torsten_norlander_120Torsten Norlander

What is your academic history?
In the 1970s I studied psychology at University of Umeå but decided not to focus on a career as a practicing psychologist. My interest in educational psychology then led me to enroll in the “adults high school teacher” (equivalent to teacher at Preparatory College) program at the University of Linköping. In the early 1990s, I had the opportunity to enter the PhD program in psychology, and I wrote my thesis on alcohol and creativity, conducting experimental studies in which I aimed to emulate the different phases of creativity. I completed my dissertation at the University of Gothenburg. A couple of years later I was appointed Associate Professor in Psychology at Stockholm University and then Professor at Karlstad University. At the present time I am affiliated with the Karolinska Institutet and Evidens University College.

What emerging trends in social psychology are of current interest you?
Lately I have been interested in the psychiatric treatment of Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) which has been found to be an effective caregiving approach for individuals experiencing severe mental illness. Of particular interest to me is the variation of the ACT which originates from New Zealander, Ian Falloon. He emphasizes treatment with not only the clients but also their family and friends. Networking and training of both clients and significant others are key elements in this variant, which has been termed Resource Group Assertive Community Treatment (RACT).

Are you inspired by any particular researchers?
Absolutely! In addition to Ian Falloon, whom I have already mentioned, I want to particularly highlight the importance of J. P. Guilford. He has been and continues to be a great inspiration for me and his most important work The Nature of Human Intelligence belongs in the category of psychology classics. Guilford launched the concept of creativity by bringing together the words “create” and “activity” and delivered a famous speech at the 1950 APA convention in which he expressed ideas about how this field could be examined scientifically. He himself contributed enormously to this research and rightfully received the epithet of “the father of creativity research”.

What has been your most surprising/interesting research finding in your years of research?
It is very difficult to distinguish one single factor but four research findings stand out: (a) that combining positive and negative affectivity into four affective personality types has been shown to have a high explanatory value in a variety of contexts, (b) that eliciting a relaxation response using floating tanks proved to be an effective method for treating stress-related ailments, significantly improving quality of life and relieving pain even in the case of whiplash-associated disorders, (c) that sensorimotor therapy using physical exercises leads to the reoccurrence of distinct psychological regressions which, in turn, promote improved sensorimotor maturity, and (d) that the secret of the good results attributed to RACT seems to be that the client sets their own treatment goals, leading to empowerment and progress in treatment.

What initially attracted you to the field of social psychology?
I am interested in the interactions between the individual and his/her environment.

How did you first hear of SBP Journal and what has been your involvement with the journal in the past?
At one point during the late 1990s, my coauthors and I had accumulated a number of manuscripts focused on social and personality psychology and we needed to find appropriate venues for publication. We noted the efficiency and professional attitudes of staff running SBP Journal and the constructive and helpful attitude from the journal reviewers. These factors led us to continue to send later manuscripts to SBP Journal and I have also, on several occasions, had the honor to participate as a reviewer.

To read more about Dr Norlander’s work, see his website: