Robert J. Pellegrini, Ph.D.

Image: Robert Pellegrini



    • Ph.D., Psychology, Univ Of Denver, Colorado, United States, 1968
    • Master of Arts, Psychology, Univ Of Denver, Colorado, United States, 1966
    • Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, Clark Univ, Massachusetts, United States, 1963

Biographical Information

In addition to his role as a faculty member, San Jose State University Professor Emeritus Of Psychology Bob Pellegrini also served terms as SJSU Associate Dean for Research, Director of Sponsored Programs, and Psychology Department Chair. He received his B. A. degree from Clark University Phi Beta Kappa and with High Honors in Psychology. Supported by National Institute for Mental Health fellowships, he earned his M. A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Denver, with clinical and research pre-doctoral internships at The University of Colorado School of Medicine, Children's Asthmatic Research Institute and National Jewish Hospitals in Denver, followed by National Science Foundation-sponsored post-doctoral studies at Stanford University.  Except for 1988-89 as a Visiting Research Associate in Psychology at the University of California Santa Cruz, he spent his entire career at SJSU.

Bob’s auditorium sections of introductory psychology enrolled thousands of students over his 42+ years at SJSU. He also mentored dozens more in individual studies, undergraduate honors and graduate thesis projects, and in a variety of outreach programs including Operations Share and Abrazo dedicated to helping underrepresented minority student in San Jose's East Side Union School District in the 1960's and 70's, and later as an instructor in the Unfinished Journey program initiated by SJSU Professor of Education Dr. Tony Carillo. He also mentored in SJSU's McNair (minority) Scholars, Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) and Minority Biomedical Support (MBRS) programs, and dozens of California Department of Corrections inmates in a B. A. degree program he co-founded at C.T.F.Soledad.

Among the instructional materials he created to help students maximize their learning gains, were eight study guides published by The Dorsey Press, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Addison-Wesley-Longman, and Pearson Education. Bob’s scholarly work and commitment to giving SJSU students “the best introductory psychology course available anywhere at any price” has been acknowledged in local, regional, and national awards including SJSU's College of Social Science's Warburton Award for Scholarly Achievement, and outstanding teacher of the year awards from SJSU, the Western Psychological Association (WPA), and Psi Chi (the national honor society for psychology majors), and keynote talks at prestigious educational events such as the Lewis M. Terman Master Lecture Series.

Eighty-sixth president of the Western Psychological Association, the oldest and largest regional professional association of psychologists in the United States, in 1965 Professor Pellegrini (along with Dr. Robert A. Hicks, his friend and collaborator of more than 50 years) conducted and reported in 1965, research challenging as meaningless on quantitative methodological grounds, the then (1960's) widely-quoted white supremacist arguments of psychometric "experts" concerning statistically significant race differences in IQ scores.

Along the same philosophical lines as the latter research, in his doctoral dissertation project in 1968, he invented and tested a social psychological laboratory method for the unobtrusive (linguistic as well as behavioral) measurement of what he called in the title of that work, “psychological distance,” wherein African- or white-American assistants interviewed people identified by a widely-used attitude scale of that era, as high or low in their racist attitudes toward African-Americans. His later research ranged from studies of the validity of astrological descriptions of personality, early developmental exposure to toxic radiation on adult predispositions to criminal violence, to the effects of color on human functioning in both laboratory and applied settings, studies of impression-formation, the effects of teacher expectations on students' educational outcomes, political identification and attributed causes of homelessness, the medical significance of adult attachment styles, the effects of anticipated opportunity on performance, and the storied roots of identity formation as the key to understanding everything about how and why people think, believe, feel, see, say, and do as they do.  In addition to dozens of articles in peer-reviewed journals, Pellegrini published four books: Psychology For Correctional Education: Facilitating Human Development In Prison And Court School Settings; Between Fathers & Sons: Critical Incident Narratives in the Development of Men's Lives; Identities for Life and Death: Can We Save Us From Our Toxically-Storied Lives?, and Education For The Joy of It: How To Thrive, Not Just Survive in High School, College and Beyond.

Continuing his award-winning participation in organized athletic competition, in 2018 at the age of 77, he was a finalist in the 40+ year-old class and qualified for entry in the National Physique Committee and International Federation of Bodybuilders national championships in the 50+ year-old class at the Muscle Sports contest in San Jose – apparently the oldest man to have done so in the history of that longest-running such show in northern California. In 2019, at the age of 78, he was again a finalist in both the 40+ and 50+ classes of that show.