Lost Password

Yale menu

Daily News

Mark Zanna

Mark ZannaDied: February 22, 2020

Mark Zanna was born March 4, 1944 in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. He attended St. Louis Park High School where he excelled academically. Also a talented athlete, he excelled in multiple sports, especially basketball in which he served as starting point guard for the team that won the 1962 state championship. At Yale he belonged to Morse College and was an intensive major in culture and behavior, graduating with exceptional departmental honors and election to Phi Beta Kappa. He continued to thrive athletically as a member of the Yale Freshman Basketball Team as well as playing intramural soccer, softball, and touch football. He remained at Yale for graduate studies, receiving his PhD in psychology in 1970.

Mark had an eminent career as an academic social psychologist. His first faculty appointment was at Princeton University as an Assistant Professor. In 1975 he joined the faculty at University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada where he worked for the next 39 years, rising to the rank of Professor in 1979 and University Professor in 2004. He served four terms as Chair of the Division of Social Psychology and two terms as Chair of the Department of Psychology. He was Visiting Professor at Stanford, Princeton and McGill Universities as well as the Universities of Minnesota, California and Exeter, UK. He served on the editorial boards of eleven journals and was the recipient of numerous honors and awards including in 2011 the prestigious Killam Prize Laureate for the Social Sciences from the Canadian Council for the Arts.

Mark’s colleagues in the Department of Psychology wrote A Tribute to Distinguished Professor Emeritus Mark Zanna in the University of Waterloo’s Psychology newsletter of February 27, 2020. The tribute conveys the high regard in which he is held by not only his department colleagues, but by experts in his field throughout the world. He was praised for his “particular genius for crafting experiments that cleverly disentangled confounds and ruled out alternative explanations.” His research made “essential contributions to nearly every topic in the field including studies of attitudes, attitude change processes, ambivalence, cognitive dissonance, prejudice and stereotyping, self-fulfilling prophesies and the psychology of alcohol and smoking.” Mark also possessed a remarkable ability to inspire and mentor others. Many of his students have gone on to be leaders in the field.

Family and community were central to Mark’s life. In our Twenty-fifth Reunion Classbook he wrote “Interestingly (to me, at least) what I seem to care about most is my family.” In 1968 while in graduate school he and his wife Betsy were married. Over the next 51 years of life together they raised two sons (Adam born 1974 and Jamie 1977) and were blessed with four grandchildren. Mark was an ardent supporter of University of Waterloo athletics and continued to engage in athletic competition throughout his life. According to the Waterloo Region Record he played softball and hockey through his early 70s.

On February 22, 2020 Mark passed away peacefully surrounded by his family.

Ed Folland