Melanie Hetzel-Riggin, Ph.D.

Melanie Hetzel-Riggin, Ph.D.
Director, School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Professor of Psychology, Psychology program and Clinical Psychology M.A. program
Faculty Affiliate, Susan Hirt Hagen CORE
Faculty Affiliate, The Public Policy Initiative at Penn State Behrend
170E Kochel

Mailing Address:
ERIE, PA 16563

Dr. Melanie D. Hetzel-Riggin received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology in August of 2005 from Northern Illinois University. She is a professor of psychology at Penn State Behrend and is a licensed clinical psychologist. Her dissertation investigated the role of dissociation on physiological reactivity to reminders of rape experiences. Her current research focuses on the effectiveness of bystander intervention to reduce sexual violence and peer mistreatment, as well as the relationship among interpersonal trauma, coping style, and mental health outcomes. Her teaching interests include abnormal psychology, clinical psychology, trauma and resiliency, career counseling, crisis intervention, ethics, and research methods.


Her teaching interests include introductory psychology, personality and adjustment, abnormal psychology, clinical psychology, career counseling, trauma and crisis, and ethics and multiculturalism.


Dr. Hetzel-Riggin currently has three lines of research that have a number of ongoing projects within each. The first is focused on interpersonal violence prevention, testing an experimental design to assess bystander intervention attitudes and behaviors to improve bystander intervention programming. The second line of research she is involved in is related to coping and resiliency, and lastly, she’s involved in addressing bullying, peer mistreatment, and positive youth development. 

Sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, interpersonal violence, trauma, PTSD, prevention, bystander intervention

Mediating Effects of Hopefulness in the Relationship Between Different Forms of Peer Victimization and Adolescents’ Emotional Dysfunction, International Journal of Bullying Prevention - July, 2023
Collaborators: Charisse Nixon; Wilson Brown; Rebecca Frausel; James Hodge; Ava Michael

Stakeholder Group Differences on Knowledge, Attitudes, and Perspectives of Coordinated Community Response Teams for Domestic Violence, Violence Against Women

Examining Substance Use and Predictors of Use in Undergraduate Students, Education - December, 2022
Collaborator: Tiffany Bainter

Digital Mental Health Interventions: Impact and Considerations - 2021
Collaborators: Christopher Shelton; Antigoni Kotsiou

Rumination Mediates the Relationship between Negative Affect and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms in Interpersonal Trauma Survivors, Journal of Interpersonal Violence - 2021
Collaborators: Wilson Brown; Melissa Mitchell; Patrick Palmieri; Steven Bruce

Campus Sexual Violence and Title IX: What is the Role of Restorative Justice Now?, Feminist Criminology
Collaborator: Shauntey James

Teaching Abnormal Psychology and Psychopathology Effectively Online - September, 2021

Gender, Myths, and Assumptions: Correlates of Risk Perception in Sexual Assault Scenarios, Journal of Interpersonal Violence - July, 2021
Collaborators: Shauntey James; Ryan Roby; Theresa Buczek

Caught by Connections: The Mediating Roles of Social and Community Support after Interpersonal Violence, Community Mental Health Journal - June, 2021
Collaborators: Kameron Landers; Sinara Hinton; Hannah Heukeshoven

Mothers Who Neglect Their Children - April, 2021
Collaborator: Sandra Azar

The Mediating Roles of Hostility and Dissociation in the Relationship between Sexual Assault and Suicidal Thinking in College Students, Journal of Interpersonal Violence - 2020
Collaborators: Kristy Keefe; Nami Sunami

System Response to Intimate Partner Violence: Coordinated Community Response - September, 2020

Title IX Protections for College Legislative Interns: What Should You Know and What More Can Your Program Do, Journal of Political Science Education - 2019
Collaborator: B Welch

Work Engagement and Resiliency Impact the Relationship Between Nursing Stress and Burnout, Psychological Reports - September, 2019
Collaborators: Brett Swords; Hau Tuang; Joshua Deck; Nicholas Spurgeon

Knowledge Assessment: Game for Assessment of Symptoms of Child Physical Abuse - August, 2019
Collaborators: Richard Zhao; Christopher Shelton; Jordan LaRiccia; Gregory Louchart; Adam Meanor; Heather Risser

'You Blame Me,Therefore I Blame Me:' The importance of first disclosure responses on mental health outcomes after trauma, Journal of Interpersonal Violence - 2018
Collaborators: J Bonnan-White; B Welch; C Tollini

An Exploratory Evaluation of Bystander Intervention Training for Resident Assistants, Violence and Gender - 2018

Predicting Posttraumatic Growth in Survivors of Interpersonal Trauma: Gender Role Adherence is More Important than Gender, Psychology of Men and Masculinity - 2018
Collaborator: M. Rose Barlow

What Did You Expect?: Substance Use Expectancies Mediate the Relationships Between Dark Triad Traits, Substance Use, and Substance Preference, Psychological Reports - 2018
Collaborator: Adam Gott

Gender-based violence

Posttraumatic stress disorder and gender violence

Teaching feminism

Do informed consent procedures matter when assessing trauma experience, Journal of Trauma and Loss - 2017

Does coping style add to the effects of sex and trauma type on PTSD and mental health outcomes? - 2016

The Influence of Internal and External Markers of Resiliency on Mental Health Outcomes in Interpersonal Violence Survivors

Evidence based treatments for trauma-related psychological disorders, Journal of Trauma and Dissociation - 2016

Interrelationships among three avoidant coping styles and their relationship to trauma, peritraumatic distress, and PTSD, Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease - 2016
Collaborator: C Meads

The willingness of college students to intervene in sexual assault situations: Attitude and behavior differences by gender, race, age, and community of origin., Violence and Gender - 2016
Collaborators: B Diamond-Welch; J Hemingway

Voices from the past: Mental and physical outcomes described by American Civil War amputees, Journal of Trauma and Dissociation - 2016
Collaborators: J. Bonnan-White; J. Yep

The role of impulsivity in the relationship between dissociation and posstraumatic reactions after trauma. - 2015
Collaborators: T Morris; J Stoker; R Greatbatch; K Marsh

Trauma Counseling: Theories and Intervention, Journal of Trauma and Dissociation - 2015

Does altruism protect nurses from burnout? A study of work engagement outcomes., The Pennsylvania Nurse - 2015
Collaborators: H Tuang; N Spurgeon; J Deck

Exploring racially diverse college students' perspective on child discipline: A qualitative study, Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma. - 2015
Collaborators: A. Hawkins; M Rabenhorst

A feminist, ecological, safety-centered approach to teaching about gendered violence, Psychology of Women Quarterly - 2014

Hierarchical convergence of PTSD symptom clusters: A comparison of the Numbing, Dysphoria, and Dysphoric Arousal models of PTSD, Traumatology - 2014
Collaborator: C Harbke

Vicarious traumatization in EM personnel: Definition, risk factors, assessment, and prevention, IAEM Bulletin - 2014
Collaborator: J Bonnan-White

The impact of peritraumatic dissociation on mental health outcomes of women with childhood and adult physical abuse histories, Physical and Emotional Abuse: Triggers, Short and Long-Term Consequences and Prevention Methods - 2013
Collaborator: Christina Meads

Trauma type and gender effects on PTSD, general distress, and peritraumatic dissociation, Journal of Loss and Trauma: International Perspectives on Stress & Coping - 2013
Collaborator: Ryan Roby

Factors that influence coping self-efficacy after trauma, Handbook of the Psychology of Coping: New Research - 2012
Collaborator: Christina Meads

Emerging directions in traumatic stress disorders and treatment, Journal of Traumatic Stress Disorders and Treatment - 2012

Childhood violence and adult partner maltreatment: The roles of coping styles and psychological distress, Journal of Family Violence - 2011
Collaborator: Chrstina Meads

Predicting problematic internet use in men and women: The contributions of psychological distress, coping style, and body esteem, Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking - 2011
Collaborator: J. Pritchard

Peritraumatic dissociation and PTSD effects on physiological response patterns in sexual assault victims, Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy - 2010

To dissociate or suppress? Predicting automatic vs. conscious cognitive avoidance, Journal of Trauma and Dissociation - 2010
Collaborator: Emily Wilber

A test of structural invariance of posttraumatic stress symptoms in female survivors of sexual and/or physical abuse or assault, Traumatology - 2009

A meta-analytic investigation of therapy modality outcomes for sexually abused children and adolescents: An exploratory study, Child Abuse & Neglect - 2007
Collaborators: A. Brausch; B. Montgomery

The relationship between peritraumatic dissociation, the pattern of PTSD symptom development, and physiological reactivity in women sexually assaulted as adults, Dissertation Abstracts International - 2006

PTSD as a mediator of sexual revictimization effects: The role of re-experiencing, avoidance, and arousal, Journal of Traumatic Stress - 2006
Collaborators: Heather Risser; Cindy Thomsen; Thomas McCanne

The roles of peritraumatic dissociation, child physical abuse, and child sexual abuse in the development of posttraumatic stress disorder and adult victimization, Child Abuse & Neglect - 2005
Collaborator: T. McCanne

Peritraumatic dissociation and posttraumatic stress disorder in victims of child physical abuse and child sexual abuse - 2002

Ph D, Clinical Psychology, Northern Illinois University

MA, Clinical Psychology, Northern Illinois University

BA, Psychology, Quincy University