March 11, 2019

WPA to Honor Siegel for Work on Depression, Drug Prevention, Organ Donation and More

Jason Siegel at the Western Psychological Association’s 2015 conference in Las Vegas.
MAKING SENSE OF DEPRESSION: Siegel discusses ways to get people with depression to ask for help at the Western Psychological Association’s 2015 conference in Las Vegas.

As an undergraduate at Brooklyn College, Jason Siegel thought that he could help people with depression—something, he said, that he was familiar with in his own life—by having a career in television. He wanted to create TV programming that would educate and help them.

But Siegel said he missed the “non-stop experience of learning” in the academic world, and when he realized that a scholarly career in psychology could combine his passion for learning with helping people, he decided to switch gears.

“I knew academia was exactly the place I needed to be,” said Siegel, an applied social psychologist who is a professor of psychology in the Division of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences.

Today, as a prolific scholar and researcher (with 23 peer-reviewed articles and six book chapters published between 2016 and the present), Siegel has focused on a range of issues related to social psychology and changing people’s health behavior.

For his many research efforts, Siegel will be honored by the Western Psychological Association (WPA) with the 2019 Social Responsibility Award. The award will be presented to Siegel during the WPA’s upcoming conference in Pasadena.

“It is an absolute honor, particularly knowing the great people who have won this award in the years prior,” he said. “There is no better feeling than knowing the work you love to do is recognized and results in people’s lives being improved.”

Past recipients of the award include CGU’s own Stewart Donaldson (who nominated Siegel for the award), William Crano, Allen Omoto, and Stuart Oskamp, as well as UC Irvine’s Roxane Cohen Silver, Oregon’s Anthony Biglan, and others. The award honors scholars whose work promotes and increases social justice at the societal and individual levels.

“There is no better feeling than knowing the work you love to do is recognized and results in people’s lives being improved.”

In Siegel’s case, that work has included his research on persuasive strategies and methodologies for depression and drug prevention (a topic he shares with mentor and colleague William Crano) as well as the intriguing area of organ donation (with CGU colleague Eusebio Alvaro). Many people support the idea of organ donation, but far fewer people actually register to become donors themselves. Why not? Siegel asks in his research. Where is the disconnect?

“I love the work I do in this domain because I am confident that it has led to lives being saved,” he said of his various research efforts on organ donation.

As the director of the university’s Depression and Persuasion Research Lab and co-director of the Institute for Health Psychology & Prevention Science, Siegel is the principal investigator for more than $2.6 million in grants funds since 2014. He has published a high amount of papers not only as sole author or with faculty colleagues, but with his students as well.

“I am beyond lucky to be at CGU. I have been able to thrive because of the graduate students that surround me, as well as the colleagues who have guided me,” he said. “The students’ excitement keeps me excited. Their passion keeps me passionate. I am so fortunate to work with them and with the most supportive colleagues a professor could ever ask for.”

Visit here for more information about the 2019 WPA Social Responsibility Award and upcoming conference.