Insight: Professor W. Gerrod Parrott
Professor Parrott cites Georgetown's ethos of higher purpose and service as his favorite part of teaching. (Photo: Claire Callagy)
What is your favorite book?
Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. It's a wonderful novel, and it explores emotions with particular clarity and insight. I have assigned it in my seminar, Emotion and the Arts, as an example of a literary approach to the psychology of emotions.
What is your favorite thing about Georgetown University?
Georgetown's ethos of higher purpose and service. It suffuses everything that happens here.
If you could choose to live anyone's life for a day, whose would you choose?
It would be fun to be a composer for film, someone like John Williams. I would enjoy being part of a project that involves hundreds of talented people working together—it's such a contrast to the often lonely scholarship that I do. I actually enjoy watching the credits to movies just to see what everyone does. I also enjoy music very much, and film music often is designed to evoke moods. So living the life of a film composer would combine these several interests.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Japan. I've been trying to go since I was in college, and it never works out. This past summer the International Society for Research on Emotion, with some persuasion from me, voted to hold their 2011 meeting in Kyoto. So in two years I may actually get to go!
If someone wanted to find out more about your research, what would be the one book you would recommend before any others?
In July 2009 Oxford University Press published what is currently the most up-to-date summary of modern emotion research, the Oxford Companion to the Affective Sciences. I wrote two of the entries (on "Envy" and on "Law and Emotion"), but the point of the volume is that over a hundred scholars provided entries to convey the state of the art. That volume will have to suffice until I finish the book I'm working on, Emotion: An Introduction.
Since the self-help craze swept the 1970s, it has become more socially acceptable to speak openly about one’s emotions. Psychology professor and scholar W. Gerrod Parrott has built a career on this recent movement and offers a simple explanation for the explosion of research in his area of interest: “Emotions are everywhere.”
Alanna McPartland came to Georgetown University with an interest in studying French, but soon found herself gravitating toward the field of psychology.