Faculty member publishes book exploring dinner in American homes

April 08, 2019

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — David Livert, associate professor of psychology at Penn State Lehigh Valley, has co-written a book, “Making Dinner: How American Home Cooks Produce and Make Meaning Out of the Evening Meal.”

Livert’s coauthor is Roblyn Rawlins, who is a professor of sociology at the College of New Rochelle. It was published in January by Bloomsbury Academic.

cover of book with food on it

“Making Dinner: How American Home Cooks Produce and Make Meaning Out of the Evening Meal” was cowritten by David Livert, associate professor of psychology at Penn State Lehigh Valley.

IMAGE: David Livert

According to the publisher’s description, “Making Dinner” is an empirical study of home cooking in the United States. Drawing on a combination of research methods, which includes in-depth interviews with more than 50 cooks and cooking journals documenting more than 300 home-cooked dinners, Rawlins and Livert explore how American home cooks think and feel about themselves, food and cooking. Their findings reveal distinct types of cooks — the family-first cook, the traditional cook, and the keen cook — and demonstrate how personal identities, family relationships, ideologies of gender and parenthood, and structural constraints all influence what ends up on the plate.



Rawlins and Livert reveal research that fills the data gap on practices of home cooking in everyday life. This is an important contribution to fields such as food studies, health and nutrition, sociology, social psychology, anthropology, gender studies and American studies.

Livert earned a doctorate in social psychology from the City University of New York Graduate Center; and bachelor of science and master of science degrees in psychology from Vanderbilt University.

Head shot of David Livert

David Livert, associate professor of psychology, Penn State Lehigh Valley

IMAGE: David Livert

Livert is one of the few social psychologists who studies the preparation of food and professional kitchens. His research has examined chef personalities, conflict, teamwork and how work flourishes in these stressful settings. He has investigated these issues among chef students at the Culinary Institute of America, food production teams in professional kitchens, and American chefs cooking in Vietnam. His paper examining conflict among kitchen teams won a Best Conflict Paper award from the Academy of Management.

As a member of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI), Livert has served as council member, Journal of Social Issues Editorial Board member, Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, Convention Program Chair and Program Chair for the 2012 Convention. In 2016, SPSSI honored him with the Distinguished Service Award.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 09, 2019