Cacioppo obtained a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) from The Ohio State University in 1977. He has served as the President of the Association for Psychological Science, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the Society for Consumer Psychology, the Society for Psychophysiological Research, and the Society for Social Neuroscience. He has also served as the Chair of the Psychology Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Chair of the National Research Council's Board of Behavior, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences (BBCSS); and Chair of the International Board of the Cluster of Excellence "Languages and Emotion," Free University Berlin. He has been elected as a Fellow in various Societies including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the Society of Experimental Psychologists; the Society of Experimental Social Psychology; and The Royal Society of Arts. He has also been elected as a Distinguished Member of various Societies including Psi Chi; the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the American Psychological Association; the Association for Psychological Science; the Society for Social Neuroscience; the American Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research; the World Innovation Foundation; the International Organization of Psychophysiology; the Society for Personality and Social Psychology; and the Society of Behavioral Medicine.
In the late 1970s, Cacioppo collaborated with Richard E. Petty to develop the elaboration likelihood model (ELM) of attitudes and persuasion and began investigations of individual differences in cognitive motivation. They also examined the social and biological influences on mind and behavior. A decade later, Cacioppo began working with Gary Berntson to pioneer a new field they called Social neuroscience. This led to an expansion of Cacioppo’s research examining how personal relationships get under the skin to affect Social cognition and emotions, personality processes, biology, and health. By employing brain scans, monitoring of autonomic and neuroendocrine processes, and assays of immune function, he found the overpowering influence of social context — a factor so strong that it can alter genetic expression in white blood cells. The work further showed how the subjective sense of social isolation (loneliness) uniquely disrupts our perceptions, behavior, and physiology, becoming a trap that not only reinforces isolation, but can also lead to early death. In 2004, he and William Patrick began a collaboration that led to their book, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, which makes the case that social cooperation is, in fact, humanity’s defining characteristic. Cacioppo, together with Gary Berntson, Jean Decety, Stephanie Cacioppo, Steve Cole, John Capitanio, Dorret Boomsma, and Abraham Palmer continue to investigate the biological mechanisms involved in social perception, interpersonal processes, cognition, emotion, and behavior.
He has received the Society for Experimental Social Psychology’s Distinguished Scientist Award in recognition of “unusually important contributions to experimental social psychology” (2015); Troland Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences; the Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychophysiology; an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Bard College; the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association; the Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Psychophysiology from the Society for Psychophysiological Research; the Donald Campbell Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology; the Patricia Barchas Award from the American Psychosomatic Society; the Award for Distinguished Service on Behalf of Personality and Social Psychology from the Society of Personality and Social Psychology; the Theoretical Innovation Prize from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology; the Presidential Citation from the American Psychological Association; the Order of the Sons of Italy Award; the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Ohio State University Department of Psychology; and the Scientific Impact Award from the Society for Experimental Social Psychology. He has been the keynote speaker at various meetings including the Festival della Scienza in Genoa, Italy; the Annual Meeting of the Association for Psychological Science; and the Society for Social Neuroscience
Cacioppo has served on various Boards including the President’s Committee for the National Medal of Science; the International Scientific Advisory Committee for the Institute of Cognitive Neurology (INECO); the Advisory Committee for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate of the National Science Foundation; the Scientific Advisory Committee of the College of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Beijing Normal University; the National Institutes of Health Center for Scientific Review (CSR) Advisory Council; the Expert Panel on Program to Reduce Social Isolation, Mary Foundation in Copenhagen, Denmark; the Board of Directors ofd the Society for Social Neuroscience; the Board of Directors of the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences; the External Advisory Committee of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois; the Health and Retirement Study Data Monitoring Board of the National Institute on Aging; the Department of Health and Human Services National Advisory Council on Aging; and also the Board of Directors of the scientific Societies for which he served as President. Quantitative analyses of the field have shown Cacioppo to be one of “ISI Highly Cited Researchers” in Psychiatry/Psychology (since 2003) and one of the top 50 most eminent psychologists of the Modern Era (post WWII; Diener, E., Oishi, S., & Park, J. Y. (2014). An incomplete list of eminent psychologists of the modern era, Archives of Psychological Science, 2, 20-32). As of March 2015, according to Google Scholar Analytics, his work had been cited 86,563 times and his h-index was 124.
About social neuroscience
In the early 1990s, Cacioppo began working with Gary Berntson of The Ohio State University to pioneer a new field they called “Social neuroscience.”
Social neuroscience is an interdisciplinary attempt to trace how social forces “get under the skin” to affect physiology, as well as how physiology influences social interactions. His collaborative research on loneliness raised questions about one of the pillars of modern medicine and psychology—the focus on the individual as the broadest appropriate unit of inquiry. The new discipline that examines the associations between social and neural levels of organizations and the biological mechanisms underlying these associations. Neuroscientists have tended to focus on single organisms, organs, cells, or intracellular processes. Social species create emergent organizations beyond the individual, however, and these emergent structures evolved hand in hand with neural and hormonal mechanisms to support them because the consequent social behaviors helped animals survive, reproduce, and care for offspring sufficiently long that they too reproduced. Social neuroscience, therefore, is concerned with how biological systems implement social processes and behavior, capitalizing on concepts and methods from the neuroscience to inform and refine theories of social psychological processes, and using social and behavioral concepts and data to inform and refine theories of neural organization and function
By employing brain scans, monitoring of autonomic and neuroendocrine processes, and assays of immune function, Cacioppo and colleagues found that social context alters genetic expression, for instance in white blood cells . This research also showed that “loneliness” – the subjective social isolation – disrupts perception and alters behavior and physiology, becoming a trap that reinforces isolation. . These biological pathways were argued to be unique and to lead to early death.
Cacioppo and Jean Decety played an instrumental role in the creation of the Society for Social Neuroscience in 2010.Psychophysiology (Editor, Associate Editor, Methodology Editor)
Perspectives on Psychological Science (Advisory Editor, Associate Editor, Editorial Board)
Psychological Review (Associate Editor, Editorial Board)
Social Neuroscience (Associate Editor, Editorial Board)
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the Unites State of America (Guest Editor)
American Psychologist (Guest Editor)
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Personality Processes and Individual Differences (Guest Editor, Editorial Board)
Journal of Consumer Research (Advisory Editor, Editorial Board)
Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences (Editorial Board)
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Attitudes and Social Cognition (Editorial Board)
Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience (Editorial Board)
Basic and Applied Social Psychology (Editorial Board)
BioMed Central (Editorial Board)
Journal of Applied Social Psychology (Editorial Board)
Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics (Editorial Board)
The Open Psychology Journal (Editorial Board)
Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience Reviews (Editorial Board)
Personality and Social Psychology Review (Editorial Board)
Review of Personality and Social Psychology (Editorial Board)
International Journal of Psychophysiology (Editorial Board)
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (Editorial Board)