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Psychology professor heads to Israel and Palestine

by Julia Renner, Marine Biology 2018

The opportunity to take a trip to Israel and Palestine this summer “fell into my lap from the sky,” says Judith Hall, University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University. Dr. Hall will be traveling with several other professors from Northeastern, Boston University, and University of Massachusetts Amherst this summer to locations within Israel and the occupied territories. The trip, provided by the Combined Jewish Philanthropies, is designed to give both Jewish and non-Jewish professors the chance to develop an understanding of the complexities of Israel; Dr. Hall describes it as “a chance to hear many voices,” adding, “I was amazed at the opportunity to see such an important place and learn about it firsthand.”

Judith Hall

Judith Hall, University Distinguished Professor of Psychology

For Hall, who is Jewish, the trip has both personal and academic significance. “From a standpoint of being an academic,” she explains, the trip “will equip me to think in a more informed way about the challenges, injustices real and perceived, history, politics, sociology, and psychology of people who are actually there.”

Hall looks forward to meeting with both Israeli and Palestinian individuals and groups. “On campuses today, opinions are extremely polarized,” she points out. “Many of those opinions—in either direction—are not based on solid information or a balanced understanding.”

The opportunity holds special significance for her as a social psychologist as well. Hall sees parallels to the current research in her lab on conflict behaviors, and the prediction and resolution of conflicts. “My field is concerned with how people perceive and act towards each other, how they attribute each other’s actions and justify their own, and how their emotions can guide their behavior,” she explains.

Her work would seem to make her well-equipped to explore the deep complexities of the region and the broad range of perspectives there, and to come back as the type of leader and informed scholar the trip seeks to produce.

Hall has been with Northeastern’s Department of Psychology since 1986, and holds a PhD in Social Psychology from Harvard University. She has contributed to more than 200 publications, including authored, coauthored, and edited books. The most recent, The Social Psychology of Perceiving Others Accurately (edited by Hall, M. Schmid Mast, and T.V. West) was published the week of April 11 by Cambridge University Press.

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