Richard Ochberg, GPS Adjunct
School of Arts & Sciences

Phone: 978-232-2387
Office Location: Samuel C. Wax Academic Center
Office Number: 001




Harvard College BA (Social Relations)

University of Michigan PhD (Psychology)

Yale University Post-doctoral Fellow




Research Methods

Life Span Development

Adulthood and Aging


Social Problems


Introduction to Psychology


Current projects


I am working on a documentary film about artists in Cambodia, many of whom survived the genocide of the Khmer Rouge period, who are now trying to rejuvenate forms of art—music, dance, painting, sculpture, shadow puppets—that were very nearly lost forever.  I plan to extend this project to include survivors of the genocide who are now living in Lowell.  This will become part of a larger web-site, available to teachers and community leaders here and in Cambodia.

I am also working on a book about the interpretation of life narratives




Rosenwald & Ochberg (1992).  Storied lives: The cultural politics of interpretation. New Haven: Yale Press.

McAdams & Ochberg (1989).  Psychobiography & life narratives.  Chapel Hill, NC: Duke Press.

Ochberg  (1987).  Middle-aged sons and the meaning of work. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Press.


Articles and chapters


Ochberg (2003) Teaching interpretation.  In R. Josselson, A. Lieblich & D. McAdams (Eds.) Up close and personal: The teaching and learning of narrative research. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Ochberg & Comeau (2001).  Moving up and the problem of explaining an “unreasonable” ambition.  In McAdams, Josselson & Lieblich, Turns in the road: Narrative studies of lives in transition

Ochberg (2000). On being part of the audience.  In S. Moch & M. Gates (Eds.) The researcher experience in qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Ochberg (1996) Interpreting life stories. In A. Lieblich & R. Josselson (Eds.), The narrative study of lives,

Ochberg (1994) Life stories and storied lives. In A. Lieblich & R. Josselson (Eds.), The narrative study of lives

Ochberg & Chapman (1994). Social class and the dimensions of family support for education. In R. Feldman (Ed.) The psychology of adversity. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press.

Ochberg (1992) Patterns of unhappiness in men’s careers. In  R. Young & A. Collins (Eds.)  Interpreting career: Hermeneutical studies of lives in context.  Westport, CT: Praeger.

Ochberg (1992) Social insight and psychological liberation. In G. Rosenwald & R. Ochberg (Eds.), Storied lives: The cultural politics of interpretation. New Haven: Yale Press.

Rosenwald & Ochberg (1992).   Life stories, cultural politics, and self-understanding.  In Rosenwald & Ochberg: Storied lives: The cultural politics of interpretation.  New Haven: Yale Press.

Ochberg & Barton (1989). Women physicians and their mentors. J. of the American Medical Women’s Association

Ochberg (1988) Life stories and the psychosocial construction of careers.  Journal of Personality, 56(1).

Ochberg (1987) The male career code and the ideology of role. In H. Brod, The making of masculinities.

Ochberg (1987) Ambition and impersonality in men’s careers.  Men’s Studies Review.

Ochberg (1986) College leaves of absence: The developmental logic of psychosocial moratoria. J of Youth and Adol.

Ochberg, Tischler & Schulberg (1986).  Mentoring relationships in the careers of mental health administrators.  Hospital & Community Psychiatry

Biographical Profile

I started out as a psychotherapist with a special interest in college counseling; I’ve counseled students at the University of Michigan and at Yale.   Most of my career, however, has been spent teaching and doing research.    Both as a therapist and a researcher I have been interested in how people make sense of their own lives, especially when those lives depart from the course one might have expected them to follow. For example, I have studied college students who clarified their sense of direction by temporarily dropping out of school, and working class students who felt that their academic ambitions were estranging them from their less-educated families.   For the last few years I have been working on two major projects: a book on the interpretation of life stories, and a documentary film about Cambodian artists who are trying to revive the traditional arts after the devastation of the Khmer Rouge genocide. 


Research Interests:

-          How (some) students become engaged by college—and how they develop over the years

-          How different types of students, and different types of faculty, make sense of college

-          How students’ experience is shaped by what goes on outside the traditional classroom

-          The special problems faced by students from less traditional backgrounds

-          Methodologically: I teach students to use a mixture of interviews and questionnaires; in my own research, I lean toward the psychosocial interpretation of life stories



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