Ruth Kanfer

Ruth Kanfer

General Information


Professor of Psychology

Research Areas

Industrial/Organizational Psychology


Ph.D. (1981) Psychology
Arizona State University

404-894-8905 (fax)
J S Coon building 226
Researcher Webpage
Knowledge & Skill Lab


My research focuses on the influence of motivation, personality, and emotion in workplace behavior, job performance, and worker well-being. Past projects have examined the impact of these person factors and situational constraints as they affect skill training, job search, teamwork, job performance, and the development of workplace competencies. Recent projects have focused on adult development and workforce aging, job search-employment relations, motivation in and of teams, and person determinants of cross-cultural effectiveness. I am co-director of the Kanfer-Ackerman laboratory, where we conduct longitudinal and large-scale laboratory and field collaborative projects on topics such as workforce aging, work adjustment, cognitive fatigue, skill acquisition, adult development and career trajectories, and self-regulated learning.


  • Academy of Management Association
  • American Psychological Association (Fellow)
  • American Psychological Society (Charter Fellow)
  • International Association of Applied Psychology
  • Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (Fellow)
  • Society of Organizational Behavior

Recent Professional Activities

Editorial Boards:

  • Academy of Management Learning and Education
  • Applied Psychology: An International Review
  • Human Performance
  • Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology

Representative, Academy of Management Board of Governors (2002-2006)

Recent Honors and Awards

2007 Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award, Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP)
2006 William R. Owens Scholarly Achievement Award, Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP)


  • Kanfer, R., Chen, G., & Pritchard, R. (Eds.) (2008). Work Motivation: Past, Present, and Future. NY: Psychology Press.
  • Lord, R., Klimoski, R., & Kanfer, R. (Eds) (2002). Emotions in the Workplace: Understanding the Structure and Role of Emotions in Organizational Behavior. San Francisco, CA: Jossey- Bass.
  • Kanfer, R., Ackerman, P. L., & Cudeck, R. (Eds.) (1989). Abilities, motivation, and methodology: The Minnesota Symposium on Learning and Individual Differences. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Selected publications

  • Chen, G., Kanfer, R., DeShon, R. P., Mathieu, J. E., & Kozlowski, S. W. J. (In Press). The motivating potential of teams: Test and extension of Chen & Kanfer's (2006) cross-level model of motivation in teams. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.
  • Kanfer, R., *Wolf, M. strong., *Kantrowitz, T. M., & Ackerman, P. L. (In Press). Ability and trait complex predictors of academic and job performance: A person-situation approach. Applied Psychology: An International Review.
  • Ackerman, P. L., Kanfer, R., *Wolman, S. D., & *Haag, S. (2009). An empirical investigation of cognitive fatigue during testing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 15, 163-181.
  • Kanfer, R. (In Press). Work and older adults. To appear in S. Czaja and J. Sharit (Eds), Aging and Work: Assessment and Implications for the Future. John Hopkins Press
  • *Beier, M.,E. & Kanfer, R. (2009). Motivation in training and development: A phase perspective. In S.W. J. Kozlowski & E. Salas (Eds.), Learning, Training, and Development in Organizations (pp. 65-97). NY: Psychology Press.
  • Kanfer, R. (2009). Work motivation: Identifying new use-inspired research directions. Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice, 2, 77- 93.
  • Wegge, J., Roth, C., Neubach, strong., Schmidt, K. H., & Kanfer, R. (2008). Age and gender diversity as determinants of performance and health in a public organization: The role of task complexity and group size. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93, 1301-1313.
  • Kanfer, R., & Stubblebine, P. (2008). Affect and work motivation. In N. M. Ashkansay & C. L. Cooper (Eds.), Research Companion to Emotions in Organizations (pp.170-182). Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd.

* denotes GT student/graduate

Frequently Taught Courses

  • PSYC 2220: Intro to Industrial/Organizational Psych
  • PSYC 7201: Industrial/Organizational Psychology
  • PSYC 7203: Organizational Psychology
  • Seminar: Work and Aging, Work Motivation and Emotion