Recently, research in social psychology has shown that timely interventions, even brief, can improve student achievement and close performance gaps based on race and gender. Geoffrey Cohen will review some of the research on such "wise" interventions, place them in a larger interdisciplinary context, and consider their implications for educational practice, policy, and our understanding of how and when people change.
Cohen's research examines processes related to identity maintenance and their implications for social problems. One primary aim of his research is the development of theory-driven, rigorously tested intervention strategies that further an understanding of the processes underpinning social problems and that offer solutions to alleviate them. Two key questions lie at the core of his research: “Given that a problem exists, what are its underlying processes?” And, “Once identified, how can these processes be overcome?” One reason for this interest in intervention is his belief that a useful way to understand psychological processes and social systems is to try to change them. He is also interested in how and when seemingly brief interventions, attuned to underlying psychological processes, produce large and long-lasting psychological and behavioral change.