Wendy Wood

Professor Emerita of Psychology


  • Ph.D. Social Psychology, University of Massachusetts, 1980
  • B.S. Psychology, University of Illinois, 1975
  • Tenure Track Appointments

    • Provost Professor of Psychology and Business, University of Southern California, 08/15/2009 –
    • James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University, 2004 – 2009

    Other Employment

    • Helen Putnam Fellow, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, 2007-2008
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    My research focuses on how habits form and change. Habits are part of our nonconscious minds, so that we are not aware of how much influence they have on our behavior. When we repeat actions in the same ways (get food from the fridge or type on our computer), we start to form habits. Ultimately, we only have to walk by the fridge and thoughts of opening it pop into mind. Or we sit down at our computer and the mechanics of typing come to mind–not our conscious minds, because few of us can list the keys on the second row of our keyboards (that’s the nonconscious nature of habit).
    Almost half of our actions are triggered like this by the contexts in which we live (times of day, locations, other people). This is one reason habits are so hard to break. Even when we have made a decision to do something else (eat less, exercise more, spend less money), the practiced habit keeps coming to mind, triggered by familiar contexts.
    Much of my work in the lab is identifying the mental events that keep us acting habitually. Other recent work identifies ways to disrupt or impede habit associations so that we are freer to act in new ways that meet our current goals. I also work with organizations like the World Bank, CDC, and Proctor and Gamble to help people adopt healthy, productive habits in their daily lives.

  • Gifts and Endowments

    • Establishing habits for new products, (Procter & Gamble), $125,000, 2010-2011
  • Book

    • Wood, W. (2019). Good Habits, Bad Habits. New York, NY: FSG.

    Book Chapters

    • Wood, W., Ruenger, D. (2016). Psychology of Habit. Annual Review of Psychology (Vol. 67) pp. 289-314.
    • Wood, W., Eagly, A. H. (2010). Gender. 5 Handbook of Social PsychologyWiley.

    Journal Article

    • Itzchakov, G., Uziel, L., Wood, W. (2018). When attitudes and habits don’t correspond: Self-control depletion increases persuasion but not behavior. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
    • Wood, W. (2017). Habits in Personality and Social Psychology. Personality and Social Psychology Review. Vol. 21, pp. 389-403.
    • Lin, P., Wood, W., Monterosso, J. (2016). Healthy Eating Habits Protect Against Temptations. Appetite. Vol. 103, pp. 432-440.
    • Wood, W., Eagly, A. (2015). Two Traditions of Research on Gender Identity. Sex Roles. Vol. 73, pp. 461-473.
    • Neal, D., Wood, W., Drolet, A. (2013). Habits can aid goal adherence: Profits and pitfalls of strong habits under self-control depletion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. (104), pp. 959-975.
    • Eagly, A. H., Wood, W. (2013). The nature-nurture debates: 25 Years of challenges in understanding the psychology of gender. Perspectives on Psychological Science. Vol. 8, pp. 340-357.
    • Neal, D., Wood, W., Labrecque, J., Lally, P. (2012). How do habits guide behavior? Perceived and actual triggers of habits in daily life. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. (48), pp. 492-498.
    • Wood, W., Eagly, A. (2012). Biosocial construction of sex differences and similarities in behavior. Advances in experimental social psychology. Vol. 46, pp. 55-124.
    • Neal, D., Wood, W., Wu, M., Kurlander, D. (2011). The pull of the past: When do habits persist despite conflict with motives?. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Vol. 37 (1428-1437)
    • Quinn, J. M., Pascoe, A. M., Neal, D. T., Wood, W. (2010). Can’t Help Yourself? Monitor Those Bad Habits. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin/Sage. Vol. 36, pp. 499-511.
    • Hall, D., Matz, D., Wood, W. (2010). Why don’t we practice what we preach? A meta-analytic review of religious racism. Personality and Social Psychology Review/Sage. Vol. 14, pp. 126-139.
    • Wood, W., Neal, D. T. (2009). The Habitual Consumer. Journal of Consumer Psychology/Elsevier. (19), pp. 579-592.
    • Fellow (or Equivalent) of National Society in Discipline, Society of Experimental Social Psychology, 1999
    • Fellow (or Equivalent) of National Society in Discipline, Fellow of American Psychological Association, 1998
    • Fellow (or Equivalent) of National Society in Discipline, Fellow of Association for Psycholoical Science, 1998
    • Distinguished Visiting Chair in Behavioral Science at Sorbonne-INSEAD, 2020/05/01-2020/08/20
    • Distinguished Visiting Chair at INSEAD Paris, Spring 2018
    • Best Paper of the Year in Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2011-2012
    • Fellow (or Equivalent) of National Society in Discipline, Founding Member of Society for Research Synthesis and Methodology, 2006-2011
    • Endowed Chair not USC, James B Duke Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, 2004/08/01-2009/05/30
    • Helen Putnam Fellow 2007-8, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, 2007-2008
    • Finalist, Otto Klineberg Award for best paper in 2003 on intercultural and international relations, Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, 2003-2004
    • Endowed Chair not USC, Ella C McFadden Endowed Chair in Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University, 2000-2003
  • Administrative Appointments

    • Vice Dean for Social Sciences, 08/16/2012 – 10/31/2015
  • Administative Appointment

    • President, Society for Personality and Social Psychology, 2016-2017