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 Ashthmatic Research Institute and National Jewish Hospitals in Denver, followed by National Science Foundation-sponsored post-doctoral studies at Stanford University.

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 minority outreach programs including the McNair 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 commitment to give SJSU students “the best introductory psychology course available anywhere at any price” was acknowledged in local, regional, and national outstanding teaching awards to him from SJSU, the Western Psychological Association (WPA), Psi Chi (the national honor society for psychology majors), and invited contributions to a number of prestigious educational events such as the Lewis M. Terman Master Lecture Series.

A Past-President of the Western Psychological Association, the oldest and largest regional professional association of psychologists in the United States, early in his career Professor Pellegrini conducted pioneering research into nonverbal measures of affect as indices of racial prejudice, and research challenging as meaningless on quantitative methodological grounds the then (early 1960's) widely-quoted arguments of psychometric "experts" concerning statistically significant race differences in IQ scores. His later research ranged from studies of the effects of color on human functioning in both laboratory and applied settings, to studies of impression-formation, 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.

A unifying theme throughout Bob’s professional life as a social scientist/educator, is a commitment to illuminate and promote actualization of human potential through the study of social cognition. Having received a number of honors for his work (e.g., The Warburton Award for Scholarly Achievement, Fellowship in the European Academy of Color Sciences and the Western Psychological Association), Bob has authored and co-authored over 120 presentations delivered at annual meetings of regional and national professional associations, been an invited guest and keynote speaker at dozens of public and private organizational meetings, published more than 100 articles in professional journals, seven chapters in edited books, twelve manuals and study guides, and four books.

Based on his outreach work with maximum security prison inmates, Pellegrini’s Psychology for Correctional Education: Facilitating Human Development in Prison and Court School Settings(Payne Thomas Publishers), stands as a classical reference in the field it defines. His book,Between Fathers and Sons: Critical Incident Narratives in the Development of Men’s Lives(Haworth Press), has been acclaimed nationally in reviews by eminent scholars.

He is available as his schedule permits, for talks and workshops focusing on stories that shape the indentity and thus the destiny of individuals and ultimately society in every aspect of life -- for better or worse, for good or evil. His most recent work in progress is a program he refers to as "Life Construction 101: Our Storied Self-Scripts As They Impact The Person, Group, Nation, And World We Become." This program addresses issues of human development in the contexts of health, education, and welfare in a world where all three are threatened synergistically by cultural, social, political, economic, and ecological pressures of unprecedented magnitude.

The broader objective of what Pellegrini calls "The Identities For Life" project outlined in his book from which the project title derives, is to promote a universal sense of belonging to what he refers to as a "Global Life System" -- a mind set he believes is crucial for substantively effective efforts to enhance the quality and ultimately the sustainability of life on earth, in a world beset by challenges to which we may otherwise respond by turning increasingly against each other.

Bob makes no secret of the fact that whatever he may do or wherever he may do it, a part of him will always be at SJSU, doing the work he loved to do with his students and colleagues. In his own words: “I never for a moment took for granted how blessed I was with the opportunity to have served this great university. I continue to take pride and joy in telling about the scholarly, creative, and public service achievements of our magnificent students, alumni, and faculty. What a kick it was to have shared in all of that throughout my adult life."

In Dr. Pellegrini's "Self, Soul, and Society" presentations, he focuses on self-scripts as they impact the psychology of groups of all sizes from dyadic (two-person) relationships to nation states. Herein he represents his argument for an urgently needed, peaceful revolution in social consciousness from the point of view that identity is a key determinant of how people think, perceive the world, feel, and act as they play out their roles on the stage in the theater of real life -- for good or evil.

His persistent emphasis is on the idea that identity and thus major elements of human destiny are modifiable. In his words, "It's largely a matter of choice. Which of our inner wolves shall we feed? The good one or the evil one. It's up to us. For now at least, it's up to us."

Dr. Pellegrni's latest books are Identities for Life and Death: Can we save us from our toxically-storied selves?, and the Identities for Life and Death Forever Daily Message Calendar based on that book. In addition to availability via retail booksellers worldwide, these titles are currently published and distributed by AuthorHouse Publishing on whose website ( summaries, overviews, and previews as well as copies of the books are availabe at the "bookstore" link. More information on the background and objectives of this project is given in Bob Pellegrini's video entitled "Identities for Life and Death."

In a recent interview, Dr. Pellegrini said this:

"God knows I could have done a lot more reading and writing about life if I wasn't so determined to live it in a multidimensional way. To me, living life didn't mean traveling to see things or watching others do things; it meant doing things and experiencing adventure in as many different ways as I could. Many of those adventures were in the high desert wildernesses of Nevada, the Sierra and Siskiyou mountains, hiking, dirt bike riding, alpine and Nordic skiing. Competitive powerlifting, tennis, and bodybuilding in the subcultures of local, regional, and national contests added dimensions of richness to my experience and bonds of friendship I count among my grandest blessings. I paid a high price for the eclecticism that was so integral to my own identity-defining narrative; but I never wanted to do it any other way."

Footnote: Dr. Pellegrini again qualified to compete in the USA National Bodybuilding Championships by placing 2nd and 1st, respectively, in the Ultra and Grand Master's division finals of the nationally-sanctioned (NPC) 2010 San Francisco and 2011 San Jose Championships.