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January 18, 2022

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Nicholas DiFonzo, Associate Professor of Psychology

Dr. Nick DiFonzo

  • Ph.D. (1994) Psychology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA., Concentration: Social & Organizational Psychology
  • M.A. (1992) Psychology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
  • M.A. (1990) Counseling, Rider College, Lawrenceville, NJ
  • A.B. (1981) Engineering, Lafayette College, Easton, PA

What brought you to Roberts?

For some years, I have been rethinking the worldview foundations of psychological research and theory. Although I was successful and content in my previous university position, I felt called to come to Roberts in order to teach and to write about Psychology from a Christian worldview. Being here affords me much more opportunity to pursue this aim, and I am grateful for this. This is my first semester. So far, so good!

When did you start becoming interested in Social Psychology?

Since my early 20s, I became interested in counseling and psychology and I decided to pursue it in earnest in my late 20s. That was several years ago (just kidding!)—actually, that was over 30 years ago.

Rumor Psychology

Watercooler Effect

What is an interesting fact about you?

I wrote two books on the psychology of rumor... at least, that is what I have heard. :)

Read excerpts of Dr. DiFonzo's books here: Rumor Psychology and The Watercooler Effect

What has it been like to teach during a pandemic?

Busy. I rapidly return emails, write examples of how to answer essay questions, and provide lots of feedback on each assignment. I had to become extremely organized--which has been very helpful. Students have adapted by engaging in more conversation on their own about the things they learn.

What is an academic highlight from your time at Roberts?

I have been delighted to interact with students about ideas involving the nature of persons, psychological methods, happiness, the narratives of Scripture, and forgiveness.

How have you grown in your faith at Roberts?

Coming to Roberts at this stage of my career has been an experience of dependence upon God, and of delighting in Christ. Dependence in that it is a shift in teaching and thinking. Delighting in that I see that every conceivable dimension here is infused with an awareness of God’s glory.

What is an interest you have outside of teaching?

Singing, playing guitar, reading fiction, woodworking, racquetball, and hiking.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Thinking through ideas about psychology in the context of relationships with colleagues and students.

What is your favorite quote or verse and why?

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart, and lean not on thine own understanding. Acknowledge him in all thy ways, and he will make straight thy paths". (Prov. 3:5-6) This is a favorite verse because it helps me recover my perspective, it helps me understand my situation and where I am going.

Academic Work:

  • With other authors, I wrote a chapter on measurement at the intersection of positive psychology and the psychology of religion/spirituality. Hill, P. C., DiFonzo, N., Jones, C. E., & Bell, J. S. (2022), Measurement at the intersection of positive psychology and the psychology of religion/spirituality. In Davis, E. B., Worthington, Jr., E. L., & Schnitker, S. A. (Eds.) Handbook of positive psychology, religion, and spirituality. [Ch. 7]. Springer Publishing.
  • I published an article reformulating the psychology of rumor from a Christian worldview. DiFonzo, N. (2019). A Christian psychology of rumor. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 38(1), 3-21.
  • I presented a paper on worldview influence in psychological measurement. DiFonzo, N., & Jones, C. E. (2020, Mar. 13). Worldview Influence in Psychological Measurement: What Is It, How To Recognize It, And How To Account For It. Paper presented at the 2020 Annual Meeting of the Christian Association for Psychological Studies, Atlanta, GA.
  • I am co-editing a special issue of the Journal of Psychology and Christianity on the topic, “Emic Christian Measurement.”

Student Insights

Mingjie Gao'21 (Psychology & Music)

Mingjie Gao

"It is always a pleasure to have a conversation with Dr. DiFonzo. He is so passionate about psychology and about being a Christian. He has respect for each culture and has an eagerness to learn about them. Dr. DiFonzo truly cares for and respects students from different cultures and religions, I consider him a great teacher and friend."

Jay Douglas Kahlenbeck’21(Psychology)

Jay Douglas Kahlenbeck

"The opportunity to study underneath Dr. DiFonzo has proved to be seminal. I have found that with each conversation, Dr. DiFonzo’s tendency to spark insight and curiosity leaves me eager for our next meeting. His creative, intelligent and compassionate understanding of our world further accentuates his exceptional ability to mentor and educate his students."

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