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Mary A Gerend Ph.D.

Mary A Gerend Ph.D.

Associate Professor
(850) 645-1541
Main Campus


Dr. Mary Gerend is a social health psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Social Medicine at the Florida State University College of Medicine. She received her BA in Psychology from the University of Minnesota and her PhD in social psychology from Arizona State University. She was on the faculty at the Florida State University College of Medicine from 2003-2014. From 2014-2017 she joined the faculty at Northwestern University with a primary appointment in the Department of Medical Social Sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine and a secondary appointment in the Department of Psychology. She returned to the Florida State University College of Medicine in 2017. Dr. Gerend’s research aims to understand and encourage health protective behavior. Her primary interests center on health messaging and cancer prevention behavior (e.g., screening, diet, tobacco). She is particularly interested in developing behavioral interventions for populations experiencing health disparities such as racial/ethnic minorities and sexual minorities.


B.A., University of Minnesota, 1995
Ph.D., Arizona State University, 2003


Outstanding Junior Faculty Researcher Award, Florida State University College of Medicine, 2007
Outstanding Junior Faculty Educator Award, Florida State University College of Medicine, 2009


American Psychological Association
Society of Behavioral Medicine
Society for Personality and Social Psychology
Social Personality & Health Network
Society of Experimental Social Psychology

Research Focus

Dr. Gerend's expertise is in cancer prevention, sexual health, and health messaging. Her research centers on 1) identifying key psychosocial, cultural, and structural determinants of health behavior and 2) designing and implementing effective interventions for promoting behavior change. For over a decade, her program of research has aimed to understand factors that affect people’s decisions to get vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection that can cause cancer. Much of this work has focused on underserved populations disproportionally affected by HPV-related cancers such as Hispanic Americans and sexual minority men. She has received funding for her research from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Gerend also has extensive experience designing effective health messages for promoting health behavior change. Much of her health messaging work has investigated how subtle differences in the way health information is framed can nudge people toward health behavior. Her work is informed by theories of health behavior and uses a mixed methods approach to create novel interventions for promoting health behavior and reducing health disparities.


Gerend, M. A., Newcomb, M. E., & Mustanski, B. (2017). Prevalence and correlates of smoking and e-cigarette use among young men who have sex with men and transgender women. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 179, 395-399.

Gerend, M. A. & Shepherd, M. A. (2016). When different message frames motivate different routes to the same health outcome. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 50, 319-329.

Gerend M. A., Madkins, K., Phillips, G., II, & Mustanski, B. (2016). Predictors of human papillomavirus vaccination among young men who have sex with men. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 43, 185-191.

Gerend, M. A., Zapata, C., & Reyes, E. (2013). Predictors of human papillomavirus vaccination among daughters of low-income Latina mothers: The role of acculturation. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53, 623-629.

Gerend, M. A., Shepherd, M. A., & Shepherd, J. E. (2013). The multidimensional nature of perceived barriers: Global versus practical barriers to HPV vaccination. Health Psychology, 32, 361-369.

Gerend, M. A., & Shepherd, J. E. (2012). Predicting human papillomavirus vaccine uptake in young adult women: Comparing the Health Belief Model and Theory of Planned Behavior. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 44, 171-180.

Gerend, M. A., & Maner, J. K. (2011). Fear, anger, fruits, and veggies: Interactive effects of emotion and message framing on health behavior. Health Psychology, 30, 420-423.

Download Dr. Gerend's CV