Professor Craig A. Anderson

Background  (click here to download Professor Anderson's vita in pdf format.)

Craig A. Anderson grew up on a small family farm in northern Indiana. In his senior year he was named his high school's Athlete of the Year and the region's Kiwanis Club Athlete of the Year (following in his brother's footsteps, the only siblings to have won this award). He graduated as the co-valedictorian. After graduating from high school he joined the U.S. Army Reserve. He received his B.A. in psychology and sociology from Butler University in 1976. His M.A. in psychology from Stanford University was awarded in 1978; Lee Ross was his M.A. advisor. He received his Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University in 1980, with J. Merrill Carlsmith serving as his dissertation advisor. 

Professor Anderson was an Assistant (1980-1985) and Associate (1985-1988) Professor at Rice University, and a Visiting Professor at Ohio State (1984-1985). He joined the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1988 and became Full Professor there in 1992. He has served on Faculty Councils at Rice (1987-1988) and at Missouri (1995-1996). He also served as Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Psychology at Missouri from 1988-1996, and as Director of Graduate Admissions from 1988-1991. He was Faculty Advisor to Psi Chi (1991-1996) and to the Graduate Association of Students in Psychology (1992-1996). He also served as President, and incorporated the Stephen's Elementary Parents' Organization, 1994-1995.

He joined the Iowa State University faculty in 1999, as Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology. In 2004, Professor Anderson was presented with the "Iowa State University Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement in Research." In 2005, he was awarded the title "Distinguished Professor," the highest faculty honor given by Iowa State University. He served six years as Department Chair, completing his term in 2005.

In 2007, he founded the Center for the Study of Violence.

Professor Anderson was a founding member of the Society of Southwestern Social Psychologists and served as its President in 1986-1987. He also played an important role in the growth and development of Social Psychologists in Texas (SPIT), and was a founding member of Social Psychologists Around Missouri (SPAM; "Missouri" was later changed to "Midwest"). He has served on the Executive Council of the International Society for Research on Aggression (1997-2006), and currently is the President-Elect of the Society (2008-2010). He served as President in 2010-2012.

Professor Anderson's teaching and research awards include:

  • Psi Chi "Certificate of Appreciation--in recognition of outstanding service as Psi Chi Faculty Advisor": Presented by the National President (Bernard Lubin), 1992
  • Psi Chi "Professor of the Year" Award, 1994
  • Gold Chalk Award for "Outstanding Mentorship & Contributions to Graduate Education," 1996
  • Psi Chi "Certificate of Appreciation--in recognition of outstanding service as Psi Chi Faculty Advisor": Presented by the National President (Karen A. Jackson), 1996
  • Center for Successful Parenting Article Award, Honorable Mention, 2002, for Anderson & Dill, 2000, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 772-790.
  • Center for Successful Parenting Article Award, Grand Prize, 2002, for Bushman & Anderson, 2001, American Psychologist , 56, 477-489.
  • Iowa State University Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement in Research, 2004
  • Iowa State University Distinguished Professor, 2005 (the University's highest faculty award)
  • 2nd most highly cited scholar in social psychology textbooks, 2006. Most recent Ph.D. among the top 10 cited scholars. Click here to download the article.
  • American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientist Lecturer, 2010
  • Phi Beta Kappa Foundation Member, Indiana Theta Chapter, Butler University, 2010
  •  One of only 31 social psychology scholars identified as in the top 10% of both career and recent citations, in a 2010 Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin article.
  • Chapter by Saleem & Anderson (2012) part of book that received the 2013 American Psychology-Law Society Book Award.
  • 2011 theoretical article in Psychology of Violence (with DeWall and Bushman) was chosen in 2012 as one of the "Best of 2011 Violence Research" articles.
  • Excellence in Communicating Psychology to the Public Award, Iowa State University Department of Psychology, 2014.
  • 2014: Selected as an "Eminent Psychologist of the Modern Era" by Diener, E., Oishi, S., & Park, J. Y. (2014). An incomplete list of eminent psychologists of the modern era, Archives of Scientific Psychology, 2, 20-32. DOI: One of 200 eminent psychologists "Post-World War II" based on citation metrics, textbook page coverage, and major awards.
  • In 2017, the Society for the Psychological Study of Psychological Issues awarded Dr. Anderson its top award, the Kurt Lewin Award, Presented for "outstanding contributions to the development and integration of psychological research and social action."He shared that award with long-time collaborator Dr. Brad Bushman.
  • In 2018, Dr. Anderson was awarded the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s Distinguished Scholar Award, the society’s “senior career award that recognizes the broad scope and integrative nature of scholarship in personality and social psychology."
  • In 2021, Dr. Anderson was awarded the American Psychological Association's Division 46 (Media Psychology) Distinguished Lifetime Contributions to Media Psychology & Technology award.
  • In 2021, Butler University awarded Dr. Anderson its Robert Todd Duncan Alumni Achievement Award,  "presented to an alumna or alumnus whose class graduated at least 15 years prior to the presentation of the award. It recognizes personal and/or professional achievement which brings honor and distinction to the University and individual attainment and/or contributions for the betterment of society."
  • For more biographical information see:


    Anderson, C. A. (2016). Anderson, Craig A. In V. Zeigler-Hill & T. K. Shackelford (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences, (pp. 1-7). Springer International Publishing. Published online 29 November 2016.


    Anderson, C. A. (2016). Human aggression and violence. In Robert J. Sternberg, Susan T. Fiske, & Donald J. Foss (Eds.). Scientists Making a Difference:  One Hundred Eminent Behavioral and Brain Scientists Talk about Their Most Important Contributions. (pp. 327-331). New York: NY: Cambridge University Press.

Professor Anderson's public policy contributions include:

  • Participated in the American Psychological Association's Science Advocacy Workshop on Interactive Media and Children (March 11-13). This included drafting proposed changes to a National Science Foundation reauthorization bill, and presenting it to key congressional staff on Capitol Hill. The proposed changes were incorporated into the final version of the bill. Click here for a story on the workshop.
  • Testified at the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on "The Impact of Interactive Violence on Children."  Tuesday, March 21, 2000. Click here to access this testimony. Click here to access the Senate web site with links to this hearing.
  • Anderson & Dill 2000 article influenced the Indianapolis Ordinance increasing parental control over their children's access to violent video games. Consulted with the City of Indianapolis attorneys involved in subsequent lawsuit by the video arcade industry to block enforcement of the ordinance. (Indianapolis won this case, but lost in a higher court.) Click here to access the Anderson & Dill article
  • Consulted with and testified to the St. Louis County Council and Justice, Health, and Welfare Committee on a proposed ordinance to increase parental control over their children's access to violent video games and movies (October 12, 2000). The ordinance passed and survived initial court challenges, and later was overturned.
  • Participated in the conference on "Digital Childhood: A Research Agenda on Human Development & Technology," held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on October 23, 2000. Click here for the conference agenda, summaries, and webcast
  • Served on the Media Violence Expert Advisory Panel for the Surgeon General's report on Youth Violence (August-December, 2000). Unfortunately, the chapter prepared by the panel was eventually reduced (and weakened, we think) by the Surgeon General's staff to small section of the final report. Click here for the final report .
  • Served on two panels at the public policy conference titled "Playing by the Rules: Video Games and Cultural Policy." The Cultural Policy Center, University of Chicago, October 27, 2001.
  • Received two awards in 2002 from the Center for Successful Parenting for influential research articles. One was an "Honorable Mention" award (with Karen Dill, click here to access this article); the other was the Grand Prize (with Brad Bushman, click here to access this article).
  • Gave a Plenary Address titled Media Violence, Video Games, & Societal Violence at the 16th Penetanguishene Conference, "Managing violence in the new millennium: Global, Institutional, and Community Perspectives." Hosted by The Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, Midland, Ontario, Canada, June 12-14, 2002.
  • Gave a Plenary Address titled "Deleterious Effects of Playing Violent Video Games" at the 34th Conference of the International Simulation and Gaming Association, August 25-29, 2003.
  • Gave the keynote address at a seminar on "Violence in the Media and its Effects on Children " at the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, on September 11, 2003. The seminar  and subsequent panel discussion was organized by Young Media Australia and the Victorian Parenting Centre, and was co-hosted by the Victorian Department of Human Services and the Paediatric and Child Health Division of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.
  • Gave a Keynote Address titled "Violent Video Games and Other Violent Entertainment Media" at the International Ratings Conference on "Classification in a Convergent World," Sydney, Australia, September 21-24, 2003. Sponsored by the Office of Film and Literature Classification, Federal Government of Australia.
  • Filed a comment in response to the July 2004 Federal Communications Commission Notice of Inquiry concerning "Violent Television Programming And Its Impact on Children."
  • Gave a plenary address to the National Summit on Preventing Civil Disturbances, on "Influential Factors in Campus Disturbances," November 10, 2005, Ames, Iowa.
  • Consulted with Governor Blagojevich's office and attorneys and testified in the court case involving the video game industry's challenge to the 2005 Illinois law requiring parental consent for those under age 18 to access certain types of violent video games.
  • Co-hosted the October 20-21, 2006 National Summit on Video Games, Youth, and Public Policy (with a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), along with the National Institute on Media and the Family.
  • Gave a series of keynote addresses in early 2008 the behavioral, cognitive, and emotional effects of playing various types of video games, at the Mid-South Psychology Conference (Memphis, Tennessee), the Midwestern Conference on Professional Psychology (Owatonna, Minnesota), the Conference on Human Development (Indianapolis, Indiana), and the Future of Children Conference (Princeton, New Jersey).
  • In the summer of 2008, met with leading psychologists, educators, governmental officials, and the press in Romania to discuss the effects of media violence, especially violent video games, on youth; gave an invited address on "Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents" at the West University of Timisoara, July 14, 2008, Timisoara, Romania.
  • Gave a plenary address at the Japanese Society of Personality Psychology convention in November, 2008, in Tokyo, Japan.
  • While on sabbatical in the spring of 2009, gave a series of lectures and addresses on video game effects and on the implications of global warming for violence and conflict throughout New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, and Israel.

Professor Anderson has been awarded "Fellow" status in the following organizations:

  • Charter Fellow, American Psychological Society, 1988 (now the Association for Psychological Science)
  • Fellow, Division 8, Society of Personality & Social Psychology, American Psychological Association, 1990
  • Fellow of the International Society for Research on Aggression, 1993
  • Fellow of the American Association of Applied and Preventive Psychology, 1995
  • Charter Fellow, Midwestern Psychological Association, 2010
  • Fellow, The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, 2015


Research Interests  

My main research interests are in social and personality psychology, with a strong emphasis on cognitive psychology. Most of my current research focuses on aggression. Most of that research focuses on the potentially harmful effects of exposure to violent video games. Other aggression research under way in my lab includes work on jealousy, attribution and appraisal processes, temperature effects, and effects of violent media of various types. For example, we have shown that hot temperatures increase aggressive behavior under some circumstances, in both laboratory and field settings. This research has also shown that global warming will likely produce substantial increases in violent crime. Other research has shown how life experiences influence the way people think about guns, which in turn influences the effects of weapon primes on aggressive thoughts and behavior. Still other research has shown that men who are prone to sexual aggression against women also tend to behave more aggressively against women in non-sexual ways, and that they specifically target women rather than other men.

In addition, my students and other colleagues and I have been working on a model designed to integrate aggression/violence findings from a variety of research paradigms. The model includes individual difference and situational input variables. It also integrates affective and instrumental aggression. Click on the following links to access major articles on this model: Annual Review, Handbook, Media book, Good & Evil.

In related work (some published, some in progress), we have been trying to more clearly identify components of Aggressive Personality. We have shown, for instance, that aggressive people have two different hostility-related biases: they expect other people to behave more aggressively than do non-aggressive people; they "see" more aggression in on-going dyadic interactions than do non-aggressive people. Current work includes research on the relations among various trait aggressiveness factors, attitudes towards aggression, and the Big Five personality structure.

I occasionally publish on attributional style and depression, loneliness, and shyness. I have two 1999 book chapters in this area, one with one of my clinical colleagues (Debi Bell-Dolan, click here ), the other with a former graduate student of mine (Jody Dill, click here ). Other work on this topic can be found at my recent publications web page, including a cross-cultural study of attributional style and depression that appeared in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin in 1999.

I also continue to work in social cognition, usually in the aggression domain but also in the social judgment/human inference area and in the attribution area. For instance, James Benjamin,  Bruce Bartholow and I published a priming article in which we argue that the weapons effect (a classic in social psychology) is due in part to the capacity of weapons to prime aggressive thoughts. We also published follow-up studies examining the moderating role of individual differences in knowledge structures concerning weapons on the weapons priming effect.

Another research interest of mine concerns the external validity of laboratory paradigms. Brad Bushman, Jim Lindsay, and I have been examining the external validity of laboratory research from an empirical perspective. In brief, we have been comparing effect sizes obtained in lab versus field settings, and have found considerable convergence, both within the aggression domain, and across a wide variety of psychological research domains. Some of this work appeared in Review of General Psychology (1997). The most recent appeared in Current Directions in Psychological Science (1999).

My most recent work has been on psychology and rapid global warming. My colleagues and I have published several book chapters, journal articles, and a monograph describing the effects of global warming on violent behavior at the individual, intergroup, societal, and international levels. We've also addressed the underlying biological, psychological, sociological, political, and economic processes that link rapid global warming to a host of negative outcomes, ranging from basic brain development all the way to terrorism and war.

In all of these research interests, my focus has been on studying basic psychological processes underlying significant human problems. Thus, even though most of my research is not strictly "applied" psychology, all of it has important implications for improving the human condition in contemporary society. Indeed, the potential applicability of research findings is what largely determines my choice of research topics.


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