Susan Snycerski


Current Research Activities

In our Cultural Pharmacology Laboratory, we have been engaged in research in three general areas. One research topic involves examining attitudes and perceptions of cannabis use under a variety of conditions. Another area of research involves sports psychology and sports marketing. Our final line of research has been examining the effects of COVID-19 on measures related to stress management, drug use, and other related behaviors. We are currently working on poster presentations that have been accepted at the North American Society for Sport Management and the Western Psychological Association Convention. We have also submitted proposals to the Twelfth International Conference on Sport and Society. I am continuing my work as an SJSU Public Voices Fellow for The OpEd Project. Two of my opinion pieces regarding COVID-19 and the importance of wearing masks, distancing socially, and getting the vaccine when allowed have been published in Psychology Today and the San Francisco Chronicle. 

Research Connections to Current Events

My opinion piece in Psychology Today, which was published in September of 2020, examined why the politicization of mask-wearing is so dangerous for everyone. At the time that was written, multiple fires were raging through our state and Hurricane Laura was expected to produce conditions that were “unsurvivable.” In those cases, where death was a possible outcome, people listened to Cal Fire and the National Hurricane Center and heeded their warnings. They took appropriate action to save their lives. At the same time, we had over 190,000 deaths from COVID-19, with a prediction of 300,000 by December 1 of 2020, yet people across the country refused to wear masks, which could result in death. Using my knowledge as a behavioral psychologist, I discussed the variables contributing people refusing to wear masks. My Psychology Today piece also resulted in being interviewed by the Associated Press for a piece entitled: California’s health order falling on many deaf ears, which was picked up by 268 media outlets across the United States. I discussed how pandemic fatigue was setting in and contributing to less people heeding health orders and the impact of conflicting messages at the federal, state, and local levels. For my piece in the San Francisco Chronicle, which was published in January, 2021, I wrote about the importance of taking the vaccine when allowed to do so. By this time, over 430,000 deaths had occurred. My piece explored the impact of the Trump administration’s lies and misinformation about COVID-19 and their disregard for following CDC guidelines resulted in a lack of public trust in government agencies. I discussed the benefits of getting the vaccine and how doing so could help save lives and help end the pandemic. I implored Americans to trust science, wear a mask, distance socially, avoid indoor gatherings, and get the vaccine.

Personal Connections to Research

Some personal factors that led me to focus on COVID-19 and people’s reluctance to wear masks and get the vaccine stemmed from frustration and sadness over the number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths that were increasing on a daily basis at the time. Using techniques I learned from my SJSU Public Voices Fellowship with The OpEd Project, I was able to harness those emotions and use them as motivation to engage in scholarship and write for a general audience at the national level. I was inspired to use my voice and encourage my fellow citizens to trust science and follow CDC guidelines to help us put the pandemic behind us. I was also inspired by my undergraduate and graduate student research assistants this past year. In spite of having to move to online classes in March 0f 2020, they continued to regularly attend our virtual lab meetings and contribute to our research projects, in addition to their other obligations of school and work.

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COVID-19, sport consumer behavior, sport fan behavior, cannabis use, drug use