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Sarah Cook


Ph.D., University of Virginia, 1998


Violence against women, fear of crime, measurement of aggression, applications of psychology to public policy


Community psychology emphasizes contextual factors involved in human behavior and psychological well-being. These factors range across an individual’s or community’s ecology, and may include proximate variables related to family, school, the workplace and neighborhoods, to distal variables, such as institutions, public policies, and societal attitudes and values. Because community psychologists are interested in such a large range of influences on well-being, they think about opportunities for intervention across levels of analysis or within an ecological context.

I take a community psychology approach to understanding the social problem of violence against women. My primary scholarship goals are to contribute to improving research methods in the field of violence against women (VAW), and to synthesize and apply knowledge about VAW to public policy. My research balances the creation of new knowledge, synthesis, and application of existing knowledge, and dissemination of knowledge to the general public, policy makers, and an interdisciplinary audience in academia. In addition, I strive to integrate my expertise in two surprisingly disparate fields that co-exist but seldom interact: sexual assault (SA) and domestic violence (DV).