"There's a big difference between what you think is cool and what you think others think is cool..."
Assistant Professor of Psychology JP Gerber, a graduate of the University of Sydney and Macquarie University, came to Gordon College in 2010. He is fascinated by the ways that repeated exposure to a social situation influences people's immediate and long-term perception of the world. He also conducts meta-analyses of social psychological phenomena, such as rejection and social comparison. At Gordon he teaches social psychology, personality, research methods and statistics, and introductory psychology.
Measuring the Existence of Cool Using a Social Relations Model
Dr. Gerber's most recent study sought to compare an individual's perception of what is considered cool with a group's perception of the same concept. The experiment asked groups of students to rate one another based on "personal cool"—how cool they as individuals considered each group member—and "group cool," defined as how cool the group assessed each member to be. Dr. Gerber's findings showed that cool has a tendency to be defined in groups.
"There's a big difference between what you think is cool and what you think others think is cool," he says. "Although individuals may hold unique views of what cool is, for coolness to exist across a network, people must be aware of what those around them mean by cool."
Read about Dr. Gerber's study in a feature article in the Boston Globe.
(Photo: JP and Alison Gerber)
Having done doctoral-level experimental work on interpersonal rejection, this area remains one of Dr. Gerber's prime topics of research interest:
On Being Rejected (PDF)
Dr. Gerber's academic work is often a confluence of scholarly and personal interests. For example, as an avid music fan, Gerber has incorporated this passion into much of his work as a professor of psychology. A recent study of his discusses Sufjan Steven's album Illinoise and how to listen to it in an appropriate, minimalistic way. JP and his wife, Alison, presented "How to listen to Illinoise" at the Calvin College Festival of Faith and Music in April 2013.
Gerber also serves as the faculty advisor for the College's radio station, Scot Radio. In 2012 he helped the station secure a $5,000 grant for radio equipment
In addition, he hosts The Hidden Tradition on Scot Radio, a show that "explores pop music made by Christians in the 20th century, and looks at how that can inspire us as Christians and also inform as about the nature of redemptive creativity."
Dr. Gerber works closely with the philosophical psychology lab at Gordon, mentoring students of PSY257 Research Methods II, PSY371 Social Groups, and PSY471 Research with the process of collecting and processing research. Thus far, his work with these students has led to one paper, two conference presentations, and two poster presentations.