Santa Clara University

Psychology department

Jerry Burger




Santa Clara University
Department of Psychology
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA  95053-0333
Phone: 408-554-4489

Educational Background

Ph.D., University of Missouri
Social Psychology


PSYC 43: Research Methods

PSYC 102: Writing in Psychology
PSYC 150: Social Psychology
PSYC 151: Advanced Topics in Social Psychology
PSYC 160: Personality

Research and Representative Publications


My research on compliance has examined sequential-request techniques and variables that increase or decrease agreement to a request.

Burger, J. M. & Caldwell, D.C.(2011).  When opportunity knocks: The effect of a perceived unique opportunity on compliance. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 14, 671-680. PDF

Burger, J. M., Sanchez, J., Imberi, J. E., & Grande, L. R. (2009). The norm of reciprocity as an internalized social norm: Returning favors even when no one finds out. Social Influence, 4, 11-17. [PDF]

Burger, J. M., Hornisher J., Martin, V. E., Newman, G., & Pringle, S. (2007). The pique technique: Overcoming mindlessness or shifting heuristics? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 37, 2086-2096. [PDF]

Burger, J. M., Messian, N., Patel, S., del Prado, A., & Anderson, C. (2004). What a coincidence! The effects of incidental similarity on compliance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 35-43. [PDF]

Burger, J. M., Soroka, S., Gonzago, K., Murphy, E., & Somervell, E. (2001). The effect of fleeting attraction on compliance to requests. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 1578-1586. [PDF]

Burger, J. M. (1999). The foot-in-the-door compliance procedure: A multiple-process analysis and review. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 3, 303-325. [PDF]

Milgram Replication

I recently conducted a partial replication of Stanley Milgram's famous obedience studies that allowed for useful comparisons with the original investigations while protecting the well-being of participants. We found obedience rates in 2006 only slightly lower than what Milgram found 45 years earlier. Contrary to expectation, participants who saw a confederate refuse the experimenter's instructions obeyed as often as those who saw no model. Men and women did not differ in their rate of obedience, but we found some evidence that individual differences in empathetic concern and desire for control affected participants' responses.

The research was featured in the January 3, 2007 broadcast of ABC News' Primetime.

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Perception and Motivation for Personal Control

Burger, J. M., & Lynn, A. L. (2005). Superstitious behavior among American and Japanese professional baseball players. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 27, 71-76. [PDF]

Burger, J. M. (1992). Desire for control: Personality, social and clinical perspectives. New York: Plenum.

Burger, J. M. (1989). Negative reactions to increases in perceived personal control. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 246-256. [PDF]


Social Norms

Burger, J. M., Bell, H., Harvey, K., Johnson, J., Stewart, C., Dorian, K., & Swedroe, M. (2010). Nutritious or delicious? The effect of descriptive norm information on food choice. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. [PDF]

Burger, J. M. & Shelton, M. (2011) Changing everyday health behaviors through descriptive norm manipulations. Social influcence, 6, 69-77.PDF

Burger, J. M., LaSalvia, C. T., Hendricks, L.A., Mehdipour, T., &Neudeck, E. M. (2011). Partying before the party gets started: The effects of descriptive norms on pre-gaming behavior. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 33, 220-227. PDF

» More Publications

Returning Home

I recently published "Returning Home:Reconnecting with our Childhoods" ( Rowman-Littlefield). The book describes my research on people who visit childhood homes. That research finds that millions of Americans have made a trip specifically to see the places that comprised the landscape of their childhood. They visit homes they once lived in, as well as other signifcant places from their past, to reconnect with the person they once were. The visits are often emotional and sometimes therapeutic. The book describes the reasons people make these trips and the experiences they encounter.  You can obtain more information about the book and the research at


Personality Scales

Preference for Solitude Scale
Desirability of Control Scale

specialissue copySocial Influence Special Issue

I recently served as the guest editor for a special issue of Social Influence, “Individual Differences and Social Influence.” The articles selected for this volume demonstrate how social influence researchers can obtain a greater understanding of the phenomena they study by incorporating individual difference variables into their research. Click here for more information about the special issue.

Personality Textbook

personality 8th

My undergraduate textbook, Personality, is now in its eighth edition (2011, Wadsworth/Cengage). The book is organized to reflect my belief that the study of personality should not be limited to either the traditional theories approach or to a strict empirical presentation. Rather, I have maintained from the first edition that a full understanding of personality requires an examination of theory and research. After an introductory chapter and a chapter on personality research methods, the book is divided into seven sections. Each section reflects a different approach to understanding personality -- Freudian, Neo-Freudian, Trait, Biological, Humanistic, Behavioral/Social Learning, and Cognitive

Each of these sections contains two chapters. The first chapter presents information about theory, assessment and application. The second is devoted to relevant research. Each of the research chapters is divided into three to five research topics. Each topic represents a well-developed area of personality research with ties to the corresponding theories. For example, the topics for the Freudian research chapter are dream interpretation, defense mechanism, Freud's theory of humor, and hypnosis. The topics in the trait research chapter include achievement motivation, Type A, social anxiety, emotions, and optimism-pessimism. The chapters reflect my belief that students learn about research best by seeing programs of research, rather than a few isolated examples. There are 26 research topics presented in depth in the book.

For more information, click here