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Jerry Burger

Jerry Burger

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Jerry Burger has conducted research in a number of areas of personality and social psychology. These areas include obedience, compliance, perception of and motivation for personal control, and social norms. He also has published a book on attachment to childhood homes. Burger also is a fiction writer. His novel, The Shadows of 1915, examines the generational effects of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. You can learn more about the novel and other fiction credits at

Obedience. Burger 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. The research was featured in the January 3, 2007, broadcast of ABC News’ Primetime. You can purchase a copy of the broadcast at: You can read some reactions to the research here:

New York Times editorial:
APA Monitor:

The research also is featured in the January 2009 issue of American Psychologist, along with several commentaries about the work. Burger expanded his thinking on obedience in a recent article in the Journal of Social Issues (2014, 70, 489-500). He argues that Milgram's participants responded to four key situational variables and that the findings fit nicely with research on social influence processes in other areas.

Compliance. Burger has explored a number of factors that increase the likelihood that people will say yes to a request. In particular, he has examined how individuals rely on rules-of-thumb in a fairly mindless fashion when responding to requests and how others exploit these otherwise useful processes. He also has conducted research and written reviews on sequential-request techniques used to increase compliance. This includes work on the foot-in-the-door technique, the low-ball procedure and the that's-not-all-procedure.

Perception of and Motivation for Personal Control. Burger has conducted extensive research on individual differences in the extent to which people are motivated to feel in control of the events in their lives. He developed the Desirability of Control Scale to measure this trait. The scale has been translated into dozens of languages and has been used in hundreds of studies over the past few decades. In 1992, Burger published a book reviewing the first decade of research with the DC Scale.

Social Norms. Recently Burger has conducted research on the effects of descriptive norms (i.e., what other people do) on a number of behaviors. These behaviors include food choices, binge drinking, and everyday health behaviors.

Childhood Homes. In his book, Returning Home: Reconnecting with our Childhoods (2011, Rowman & Littlefield), Burger explores the emotional attachments people often develop with their childhood homes. The book presents a theory of home attachment and describes the experiences individuals have when they return years later to visit the landscapes of their childhoods.

Burger's undergraduate Personality textbook (Cengage) is now in its ninth edition. The book bridges the traditional theories approach to understanding personality with current research in the field.

Primary Interests:

  • Interpersonal Processes
  • Motivation, Goal Setting
  • Personality, Individual Differences
  • Persuasion, Social Influence
  • Social Cognition

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Journal Articles:

Other Publications:

  • Burger, J. M. (2017). And the wisdom to know the difference: Locus of control and desire for control. In F. J. Infurna & J. W. Reich (Eds.), Perceived control: Theory, research, and practice in the first 50 years. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Burger, J. M. (2012). Basking in reflected glory and compliance with requests from people like us. In D. Kendrick, S. Braver, & N. Goldstein (Eds.), Six degrees of social influence. New York: Oxford University Press.

Courses Taught:

  • Advanced Topics in Social Psychology
  • Advanced Topics in Social Psychology
  • Personality
  • Research Methods
  • Social Psychology
  • Writing in Psychology

Jerry Burger
Department of Psychology
Santa Clara University
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, California 95053
United States of America

  • Phone: (408) 544-4489

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