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Donation from Local Psychologist to Help Establish ‘Conscientious Psychology’ Chair at MSU

Research of conscientious psychology will be first of its kind in the world
Hill Hall at Missouri State University
Hill Hall will soon be home to new psychology research/credit: Missouri State University

Thanks to a generous donation from a local psychologist, Missouri State University topped $167 million dollars in donations during its seven-year-long ‘Our Promise’ campaign. As KSMU’s Samuel Crowe reports, the donation will help put MSU at the forefront of new psychology research.

Conscientiousness is ameasurement used by psychologists to identify personality, says Dr. Norm Shealy, retired neurosurgeon, physician, and doctor of psychology. Founder of the American Holistic Medicine Association in 1978, Shealy recently donated $1 million dollars to MSU to establish the Mary-Charlotte Bayles Shealy Chair of conscientious psychology, the first of its kind in the world. Shealy says this is a new field of psychology, and one he’s been working toward for several years.

“There’s been a great deal of work on the importance of conscientiousness as the number one requirement for health and longevity, and there’s a huge amount of research proving that. But psychologists have not, to this point, worked on tools to help train or motivate people who are not conscientious to become so,” Shealy said.

Research conducted by the new chair will focus on developing these motivation tools, because, as Shealy says…

“It is the less conscientious people who get drug addicted, who become alcoholics, who are highly depressed, and even become criminals, as well as the people with the most chronic illnesses. So we know that. We know that the vast majority of people with chronic illness are not particularly conscientious, and that’s part of the reason why they become ill,” Shealy said.

Besides conducting research, Dr. Tim Daugherty, head of the MSU psychology department, says this new chair will be involved in teaching and service. He says both students and the community will be impacted with this production of new knowledge.

“It’s certainly consistent with Missouri State University’s public affairs mission. We are quite well equipped to take this step, and to study how conscientiousness can influence health well-being, the human condition in general. I know Dr. Shealy has a particular interest in how we might promote conscientiousness –are there any interventions that can help people be their better selves? Quite consistent with what psychologists want to do, and I think we’re in a good position to do that,” Daugherty said.

Daugherty says the search for this new chair should begin within the year, and says his fingers are crossed he or she will start in the fall of 2014.

For KSMU News, I’m Samuel Crowe.