Penguin Speakers Bureau

Sam Sommers, Ph.D.

Award-winning Teacher, Researcher, and Author of Situations Matter


Sam Sommers, award-winning teacher and researcher, is the author of Situations Matter: Understanding How Context Transforms Your World, forthcoming from Riverhead Books in December 2011. He earned his PhD from the University of Michigan, and since 2003 has been a professor in the Department of Psychology at Tufts University outside Boston. His research specialties include how people think, communicate, and behave in diverse settings, as well as psychological perspectives on the United States legal system.

Sommers has spoken at dozens of colleges and universities, including Harvard, Yale, MIT, Dartmouth, Cornell, and Emory. He has also given interactive presentations in a variety of corporate settings on topics such as organizational culture/climate and the psychology of unethical behavior. His research has been featured by media outlets including Good Morning America, National Public Radio, Harper’s Magazine, MSNBC, the London Times, the Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post. He has also testified as an expert witness in criminal trials in five states.

At Tufts, Sommers is known for his engaging and humorous lecture style and has won multiple teaching awards, including being selected by the student senate as the Professor of the Year in 2009. His wife would insist on mentioning that he was also recently voted by the student newspaper the “hottest” male professor on campus; being well-versed in the power of situations, he, however, would begrudgingly note that the honor had less to do with him than with the apparently sorry state of the competition.

In his free time, Sommers enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters, blogging on the Psychology Today website, batting lead off for the vaunted Tufts Psychology summer softball team, and exerting more effort than he probably should editing Seinfeld and Daily Show clips for use in the classroom.

Speaking Topics

  • Situations Matter: Understanding How Context Transforms Your World

    How to make smarter observations and more effective predictions about the world, others, and ourselves

  • The science of daily behavior
  • Why we really do what we do: mistaken assumptions about human behavior
  • How we think and act in groups
  • Human nature according to popular culture
  • Diversity: the science of how and why it matters
  • Applying psychology to the legal system
  • The psychology of unethical behavior
  • Corporate climate and culture
See More Topics

More About This Speaker

Featured Book

Situations Matter

"A true eye-opener. You'll never look at the ordinary world the same way again."

– Wray Herbert, author of On Second Thought

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