Worcester State University
Psychology Department


Seth Surgan, PhD

Associate Professor


Contact Information
Office number: S241-K
Phone: (508) 929-8626
Email: ssurgan@worcester.edu


PhD, Developmental Psychology, Clark University
MA, Developmental Psychology, Clark University
BA, Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Areas of Specialization/Academic Interests
Dr. Surgan’s area of expertise is cultural-developmental psychology with a special interest in how people construct meaning and use semiotic tools to organize psychological and social processes.

Bio and/or Professional Highlights

Dr. Surgan completed his undergraduate education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he graduated magna cum laude, with Highest Honors in Psychology, and received the Dashiell-Thurstone Prize in Psychology for Best Senior Honors Thesis. Dr. Surgan then earned his Master and Doctoral degrees at Clark University, where he was awarded a pre-doctoral fellowship from the National Science Foundation, the Frances L. Hiatt fellowship from Clark University, and a research fellowship from the Deustcher Akademischer Austauschdienst. Prior to his arrival at Worcester State in 2006, Dr. Surgan taught at Assumption College, Eastern Connecticut State University, and Clark University. 

Here at Worcester State, Dr. Surgan works in two main areas: 1) theoretical, methodological, and empirical issues in cultural psychology and 2) the development of tools and methods to teach difficult courses more effectively and humanely. Dr. Surgan also enjoys the chance to help students answer their own interesting questions in novel ways.

Selected scholarly activity (*= student co-researcher)

Recent publications  

Surgan, S., & Abbey, E. (2012). Identity construction among transnational migrants: A dialogical analysis of the interplay between the personal, social and societal levels of analysis. In H. Hermans & T. Giesen (Eds.), Handbook of Dialogical Self Theory. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Abbey, E., & Surgan, S. (eds.). (2011). Emerging methods in psychology.Transaction Publishers. (Electronic edition published 2013)

Surgan, S. (2011). Rethinking word association. In E. Abbey & S. Surgan (Eds.), Emerging Methods in Psychology. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers. 

Surgan, S., & Abbey, E. (2011). Coming closer to the phenomenon: Better understanding the process of human meaning-making. In E. Abbey & S. Surgan (Eds.), Emerging Methods in Psychology. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Recent presentations  

*Goulart, A. & Surgan, S. (2013). Judging oneself while judging others? Paradoxical effects of facial symmetry judgment on self-esteem among college women. Poster to be presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development. Seattle, WA.

*Lapriore, G. & Surgan, S. (2013). The truth about lying. Poster presented at the 19th Annual Massachusetts Statewide Undergraduate Research Conference, Amherst, MA. 

*Pageau, M. & Surgan, S. (2013). Do we have fun when time flies? Poster presented at the 25th Annual Convention of the Association for Psychological Science, Washington, DC.

Surgan, S. & Ketterer, H., & Sullivan, C. J. (2013). Helping students achieve a critical stance through concept mapping. Paper presented at the 121st Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Honolulu, HI.  

Surgan, S. (2012). Trialogicality in the making: The emergence of ‘third’ voices. Invited symposium paper, 7th International Conference on the Dialogical Self, Athens, GA.

Surgan, S. (2011). Getting beyond “Because I have to”: Helping students find meaning in a required statistics course. Paper presented at the 199th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.

Courses Taught
PS 101: General Psychology (in person and online)
PS 205: Research Methods
PS 275: Psychological Statistics
PS 297: Independent Study: Research in Psychology
PS 307: Applied Research Methods
PS 365: Cultural Psychology
PS 405: Independent Study: Topics in Psychology
PS 407: Independent Study: Advanced Research in Psychology
PS 499: Honors Thesis

Curriculum Vitae

Related Links

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Phone: 508-929-8000