Jo-Ann C. Tsang, Ph.D.

Jo-Ann C. Tsang, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychology
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Associate Professor of Psychology


Ph.D., Psychology, University of Kansas, 2000

M.A., Psychology, University of Kansas, 1996

B.A., Psychology, The University of California, 1994


Dr. Tsang joined the Baylor faculty as an Assistant Professor in 2002. Prior to coming to Baylor, she served as a postdoctoral research fellow at Southern Methodist University. She earned her Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Kansas.

Academic Interests and Research

Dr. Tsang has three general programs of research: Gratitude, forgiveness and the psychology of religion. One program of research has involved gratitude and the use of behavioral measures. Prior research in gratitude has relied predominantly on scenario inductions of gratitude and self-report dependent measures. This standard methodology poses several limitations, including the possibility that scenarios do not induce actual grateful emotion, as well as the confound of social desirability in the use of self-report. In this program of research, our lab has worked to refine an experimental induction of gratitude that distinguishes between grateful emotion and general positive mood. This methodology also includes a behavioral dependent measure of gratitude that is both costly and covert, which better insures that participants are providing sincere answers, rather than responding as they think the experimenter might want them to respond. This methodology has provided us with a foundation for testing many different variables known to affect gratitude but which previously have been investigated only through self-reports. These include the relationship between gratitude and favor value, the effect of religious priming on gratitude, and whether grateful behaviors are fueled by egoistic or altruistic motivations. In addition to this methodology, our lab has employed retrospective and scenario methodology to investigate the differences between gratitude and indebtedness.

Dr. Tsang recently has pursued a similar line of research examining forgiveness and behavioral measures. This program of research was originally funded by a small grant from the Fetzer Institute. Using an experimental transgression and a behavioral measure of forgiveness, our lab has examined the effects of restitution, apology, and religious primes on both self-reported and behavioral forgiveness. Fetzer also funded our lab to investigate self-forgiveness in populations of clients recovering from substance abuse. This self-forgiveness project was conducted in collaboration with Dr. Sara Dolan, a clinical psychologist in our department. We are also in the beginning stages of creating an implicit measure of forgiveness to complement the self-report and behavioral measures of forgiveness currently being used in our laboratory. In addition, we use retrospective and scenario methodology to study a number of issues in both interpersonal and self-forgiveness.

The third program of research involves the psychology of religion. In collaboration with Dr. Wade Rowatt, a social psychologist in our department, the relationship between religious personality variables and implicit prejudice are being researched. Dr. Tsang also often includes religious variables in her studies of gratitude and forgiveness.

Selected Publications

Mak, H., & Tsang, J. (2008). Separating the "sinner" from the "sin": Religious orientation and prejudiced behavior toward sexual orientation and promiscuous sex. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 47, 379-392.

Tsang, J. (2007). Gratitude for small and large favors: A behavioral test. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2, 157-167.

Tsang, J., & Rowatt, W. C. (2007). The relationship between religious orientation, right-wing authoritarianism, and implicit attitudes toward lesbians and gay men. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 17, 99-120.

Tsang, J. (2006). The effects of helper intention on gratitude and indebtedness. Motivation and Emotion, 30, 198-204.

Tsang, J. (2006). Gratitude and prosocial behavior: An experimental test of gratitude. Cognition and Emotion, 20, 138-148.

Tsang, J., McCullough, M. E., & Fincham, F. D. (2006). The longitudinal association between forgiveness and relationship closeness and commitment. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 25, 448-472.

Tsang, J., & Stanford, M. (2006). Forgiveness for intimate partner violence: The influence of victim and offender variables. Personality and Individual Differences, 42, 653-664.

Tsang, J., McCullough, M. E., & Hoyt, W. T. (2005). Psychometric and rationalization accounts for the religion-forgiveness discrepancy. Journal of Social Issues, 61, 785-805.

McCullough, M. E., Tsang, J., & Emmons, R. A. (2004). Gratitude in "intermediate affective terrain": Grateful moods and their links to personality and daily life events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86, 295-309.

McCullough, M.E., Fincham, F.D., & Tsang, J. (2003). Forgiveness, forbearance, and time: The temporal unfolding of transgression-related interpersonal motivations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 540-557.

McCullough, M. E., Tsang, J., & Brion, S. (2003). Personality traits in adolescence as predictors of religiousness in early adulthood: Findings from the Terman longitudinal study. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 980-991.

Batson, C. D., Ahmad, N., & Tsang, J. (2002). Four motives for community involvement. Journal of Social Issues, 58, 429-445.

McCullough, M. E., Emmons, R. A., & Tsang, J. (2002). The grateful disposition: A conceptual and empirical topography. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 112-127.

Tsang, J. (2002). Moral rationalization and the integration of situational factors and psychological processes in immoral behavior. Review of General Psychology, 6, 25-50.

Ph.D. Graduate

Robert Carlisle, Ph.D.
Thomas Carpenter, Ph.D.
Stephen Martin, Ph.D.

Current Ph.D. Students

Monica Weedman

Courses taught at Baylor

  • PSY 1305 - Introductory Psychology
  • PSY 3310 - Social Psychology
  • PSY 4339 - Psychology of Religion
  • PSY 5339 - Social-Organizational Psychology
  • PSY 5437 - Group Dynamics