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Michael L. Hecht

Michael L. Hecht

Distinguished Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences



  1. B.A., Queens College, 1971
  2. M.A., Queens College, 1973
  3. Ph.D., University of Illinois, 1976


Research Activities and Interests


I am interested in both the theory and the practice of effective communication. My work draws from the health, intercultural, and interpersonal areas of communication research and has produced new theoretical approaches such as the Communication Theory of Identity and the Principal of Cultural Grounding.  I have been involved in many community-based research programs and collaborations, conducting evaluation research for federally funded drug abuse and treatment programs, crime prevention organizations, and mental health agencies.  My work can be found in literature concerning culture, prejudice and communication, adolescent drug use, and nonverbal communication.

My most recent project is the accumulation of years of research in both cultural and health communication.  Supported by a series of National Institute on Drug Abuse (National Institutes of Health) grants, our team is working to describe and explain the social processes of adolescent drug offers.  From this research we developed an effective multicultural drug prevention program for seventh graders, called keepin' it REAL ( keepin’ it REAL is listed as “evidence-based” on the National Registry of Effective Programs for its ability to influence adolescent drug use.  It is used by middle schools throughout the world. Since its recent adoption by D.A.R.E. America, keepin’ it REAL has become the most widely used curriculum of its kind.

In addition to these projects and publications, my work also is presented in my teaching, particularly CAS 470, Nonverbal Communication that focuses on examining ways nonverbal messages affect us on a daily basis. The course is web-based ( and highly interactive.

Finally, I regularly lecture topics such as adolescent drug use and prevention, identity and culture, management, and nonverbal communication, and have conducted nationwide marketing, needs assessment, and employee attitude research for companies such as Xerox, ARCO, GTE, Jackson National Life Insurance, and U-Haul.  I have served on school district and community advisory boards for technology, media, and drug and alcohol education and as a member of a citizens’ advisory board for a hospital.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions regarding my research experience and/or areas of interest.


CAS 203: Interpersonal Communication (sample syllabus)
CAS 403: Interpersonal Oral Communication Theory
CAS 470: Nonverbal Communication (Spring 2006 syllabus)

Curriculum Developed

keepin’ it REAL ( A multicultural, middle school substance abuse prevention curriculum distributed by D.A.R.E. America, Discovery Health, and ETR Publishing.

Recent Grants


  • Principal Investigator, “Adaptation Processes in School-Based Substance Abuse Prevention”, National Institute on Drug Abuse/National Institute of Health ($3,272,367, R01DA021670, 2/1/08 – 1/31/13)
  • Participating Faculty, “Prevention and Methodology Training Grant”,  National Institute on Drug Abuse (Grant No. T32DA017629)
  • Consultant, “The African American Collaborative Obesity Research Network”, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Vikki Lassiter, PI) (1/07 - )
  • Consultant, “Development of an Instrument to Measure Health Literacy”, National Cancer Institute (Lauren McCormack, PI) (R01CA115861, 8/07-7/10).
  • Principal Investigator, “Remaining Single as a Makeinu [Underdog]: Exploration of Japanese Never-Married Identities in Japan“, Marchionne Foundation ($21,150, 2006-07).
  • Principal Investigator, “Drug Resistance Strategies Minority Project,” National Institute on Drug Abuse/National Institute of Health ($4,149,418, R01 DA005629, 8/10/03-3/30/08).

Research Areas


  • Identity
  • Prejudice
  • Ethnicity
  • Communication Satisfaction
  • Adolescent Drug Resistance
  • Romantic Love
  • Adolescent Drug Resistance
  • Culture and Communication
  • Health Communication
  • Identity



  • D.A.R.E. CHAMPION, 2009
  • National Communication Association’s African American Communication & Culture Division's 2003 Distinguished Scholarship Award.
  • Gerald R. Philips Award for Distinguished Applied Communication Scholarship, National Communication Association, 2001.
  • International Television Video Association Award (ITVA), 1999, Arizona competition for Student PSA Production.
  • Distinguished Scholarship Award, Applied Communication Division, National Communication Association, 1997
  • Distinguished Scholarship Award, International and Intercultural Division, Speech Communication Association, 1993
  • Silver Medalist, Questar Awards, May, 1991, for drug prevention video, "Killing Time"
  • Finalist, International Film and Video Festival of New York, January, 1991, for drug prevention video, "Killing Time"
  • Article of the Year Award, SIETAR, 1991
  • Distinguished Scholarship Award, International and Intercultural Division, Speech Communication Association, 1989
  • Access Producers Achievement Award, Dickenson Cablesystems, for "Kids Broadcasting System News," 1982

Research Interests:

Graduate Faculty:
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Department of Communication Arts & Sciences faculty, graduate students, family members, and their dogs posing behind the left field foul pole during "Bark in the Park" night at a State College Spikes minor league baseball game, August 11, 2011.

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