Passion for research drives HHS Distinguished Alumni Award recipient to excel in social psychology and management

Written By: Rebecca Hoffa,

Ramadhar Singh stands next to Ahmedabad University Amrut Mody School of Management sign.

Ramadhar SinghPhoto Provided

Studying as an undergraduate and master’s student at Bihar University in India, College of Health and Human Sciences (HHS) alumnus Ramadhar Singh read and admired the work of esteemed Purdue University Department of Psychological Sciences professors in his textbooks. When he received a Fulbright scholarship in 1970, he took the opportunity to pursue his doctoral degree in the United States, where he requested to transfer from another university to Purdue to work under the direction of social psychologist Donn Byrne.

Now himself a distinguished university professor at Ahmedabad University, a private research-intensive institution in the state of Gujarat in India, Singh is being recognized with the Purdue HHS 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award for his own outstanding accomplishments in social psychology and management.

“Being recognized with this award makes me feel humbled, honored, delighted and fully satisfied with my life journey,” Singh said. “In my 1973 commencement, then-President Arthur G. Hansen granted me the PhD degree, charging me to ‘prove worthy of it by words and deeds.’ I am so delighted that Professor Marion K. Underwood, dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences, found me to have fulfilled what was expected of my doctoral degree.”

As a professor, Singh passionately applies his mentoring skills learned from his Purdue professors to develop his students, enabling them to thrive in Asian academia. In 2009, Singh was voted as an Inspiring Mentor from the National University of Singapore.

Ramadhar Singh poses for a photo in 1972

Then a doctoral candidate in social psychology, Singh poses for a photo on Purdue’s campus in 1972.Photo provided

In addition to the 2022 HHS award, Singh was awarded the first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Research from the Indian Institute of Management Indore in 2021, and in 2022, the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur established the annual Prabha and Ramadhar Singh Distinguished Lecture in Psychology.

Having held a variety of scholarly roles previously at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, the National University of Singapore, the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, Patna University, and now at Ahmedabad University, Singh has made a wide range of advancements in social psychology and management research. Singh’s research contributions at the individual, group, organization and societal levels range from investigating decision-making, impression formation and interpersonal attraction to studying cross-cultural differences in predicting performance and punishing others.

A 2017 Omega article investigating research productivity in management schools in India reports Singh to rank highest among the top 10 organizational behavior researchers and No. 4 among the top 5% of 40 management researchers.

“Every issue I picked up was mainly motivated by my love of doing research and gaining insights from it,” Singh said. “Sustained publications of my findings in international journals and their citations across disciplines bolstered my passion for generating the needed knowledge. It is indeed gratifying to see that my research improved the understanding of people and processes and that professional associations and academic institutions have been recognizing my dedication and persistence as a scientist since 1990.”

During his years at Purdue, Singh maximized his time spent working on his research, as he feared the lack of advanced technology upon his return to India might prevent him from publishing articles in American journals. He spent much of his time in campus libraries, computer centers and Byrne’s laboratory, noting that he felt elated when results were predicted but was always planning new experiments to explain the unexpected results.

Singh sits with former professor Duane Wegener to listen to a presentation

Singh (right) listens to a presentation during his sabbatical at Purdue in 2008.Photo provided

In 2008, Singh returned to Purdue to spend his sabbatical from the National University of Singapore in former Purdue psychological sciences professor Duane Wegener’s lab.

“The excellent training and positive experiences of my graduate student years and those of my son, Manish Singh, and daughter-in-law, Kalpana (Pandeya) Singh, in the School of Engineering in later decades kept me in regular contact with Purdue University,” Singh said, having presented an invited colloquium in the Department of Psychological Sciences in 1996.

Singh noted that his journey to career success was not always easy. When he first decided to major in psychology, older villagers in Balara in the District of Sarlahi in Nepal feared that he would not be able to find a well-paying job. Additionally, Singh recalled uncertainties with transitioning from psychology to management education in 1979 and working as a psychology professor in the National University of Singapore’s Department of Social Work in 1988, but he found the opportunities to work in different departments and with colleagues of diverse expertise to be exciting. At 76, he remains active in research and publications.

“I believe that my motivation for excellence and persistence on whatever is undertaken until the goal is reached have brought me the fruits of success, position and recognition that people often consciously plan and seek,” Singh said. “To me, therefore, life satisfaction comes from the sheer joy of doing what your heart desires and doing it rather well.”