I’m Lowell Gaertner, Professor of Psychology, and This is How I Work


I am Lowell Gaertner, Professor of Psychology. I am a social psychologist and much of my research involves issues of self and group processes. For example, my colleagues and I examine questions such as:  is self-enhancement a basic human motive or a product of culture? why do we like the groups to which we belong? More recently we’ve been looking at the possibility of women’s attraction to outgroup men as a vestige of a pre-human genetic diversity motive. Anyway, I like to play with ideas and examine issues from different perspectives. My favorite part of the research process is finding a question that I can’t stop pondering and trying to translate the fuzzy issues into a variety of research designs. I also mentor graduate students and this is a process that I really enjoy. When it works right it is a lot of fun and we both learn from each other. I usually teach three courses a year. I typically teach two graduate statistics courses and an undergraduate social psychology course. Many of the undergraduates who enjoy my social psychology course subsequently spend a semester or more helping in the laboratory with the nuts and bolts of conducting studies. They too are a valuable part of the laboratory who enable much of our work to get done.

Location: University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
Current Gig: Professor
One word/phrase that describes your work style: persistent
Current computer/mobile device: iMac

What apps/tools/software can you not live without? SAS, Word and Dropbox. 

What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack? Still looking for it.

What’s your workspace set up like? See this picture.


How do you keep track of things you need to do (any to-do-list apps)? My calendar

What do you listen to while you work? I usually listen to music when I analyze data and grade, and rotate among The Doors, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane’s Addiction, Grateful Dead, The Who, Steely Dan, or whatever happens to be on. I usually keep it quiet when I write.

What are you currently reading? When I’m not reading journal articles, I like to read fictional thrillers. My favorite authors are Michael Connelly and Lee Child – If you haven’t read The Poet by Connelly, you should…

How do you recharge? Exercise – I think I’m addicted to it. I run, bike, and lift weights. I also really enjoy cooking and eating, so my exercise addiction might be functional.

How do you balance your work life and your home/family life? I have two boys, Tejes (15 years old) and Kieren (12 years old). They come first and work is second. When Tejes was born I made a rule for myself that home is for home and school is for school.

What’s your sleep routine like? I usually fall asleep between 10-11PM. During the school year, I usually wake up around 4:30 to run before taking my kids to school. In the summer, I wake-up around 6AM.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? My dad always told me to “Work hard, play hard.


Lowell Gaertner



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