Peggy A. Thoits is a sociologist whose research examines the unequal social distributions of stress experiences, coping strategies, social support, and mental health problems in the general adult population. She focuses especially on "identity-relevant" stressors, events and problems that threaten identities that are important to the person. A related line of her research focuses on the social patterning of deviant emotions, i.e., emotions that violate social norms of appropriate feeling and expressive display. Thoits generally takes a social psychological approach in her research, examining the influences of social factors on individuals' thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Thoits did her graduate work at Stanford University (1978 Ph.D.) and has taught at Washington State, Princeton, Indiana, Vanderbilt, and most recently, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where she was the Taylor-Williams Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Research Professor of Social Medicine. Thoits has been honored with the Leonard I. Pearlin Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Sociology of Mental Health and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Sociology of Emotions Section of the American Sociological Association. She returned to IU in 2008, delighted to be back.