Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts
Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Eric Silver

Eric Silver
Professor of Sociology and Criminology

Curriculum Vitae

Eric Silver
(814) 865-8714
902 Oswald Tower University Park , PA 16802
Mailroom: 430 Burrowes Building


Ph.D. Sociology, State University of New York at Albany, 1999

Professional Bio


I teach a large intro level course on morality called Knowing Right from Wrong, which I developed in 2019. The course is now the largest morality course in the United States with over 700 students enrolled each semester. By combining the philosopher’s interest in ethics with the psychologist’s interest in the mind and the sociologist’s interest in groups, Knowing Right from Wrong provides a comprehensive introduction to the origins and influence of morality in daily life.


I study morality and crime and justice related attitudes and behaviors. Currently, I’m studying the influence of systemic racism beliefs and racial resentment by and toward Blacks, Whites, Latinos, and Asians on racial policy attitudes and civic engagement. I’m also studying the influence of moral intuitions on public attitudes toward (1) stigmatization, (2) systemic racism and racial resentment, (3) affirmative action and other antiracism policies, (4) policing; (5) social movements such as Black Lives Matter, (6) sexual assault and harassment, (7) patriotism; and (8) people's willingness to report wrongdoing. My prior research focused on the relationship between mental disorder and violence/victimization, communities and crime, and risk assessment. I’ve authored over 60 peer-reviewed articles and received awards for both my research and teaching.


  • 2013 Malvin E. and Lea P. Bank Outstanding Teaching Award, College of the Liberal Arts, Penn State University.
  • 2005 Outstanding Tenure Line Teaching Award, College of Liberal Arts, Penn State University.
  • 2002 American Society of Criminology Ruth Shonle Cavan Award for outstanding early career contributions to the discipline of criminology.
  • 2002 Saleem Shah award for early career excellence, sponsored by the American Psychology-Law Society (Division 41 of the American Psychological Association) and the American Society of Forensic Psychology.
  • 2002 American Psychiatric Association Manfred Guttmacher Award for the Oxford University Press book, Rethinking Risk Assessment: The MacArthur Study of Mental Disorder and Violence (Monahan, Steadman, Silver et al., 2001).


  • Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, College of the Liberal Arts (2013-2017)
  • Associate Department Head (2009-2013)
  • Director of Graduate Studies (2003-2009)

Research Interests by Concentration


morality and rule breaking behavior, the relationship between mental disorder and violence/victimization, deviance