(on leave spring 2018)

Department Chair

Educational Background

  • University of Washington, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, 1992 - 1993
    Post-doctoral fellowship
    Supervisor: David R. Patterson, Ph.D.
  • University of Washington, 1987 - 1992
    Ph.D., Psychology: Spring 1992
    Major area: Personality/Social Psychology
    Advisor: Ronald E. Smith, Ph.D.
    M.S., Psychology, 1988
    Major area: Personality/Social Psychology
  • Willamette University, 1981-1985
    B.S., cum laude, 1985
    Major area: Psychology
    Minor area: Economics

Research Interests

Over the past several years I’ve been continued to pursue several lines of research. Exploring basic and applied issues in coping has occupied most of my research time. Most recently, colleagues and I were able to demonstrate that coping, while clearly transactional as the process unfolds, includes a stable component. With students, I have also been working on the development of surveys to assess support sensitivity and courage. The study of support sensitivity evolved from our work on gender differences in coping processes and in the perceptions that men and women have about these coping differences. We are attempting to identify and assess those characteristics of people that make them better (or worse) support providers. The work on courage, similarly, has its roots in my coping research, as I have conceptualized courage as the ability (or willingness) to use problem-focused coping strategies in situations in which there is a potential for an important loss and the outcome is far from certain. Finally, while working with athletes and athletic teams at Bucknell, I’ve become increasingly interested in the factors differentiate arousal, worry, and anxiety and how these distinct experiences might relate to physical performance.

Courses Taught

  • Introductory Psychology (PSYC 100)
  • Psychological Statistics (PSYC 215)
  • Personality (PSYC 228)
  • Applied Methods in Personality (PSYC 298)
  • Advanced Personality (PSYC 325)
  • Sport Psychology (PSYC 234)
  • Positive Psychology (PSYC 135)
  • Independent Study (3-5 students each semester)

Selected Publications


Ptacek, J. T., Pierce, G. R., Thompson, E. L. (2006) Finding evidence of stability in coping processes. Journal of Research in Personality, 40, 11-37-1151.

Ptacek, J. T., Pierce, G. R., & Ptacek, J. J. (2007). Coping and Psychological Adjustment to cancer: An Examination of the Personal and Social Context. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, 25, 37-58

Ptacek, J. T., Smith, R. E., & Raffety, B.D., & Lindgren, K.P. (2008). Coherence and Transituational Generality in Coping: The Unity and the Diversity. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping: An International Journal, 21, 155-172.


Ptacek, J. T., & Eberhardt, T. L. (1996). Breaking bad news: A review of the literature. Journal of the American Medical Association, 276(6), 496-502.

Ptacek, J. T., & Ptacek, J. J. (2001). Patients’ perceptions of receiving bad news about cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 19(21), 4160-4164.

Ptacek, J. T., Leonard, K., & Eberhardt, T. L. (2004) "I’ve got bad news . . . " Veterinarians' recollections of communicating bad news to clients. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 34, 366-390.

Ptacek, J.T., & McIntosh, E. G. (2009). Physician Challenges in Communicating Bad News. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 34, 380-387.


Patterson, D. R., & Ptacek, J. T. (1997). Baseline pain as a moderator of hypnotic analgesia for burn injury treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 65, 60-76.

Ptacek, J. T., Patterson, D. R., & Doctor, J. (2000). Describing and predicting the nature of procedural pain following thermal injury. Journal of Burn Care and Rehabilitation, 21, 318-326.

Difede, J., Ptacek, J. T., Roberts, J., Barocas, D., Rives, W., Apfeldorf, W., Yurt, R. (2002). Acute stress disorder after burn injury: A predictor of posttraumatic stress disorder? Psychosomatic Medicine, 64, 826-834.

Patterson, D. R., Tininenko, J, & Ptacek, J. T., (2006). Pain during burn hospitalization predicts long-term outcome. Journal of Burn Care and Rehabilitation, 27, 719-726


Places I've Been

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