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Leveraging Social Psychological Theory to Understand Engagement with Personalized Genomic Information

When Jun 26, 2015
from 01:00 PM to 02:00 PM
Where Large Seminar Room, Cambridge Institute of Public Health, Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge
Attendees University members
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William Klein

Associate Director, Behavioral Research Program, National Cancer Institute,

National Institutes of Health, Maryland, USA


Friday 26 June 2015, 13:00-14:00


Large Seminar Room, Cambridge Institute of Public Health,

Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge, CB2 0SR


This talk will be introduced by Professor Theresa Marteau,

Director, Behaviour and Health Research Unit





Genomic sequencing provides the opportunity for individuals to learn a host of personalized information about their chances of experiencing a wide variety of health outcomes in the future. In addition to being available outside of the clinical setting, much genomic information can be ambiguous (which is less true of high penetrance genetic tests such as BRCA1 /2 for breast cancer). Social psychological theories and constructs may help explain people’s orientation toward such information. In this talk, I will discuss a study in which over 500 people had their genomes sequenced and also completed a questionnaire containing several social psychological constructs. We show that optimism, self-affirmation, ambiguity aversion, implicit theories, affective forecasts, information avoidance tendencies, and perceived norms all play a role in people’s decisions to receive, use, and share personalized genomic information. Implications will be discussed.

This talk is part of the Bradford Hill seminars at the Cambridge Institute of Public Health series.

This talk is part of the Bradford Hill seminar series at the Cambridge Institute of Public Health.


About Bill Klein

William Klein, PhD, was appointed associate director of the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Behavioral Research Program (BRP) in August 2009. Dr. Klein's research interests fall largely under the areas of self-judgment, risk perception, and risk communication. He has been interested in how risk perception biases are related to the processing of health communications, to health decision-making, and to health behavior; how social processes (e.g., social comparison, self-affirmation, peer influence) influence responses to personalized feedback and risk communication; the influence of affective factors such as worry on risk appraisal and health decisions; the impact of ambiguity on responses to feedback and risk messages; the role of optimism in health behavior and psychological functioning; and applications of theory to risk communication and health behavior intervention. Dr. Klein's research has appeared in over 120 publications and has been supported by NCI, the National Science Foundation, and several private foundations.

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