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Gregory Smith

Research Interests:
Alcoholism risk
Eating disorder risk
Clinical assessment methodology

My students and I conduct work in three areas: risk for alcoholism, risk for eating disorders, and clinical assessment methodology (to go to the lab webpage click here). Some of that work involves development of basic theory with respect to both personality and learning:

Risk for Alcoholism
Our current work focuses on developing and testing a model of risk that integrates personality trait theory with psychosocial learning theory. The idea is that certain personality traits bias the learning process, to lead to the formation of overly positive expectancies for the benefits of drinking. In particular, the traits of positive and negative urgency (the tendencies to act rashly when experiencing intensely positive or negative affect, respectively) predict subsequent increases in high risk expectancies, which in turn predict subsequent increases in drinking quantity. Our recent work suggests that pubertal onset is associated with increases in the urgency traits, and thus in risk for problem drinking.

Risk for Eating Disorders
In recent years, we have developed measures to assess expectancies for the benefits of eating and of dieting/thinness. We have shown that they correlate strongly with symptom endorsement and that they predict symptom endorsement longitudinally. We have also shown that positive urgency, negative urgency, and the trait of ineffectiveness predict subsequent increases in dieting/thinness expectancies, which in turn predict the onset of eating disorder symptoms.

Clinical Assessment Methodology
My students and I periodically make contributions to the basic assessment literature, with methodological papers on various topics.

Basic Theory

My students and I have been involved in efforts to clarify the personality basis underlying impulsive behavior, in efforts to integrate dispositional and learning processes, and in efforts to understand culturally specific and universal psychological processes.

Graduate Training

Ph.D. Wayne State Univ., 1986

Selected Publications:


Risk for Eating Disorders

Clinical Assessment Methodology

  • Smith, G. T., McCarthy, D. M., Zapolski, T. C. B. (2009). On the value of homogeneous constructs for construct validation, theory testing, and the description of psychopathology. Psychological Assessment, 21, 272-284.
  • Strauss, M. E., Smith, G. T. (2009). Construct validity: Advances in theory and methodology. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 5, 89-113.

  • Smith, G. T. (2005). On construct validity: Issues of method and measurement. Psychological Assessment, 17, 396-408.

                      Basic Theory    
Smith, G. T., Spillane, N. S., Annus, A. M.  (2006). Implications of an Emerging Integration of Universal and Culturally-Specific Psychologies. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1, 211-233.
Smith, G.T., Williams, S. Fister, Cyders, M., Kelley, S. (2006). Reactive personality-environment transactions and adult developmental trajectories. Developmental Psychology, 42, 877-887.
Spillane, N. S., Smith, G. T. (2007). A Theory of Reservation-Dwelling American Indian Alcohol Use Risk. Psychological Bulletin, 133, 395-418.
Cyders, M. A., Smith, G. T. (2008). Emotion-based dispositions to rash action: Positive and negative urgency. Psychological Bulletin, 134, 807-828.
Smith, G. T. (2009). Why do individuals progress along different life trajectories?Perspectives on Psychological Science, special issue on challenges for scientific psychology to address over the next ten years. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4, 415-421.