John Ptacek

Professor of Psychology

About John Ptacek

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

“Doc P” earned his PhD from the University of Washington Spring 1992 in Personality Psychology, with a research focus on stress and coping and on the psychological mechanisms associated with athletic injury. Following a post-doc in rehabilitation medicine that focused on pain control in burn victims and on the process of adjustment following severe burns, Doc P began teaching at Bucknell Fall 1993. He has taught a variety of courses, including Intro, Personality, Statistics, Statistical Reasoning, Research Methods, Sports Psychology, Health Psychology, and Psychopaths and Serial Killers.

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

Further Information

Contact Details