Directory of People & Offices
Associate Professor of Education
Hunter Gehlbach is an educational psychologist who brings social psychological principles to bear on educational challenges. His research focuses on improving educational settings through enhancing the social interactions of teachers and students. His specific interests within social psychology focus on social perspective taking how people discern the thoughts and feelings of others within the classroom. For examples of how social psychology might be used to improve teaching and learning, please visit his APS funded website Social Psychology for Educators. In addition to this substantive interest, he is also interested in helping social scientists to design effective questionnaires. He teaches classes in both of these areas. Currently he serves as an editorial board member for Educational Psychology Review, an advisor to the Strategic Data Project, and an affiliate of Harvard's Program on Survey Research. After graduating with a B.A. from Swarthmore College in psychology and education, Gehlbach taught high school social studies before completing an M.Ed. in school counseling from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Stanford University.
- Ph.D., Stanford University
- Barge, S., & Gehlbach, H. Using the theory of satisficing to evaluate the quality of survey data. Research in Higher Education, 53(2), 182-200. (2012)
- Gehlbach, H., & Brinkworth, M. E. The social perspective taking process: Strategies and sources of evidence in taking anothers perspective. Teachers College Record, 114(1), 226-254. (2012)
- Gehlbach, H., Brinkworth, M. E., & Wang, M.-T. The social perspective taking process: What motivates individuals to take anothers perspective? Teachers College Record, 114(1), 197-225. (2012)
- Gehlbach, H., Young, L. V., & Roan, L. Teaching social perspective taking: How educators might learn from the Army. Educational Psychology, 32(3), 295-309. (2012)
- Artino, A. R., Jr., Gehlbach, H., & Durning, S. J. AM Last Page: Avoiding Five Common Pitfalls of Survey Design. Academic Medicine: Journal Of The Association Of American Medical Colleges, 86(10), 1327-1327. (2011)
- Gehlbach, H. Making social studies social: Engaging students through different forms of social perspective taking. Theory Into Practice, 50(4), 311-318. (2011)
- Gehlbach, H., & Brinkworth, M. E. Measure twice, cut down error: A process for enhancing the validity of survey scales. Review of General Psychology, 15(4), 380-387. (2011)
- Gehlbach, H., Brinkworth, M. E., & Harris, A. D. Changes in teacher-student relationships. British Journal of Educational Psychology. (2011)
- Gehlbach, H. The social side of school: Why teachers need social psychology. Educational Psychology Review, 22(3), 349-362. (2010)
- Gehlbach, H., Artino, A. R., Jr., & Durning, S. AM last page: Survey development guidance for medical education researchers. Academic Medicine: Journal Of The Association Of American Medical Colleges, 85(5), 925-925. (2010)
- Gehlbach, H., Brown, S. W., Ioannou, A., Boyer, M. A., Hudson, N., Niv-Solomon, A., et al. Increasing interest in social studies: Stimulating simulations, self-efficacy, and social perspective taking. Contemporary Educational Psychology. (2008)
- Gehlbach, H. How changes in students' goal orientations relate to outcomes in social studies. The Journal of Educational Research, 99(6), 358-370. (2006)
- Gehlbach, H. A new perspective on perspective taking: A multidimensional approach to conceptualizing an aptitude. Educational Psychology Review, 16(3), 207-234. (2004)
- Gehlbach, H. Social perspective taking: A facilitating aptitude for conflict resolution, historical empathy, and social studies achievement. Theory and Research in Social Education,32(1), 39-55. (2004)
- Gehlbach, H., and Roeser, R. W. The middle way to motivating middle school students: Avoiding false dichotomies. Middle School Journal, 33(3). 39-46. (2002)
- American Educational Research Association
- American Psychological Association
- Association for Psychological Science
- Social Perspective Taking
Hunter Gehlbach's research centers around two themes, one substantive and one methodological. The substantive interest in social perspective taking, focuses on how individuals discern the thoughts, feelings, and motivations of others as well as how others' perceive situations. This research focuses on both the ability to read others accurately as well as the motivation to engage this ability. Much of this research has focused on adolescents in classroom settings. Most recently, as part of projects funded by the Spencer Foundation, he has examined the connection between social perspective taking and teacher-student relationships.
- Design and Implementation of Questionnaires
In addition to this substantive focus, Hunter is interested in the way that researchers design and implement questionnaires. Specifically, he examines how to effectively design and order questions and formulate response anchors to develop scales; he is especially concerned with how differences in questionnaire design impact respondentsí motivation and the accuracy of their responses. One of his recent projects illustrates how respondents' tendency to "anchor" with their response to an initial question and "adjust" insufficiently in responding to the subsequent item introduces substantial error into survey data.
- New Perspectives on Investigating Teacher-Student Relationships, National Academy of Education, (2011-2012)
Teacher-student relationships lie at the heart of students schooling experience. Past studies have linked these relationships with multiple student outcomes. However, how to best improve teacher-student relationships to impact these outcomes remains an open question, particularly at the secondary level. The proposed longitudinal study takes two steps towards answering this question. First, the study seeks to understand the associations between teacher-student relationships and students achievement, behavioral, motivational, and affective outcomes over time. Extending previous research by assessing both students and teachers perspectives on their overall relationships at two time points within the school year will clarify our understanding of these associations. Second, the study examines a previously unstudied precursor to teacher-student relationships. Specifically, social perspective taking the motivation and ability of teachers and students to discern one anothers thoughts and feelings is investigated as a promising basis for interventions to improve teacher-student relationships. The proposed study will generate new knowledge by tracking the associations between social perspective taking and teacher-student relationships as well as between these relationships and educational outcomes at the beginning and end of the school year. Results will ultimately inform practice by laying the foundation for developing perspective-taking interventions to improve teacher-student relationships.
- Enhancing Immersive Social Perspective Talking and Perceived Virtual Similarity to Enable Intelligent Social Relationships., National Science Foundation, (2010-2013)
This research study will conduct four experiments designed to improve social relationships in computer mediated learning environments. Peer and teacher-student relationships have frequently been associated with positive educational outcomes in classroom settings. This study breaks new ground by (1) utilizing experiments with alternative means of improving the learners relationships and (2) by examining a constellation of learning, motivation, and affective outcomes in computer mediated learning settings. Specifically, relationships between learners will be improved through transformed social interactions an approach in which the avatars representing human participants can be systematically endowed with capabilities that humans do not normally possess in these types of learning environments. In two experiments, we will improve relationships by enhancing participants capacities to take the perspective of their peers. These interventions will include both rendering the real-time facial expressions of a participant onto his/her avatar and developing a gesture-synthesis algorithm to allow participants to better infer the emotional state of others in the learning environment. In other experiments, relationships will be enhanced by augmenting the similarity of the participants. One intervention enhances similarity by extending a previously used face-morphing procedure, while the other subtly synchronizes the gestures and other behaviors of the different avatars in the learning environment. The context for all four experiments will be a multi-user virtual environment designed to help students learn about complex causality and relationships within ecosystems. We will develop a capstone exercise in the course in which students will negotiate agreements over the fate of the ecosystem based on roles they will assume for the exercise (e.g., a building developer, a representative from the Department of Fish and Wildlife, etc.).
- The Social Side of the Classroom: Precursors to and Outcomes of Teacher-Student Relationships, Spencer Foundation, (2010-2011)
This proposal outlines a study to explore TSR in middle and high schools. By acknowledging TSR as an important outcome in its own right and as a predictor of other valued educational outcomes, this research will develop important knowledge about the factors that might cultivate these relationships and the outcomes that might result from them. Specifically, the goals of this study are to (1) assess the nature of the relationship between social perspective taking, a key predictor of many interpersonal outcomes, and TSR and (2) evaluate how well TSR predict achievement, behavioral, motivational, and affective outcomes at the student level. Examining these associations across different classroom contexts provides a critical foundation for future field experiments whose aim will be to improve TSR and impact achievement, behavioral, motivational, and affective outcomes.
- The Social Side of the Classroom: Precursors to and Outcomes of Teacher-Student Relationships, American Physcological Association, (2009-2010)
This proposal outlines a study designed to explore TSR in middle and high schools. By acknowledging TSR as an important outcome in its own right and as a predictor of other valued educational outcomes, this research illuminates multiple aspects of these relationships. The goals of this study are to (1) assess the relationship between social perspective taking, a key predictor of many facets of relationships, and TSR and (2) evaluate how well TSR predict a series of achievement, behavioral, motivational, and affective outcomes. Knowing the structure and nature of these associations across a variety of classroom contexts will provide a critical foundation for a series of planned field experiments whose aim is to improve TSR and more distal achievement, behavioral, motivational, and affective outcomes.
A Usable Knowledge article about social perspective taking.