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Shige Oishi, Ph.D.

Shige Oishi, Ph.D.

Shige Oishi is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia. He has published over 140 articles and chapters on culture, social ecology, and well-being, and two books: 「幸せを科学する」”Doing The Science of Happiness” Shinyosha, Tokyo, Japan in Japanese in 2009 and “The Psychological Wealth of Nations: Do Happy People Make a Happy Society?” from Wiley-Blackwell in 2012. He served as an associate editor for Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin from 2008 to 2010, and was an associate editor for the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology between 2011 and 2015. 


Why did you join SPSP?

1. SPSP is the society for my Ph.D. (personality and social psychology). 2. Membership was very cheap, and 3. It comes with PSPB free! Truly a win-win membership for me at that time (even now).


What led you to choose a career in personality and social psychology?

In college, I was interested in mid-life crisis among Japanese "salary" men. I wrote a thesis on that topic. I wanted to pursue it. Initially I started out in counseling psychology, but I quickly realized that I had no talent in that (clinical end) area. So I pursued my Ph.D. in personality and social psychology. I went to Illinois to work with Ed Diener. Luckily, there were many cultural and social psychologists at Illinois at that time (e.g., Harry Triandis, Dov Cohen, Jerry Clore, Bob Wyer, Eva Pomerantz). So I was able to get a strong training in personality, experimental social psychology, and cultural psychology. Subjective well-being and culture were emerging topics at that time (I was in Illinois from 1995 to 2000). So choosing a career in personality and social psychology was obvious to me. There was so much intellectual excitement at that time.


Briefly summarize your current research, and any future research interests you plan to pursue. 

My collaborators, students, and I are pursuing several lines of research, including residential mobility and morality ("do different kinds of morality and moral sentiments emerge in mobile and stable places?"), financial and psychological indebtedness ("does psychological indebtedness prevent people from borrowing too much?", walkability and upward social mobility ("are walkable places more mobile in terms of SES?", income inequality ("what are the psychological consequences of income inequality?", psychologically rich life ("A happy life, a meaningful life, or a psychologically rich life? That is the question).


What is your most memorable SPSP Annual Convention experience?

The most memorable would be SPSP 2002; Personality pre-conference, where Walter Mischel hosted the symposium on culture and personality. I was a speaker, along with Dick Nisbett, Hazel Markus, and Yoshi Kashima. I was the 2nd year assistant professor at the University of Minnesota at that time, and I was just thrilled to be there with those luminaries (my idols). After the conference, Walter Mischel saw me with my wife and son (then just 6 month old), and squeezed my son's cheek. I was thinking..."Wow, Kai (my son) met Walter Mischel at age 6 months!"

Equally memorable was the SPSP 2001 (I think), when my advisor Ed Diener was the president of SPSP. Seeing him in the presidential symposium was awesome. He gave a talk along with Dan Gilbert and Barb Fredrickson.


How has being a member of SPSP helped to advance your career?

SPSP has been central to my professional career. My first first-author paper was published in PSPB. My first editorial position (associate editor) was with PSPB. SPSP has been inspiring in terms of research, theorizing, and other professional developments.


Do you have any advice for individuals who wish to pursue a career in personality and social psychology?

I am really not in a position to give such an advice, but being curious and having research skills (quantitative in particular) will be helpful in succeeding in personality psychology, I think. You just have to find lines of research that are personally interesting and/or meaningful, and hope that there are some others who find them interesting as well!


Outside of psychology, how do you spend your free time?

I have two kids (8th and 5th grades) who play baseball. So I feel like I am spending all my free time reading, watching, and thinking about how to help improve their baseball skills, as well as playing catch with them. But, besides my obsession as a baseball father, I spend a lot of time reading the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Dwell, and novels.

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