cultural differences in self-construction and affect. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 39, 685–702. doi:10.1177/0022022108323785.CrossRefGoogle Scholar