Suzanne Thompson

Emerita Professor of Psychology
With Pomona Since: 1982
  • Expertise


    Psychologist Suzanne Thompson conducts research on how people react to personal threats, particularly those with delayed consequences. For example, many health and financial security threats require protective action now in order to avoid potential negative consequences.

    With funding from a NSF grant, she and her undergraduate research group are investigating a variety of ways in which different perceptions of threat influence the processing of threatening information and guide health and safety behaviors.

    Research Interests

    How threat orientations affect the processing of information and guide health and safety behaviors

    Areas of Expertise


    • Social Psychology
    • Health and Medicine
    • Research Methodology
    • Environmental Psychology
  • Work


    With S. Ting. (2012). Avoidance denial vs. optimistic denial in reaction to the threat of future cardiovascular disease. Health, Education, and Behavior 39(5),620-629; 2012.

    With M. M. Schlehofer, A. Gonzalez, & E. Denison. Reactions to a health threat: Dispositional threat orientations and message characteristics. British Journal of Health Psychology, 16, 344-358, 2011.


    With T. Robbins, R. Payne, & C. Castillo, C. Message derogation and self-distancing denial: Situational and dispositional influences on the use of denial to protect against a threatening message. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 41, 2816-2836, 2011.


    With M. M. Schlehofer. Control, denial, and heightened sensitivity reactions to personal threat: Testing the generalizability of the threat orientation approach. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38, 1070-1083, 2008.

    With M. Schlehofer, and M. Bovin, "The Measurement of Threat Orientations", American Journal of Health Behaviors, 30, 147-157, 2006.

    With D. Kyle, A. Osgood, R. Quist, D. Phillips, and M. McClure, "Illusory Control and Motives for Control: The Role of Connection and Intentionality", Motivation and Emotion, 28, 315-330, 2004.

    "Illusions of Control", in Cognitive Illusions (R. F. Pohl, ed., Psychology Press, 2004).

  • Education


    University of California, Los Angeles

    Master of Arts
    California State University, Long Beach

    Bachelor of Arts
    Loyola Marymount University

    Recent Courses Taught

    • Psychology of Health & Medicine
    • Social Psychology
  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    National Science Foundation Research Grant, 2006-2009

    National Science Foundation Research Grant, 2002-2003

    John Randolph and Dora Haynes Foundation, Research Grant, 1991 and 1997

    Hewlett Foundation, Grant, 1993

    American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR), Grant, 1992

    Hughes Medical Institute Summer Research, Grant, 1992 and 1989

    Irvine Foundation, Grant, 1992