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Dr.  Donelson  R. Forsyth
Dr. Donelson R. Forsyth
Professor, Colonel Leo K. & Gaylee Thorsness Endowed Chair in Ethical Leadership

A social and personality psychologist, Dr. Donelson "Don" Forsyth studies groups, leadership, ethical thought, and moral judgment. In addition to his general interest in group processes and psychological aspects of moral judgments, he explores empirically the psychological and interpersonal consequences of success and failure at the group and individual level, individual differences in ethical ideology, and perceptions of leaders.

He has authored more than 150 books, chapters, and articles on ethics, groups, and related topics, and his work has appeared in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, American Psychologist, and Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. His work has been supported by grants from the NIH, NSF, JPL/NASA, and SCHEV. In 1996 he founded the journal Group Dynamics and served in 2008 as the president of Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy.

At the Jepson School, Forsyth teaches courses such as Group Dynamics and Leadership and the Social Sciences.

SPSP Award for Distinguished Service to the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, 2014
Distinguished Educator Award, University of Richmond, 2010
Outstanding Faculty Award, State of Virginia, 2002
Award of Excellence, Virginia Commonwealth University, 2002
Distinguished Scholar Award, Virginia Social Science Association, 2001
Outstanding Group Psychologist, American Psychological Association, 1996
Selected Publications

Forsyth, D. R. (2019). Making Moral Judgments: Psychological Perspectives on Morality, Ethics, and Decision-Making. Online: Routledge.  

Forsyth, D. R. (2019). Group dynamics (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage. Earlier editions: 1983, 1990, 1999, 2006, 2010, and 2014.

Forsyth, D. R. (2016). College teaching: Practical insights from the science of teaching and learning. Washington: American Psychological Association.

Kong, D.T. & Forsyth, D.R. (2016). Leading through conflict: Into the fray. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.


Forsyth, D. R. (2020). Group-level resistance to health mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic: A groupthink approach. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice 24, no. 3 (September 2020): 139-52.  

Marmarosh, Cheri L., Donelson R. Forsyth, Bernhard Strauss, and Gary M. Burlingame. “The Psychology of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Group-Level Perspective.” Group Dynamics : Theory, Research, and Practice 24, no. 3 (September 2020): 122-38.

Cairo, Athena H., Jeffrey D. Green, Donelson R. Forsyth, Anna Maria C. Behler, and Tarah L. Raldiris. “Gray (Literature) Matters: Evidence of Selective Hypothesis Reporting in Social Psychological Research.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 46, no. 9 (2020): 1344–62.

Forsyth, D. R. (2016). The seditious class. Higher Education Advocate, 34(5), 12-15.

Yermack, J., & Forsyth, D. R. (2016). Students' implicit theories of university professors. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology, 2(3), 169-178.

Forsyth, D. R. (2016). Humans are not The Borg: Personal and social selves function as components in a unified self-system. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 39.24-25; doi:10.1017/S0140525X15001375.

Forsyth, D. R. (2016). Group psychology in the new millennium: Fifteen years on. Group, 40(1), 17-22.

O’Boyle, E. H., Forsyth, D. R., Banks, G. C., Story, P. A., & White, C. D. (2015). A meta-analytic test of redundancy and relative importance of the dark triad and five-factor model of personality. Journal of Personality, 83, 644-664.

Forsyth, D. R., van Vugt, M., Schlein, G., & Story, P. A. (2015). Identity and environmental sustainability: Place-based social identity increases environmental engagement. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 15, 233–252.

Van Tongeren, D. R., Burnette, J. L., O’ Boyle, E., Worthington, E. L., & Forsyth, D. (2014). A meta-analysis of intergroup forgiveness. Journal of Positive Psychology, 9, 81-95.


Kong, D. T., & Forsyth, D. R. (2016). Overview. In D. T. Kong & D. R. Forsyth (Eds.), Leading through conflict: Into the fray (pp. xi-xix). New York: Palgrave McMillan.

Forsyth, D. R. (2015). How do leaders lead? Through social influence. In A. Goethals, S. Allison, R. Kramer, & D. Messick (Eds.), Contemporary conceptions of leadership (pp. 185-200). New York: Palgrave.

Forsyth, D. R. (2015). Clinical psychology of group psychotherapy. In J. D. Wright (Ed.), International encyclopedia of social and behavioral sciences (2nd. ed). Oxford: Elsevier.

Forsyth, D. R. (2014). The psychology of groups. In R. Biswas-Diener & E. Diener (Eds), Noba textbook series: Psychology. Champaign, IL: DEF Publishers.

Forsyth, D. R. (2014). Groups in exercise and sports contexts: A forward. In M. R. Beauchamp & M. A. Eys (Eds.), Group dynamics in exercise and sport psychology (2nd. ed., pp. xxv-xxvi). New York: Routledge/Psychology Press.

Forsyth, D. R., & Diederich, L. T. (2014). Group dynamics and development. In J. DeLucia-Waack, C. Kalodner, & M. Riva (Eds.), The handbook of group counseling and psychotherapy (2nd ed., pp. 34-45). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

In the News

For many fans the absence of sports feels like a loss. Psychologists say that's normal. (The Washington Post)
Thu., May. 21, 2020

What research on isolated groups tells us about dealing with social isolation in the face of COVID-19 (Society for Personality and Social Psychology)
Fri., Apr. 3, 2020

On coronavirus lockdown, gamers seek solace and community in video games (USA Today)
Wed., Mar. 4, 2020

Confinement and family stress: Not normal, but manageable (VPM)
Thu., Apr. 2, 2020

Don Forsyth's column: A social psychologist's tips for surviving social isolation (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Mon., Mar. 23, 2020

Best and worst cities for keeping your New Year's resolutions: Ask the experts (The WalletHub)
Sat., Dec. 19, 2020

Peer pressure: Why good people do bad things in groups (The Quicky)
Mon., Oct. 28, 2019

The wrath of Beyoncé's Beyhive: how fans have lost the plot (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Sat., Apr. 30, 2016

Grading Greek life on college campuses (New Hampshire Public Radio)
Wed., Feb. 12, 2014

Why the madness on Black Friday? (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Fri., Nov. 29, 2013

Forsyth comments: Yellen likely to join other women in key economic roles
Sat., Oct. 19, 2013

When passions for teams get out of hand
Fri., Sep. 27, 2013

Popular in Latino community, money pools a community approach to lending (Cronkite News)
Thu., Sep. 19, 2013

Research by Donelson R. Forsyth mentioned in The Wall Street Journal
Tue., Apr. 23, 2013

On game day, sometimes winning isn't everything
Fri., Feb. 1, 2013

Fan psychology: Why we 'grieve' when our sports teams suffer gut-wrenching losses (ThePostGame)
Fri., Oct. 19, 2012

Perception of sports fans in KC takes hit (Associated Press, ESPN)
Thu., Oct. 11, 2012

Leadership studies professor comments on mob mentality
Wed., May. 23, 2012

Do fired Navy COs suffer from 'Bathsheba Syndrome'?
Thu., Mar. 15, 2012

Professor comments on March Madness in the workplace (USA Today)
Wed., Mar. 14, 2012

Social psychologist Don Forsyth comments on Penn State student response (ThePostGame)
Wed., Mar. 14, 2012

D.Phil., University of Florida 1978
M.A., University of Florida 1975
B.S., Florida State University 1974
Psychology and Sociology
Contact Information
244 Jepson Hall
(804) 289-8461
(804) 287-6062 (Fax)
Areas of Expertise
Group Dynamics
Social Behavior
Psychology of Morality