Social Psychology Network

Maintained by Scott Plous, Wesleyan University

Ellen Cohn

Ellen Cohn

  • Media Contact
  • SPN Mentor

Professor Ellen Cohn’s research is in the field of social psychology of law. The focus of the research in our laboratory has been on explaining the factors that affect why people follow or break rules. Our work focuses on testing and expanding two legal socialization models. The traditional legal socialization model focuses on explaining how legal and moral reasoning is related to rule-violating behavior based on the work of Tapp (Levine, 1979; Tapp & Kohlberg, 1979; Tapp & Levine, 1979). The integrated model of legal socialization argues that legal attitudes mediate that relation. Legal attitudes include normative status or how much participants approve of rule-violating behaviors (Cohn & White, 1990), enforcement status or how much participants approve of punishing rule-violating behaviors (Cohn & White, 1990), and Attitudes toward the Criminal Legal System scale which measures how positive respondents are toward the actors in the legal system (Martin & Cohn, 2004; Cohn & Modecki, 2007). The alternative model of legal socialization focuses on situational factors and argues that legitimacy and legal cynicism mediate between procedural justice and rule-violating behavior.

Testing Legal Socialization Models

1. Combining traditional and alternative models: NHYS
2. Expanding legal socialization to nonlegal contexts
3. Creating a moral socialization model
4. Testing the alternative model in jury decision-making

Bullying and Relational Aggression

1. Privacy, provocation, and internet versus face-to-face
2. Victim and perpetrator reputation
3. Parental and teacher legitimacy on bullying behavior

Race and Racism in Legal and Nonlegal Contexts

1. Racial salience in jury decision-making
2. Broadening race and racism to legal and non-legal contexts

Unwanted Sexual and Physical Experiences Among College Students

1. Panel study of changes in unwanted sexual experiences in 1988, 2000, 2006 and 2012
2. Incidence of stalking, interpersonal violence and unwanted sexual experiences

Primary Interests:

  • Aggression, Conflict, Peace
  • Applied Social Psychology
  • Attitudes and Beliefs
  • Causal Attribution
  • Culture and Ethnicity
  • Ethics and Morality
  • Gender Psychology
  • Interpersonal Processes
  • Law and Public Policy
  • Political Psychology
  • Prejudice and Stereotyping

Journal Articles:

  • Banyard, V. L., Plante, E. G., Cohn, E. S., Ward, S., Moorhead, C., & Walsh, W. (2005). Revisiting unwanted sexual experiences on campus: A twelve-year follow-up.Violence against Women, 11, 426-446.
  • Banyard, V. L., Ward, Cohn, E. S., Plante, E. G., Moorhead, C., & Walsh, W. (2007). Unwanted sexual experiences on campus: A comparison of women’s and men’s experiences. Violence and Victims, 22, 57-70.
  • Banyard, V., Moynihan, M. M., Walsh, W. A., Cohn, E. S., & Ward, S. (2010). Friends of survivors: The community impact of unwanted sexual experiences. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 25, 242-256..
  • Bucolo, D. O., & Cohn, E. S. (2010). Playing the race card: Making race salient in defense opening and closing statements. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 15, 293-303.
  • Cohn, E. S., Bucolo, D., Pride, M., & Sommers, S. R. (2009). Racial salience and racial bias in the courts: Do racial attitudes make a difference? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 39, 1953-1973.
  • Cohn, E.S., Bucolo, D., Rebellon, C.J., & Van Gundy, K. (2010). An integrated model of legal and moral reasoning and rule-violating behavior: The role of legal attitudes. Law and Human Behavior, 34, 295-309.
  • Cohn, E. S., Dupuis, E. C., & Brown, T. (2009). In the eye of the beholder: Sex, resistance, reputation and perpetrator differences in date rape. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 39, 1513-1535.
  • Cohn, E. S., & Modecki, K. L. (2007). Gender differences in predicting delinquent behavior: Do individual differences matter? Social Behavior and Personality, 35, 359-374.
  • Dupuis, E.C., & Cohn, E.S. (2009). A new scale to measure war attitudes: Construction and predictors. Journal of Psychological Arts & Sciences, 1, 6-15.
  • Rebellon, C. J., Manasse, M. E., Van Gundy, K., & Cohn, E.S. (in press). Perceived injustice and delinquency: A test of general strain theory. Journal of Criminal Justice.
  • Trinkner, R., Cohn, E. S., Rebellon, C. J., & Van Gundy, K. (in press). Never trust anyone over 30: Parental legitimacy as a mediator between parental style and changes in rule-violating behavior over time. Journal of Adolescence.
  • VanGundy, K., Stracuzzi, N., Rebellon, C., Tucker, C., & Cohn, E. (2011). Perceived community cohesion and the stress process in youth. Rural Sociology, 76, 293-318.
  • Walsh, W. A., Banyard, V. L., Moynihan, M. M., Ward, S., & Cohn, E. S. (2010). Service use on a college campus after an unwanted sexual experience. Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, 11, 134-151,

Other Publications:

  • Cohn, E. S., Bucolo, D., & Sommers, S. R. (2011). Race and racism. In Conviction of the Innocent: Lessons from Psychological Research (B. Cutler, Editor). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Cohn, E. S., & Modecki, K. L. (2008). Legal socialization. In B. L. Cutler (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Law and Psychology Volume 2 (pp. 450-453). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Spinney, C. A., Goforth, E. C., & Cohn, E. S. (2007). Factors influencing the reporting of dating violence prevalence. In K. A. Kendall-Tackett and S. M. Giacomoni (Eds.), Intimate Partner Violence (pp. 1501-1521). Kingston, NJ: Civic Research Institute.

Courses Taught:

  • Advanced Social Psychology
  • Experimental Social Psychology
  • Honors Seminar in Psychology
  • Justice, Injustice, and Stigma
  • Psychology and Law
  • Psychology of Crime and Justice
  • Psychology of Delinquency
  • Research Methods in Social Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Social Psychology of Attitudes
  • Statistics and Methodology

Ellen Cohn
Department of Psychology
Conant Hall, 10 Library Way
University of New Hampshire
Durham, New Hampshire 03824
United States

  • Phone: (603) 862-3197
  • Fax: (603) 862-4986

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