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Fiske, Susan

Susan T. Fiske Princeton University, USA

Susan T. Fiske is Eugene Higgins Professor, Psychology and Public Affairs, Princeton University (Ph.D., Harvard University; honorary doctorates, Université Catholique de Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium; Universiteit Leiden, Netherlands; Universität Basel, Switzerland; Universidad de Granada, Spain). She attended Harvard/Radcliffe College, majoring in Social Relations, where she met her graduate advisor and lifelong collaborator, Shelley Taylor. After her doctorate in social psychology, she worked at Carnegie-Mellon and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, before moving to Princeton in 2000.

She investigates social cognition, especially cognitive stereotypes and emotional prejudices, at cultural, interpersonal, and neural levels. Author of about 400 articles and chapters, she is most known for work on social cognition, theories and research on how people think about each other: the continuum model of impression formation, the power-as-control theory, the ambivalent sexism theory, and the stereotype content model (SCM).

Her current SCM work focuses on the two fundamental dimensions of social cognition, perceived warmth (friendly, trustworthy) and perceived competence (capable, assertive). Upstream, perceived social structure predicts these stereotypes (cooperation-competition predicts warmth; status predicts competence). Downstream, specific emotions follow each warmth-x-competence quadrant (pride, disgust, envy, pity) and predict specific behaviors (active and passive help or harm). Using representative sample surveys, lab experiments, and neuro-imaging, Fiske lab has focused on varieties of dehumanization predicted by the SCM: dehumanizing allegedly disgusting homeless people, Schadenfreude toward the enviable rich, as well as paternalistic pity and prescriptive prejudices toward older people, disabled people, and women in traditional roles. Current work uses natural language analyses to explore spontaneous descriptions of others. Adversarial collaborations on research and adversarial alignments on theory are current projects to advance her science.

The U.S. Supreme Court cited her gender-bias testimony, and she testified before President Clinton’s Race Initiative Advisory Board. These influenced her edited volume, Beyond Common Sense: Psychological Science in the Courtroom. Currently an editor of the Annual Review of Psychology, PNAS, Policy Insights from Behavioral and Brain Sciences, and Handbook of Social Psychology, she has written the upper-level texts Social Beings: Core Motives in Social Psychology (4/e) and Social Cognition: From Brains to Culture 6/e). She also co-wrote The Human Brand: How We Relate to People, Products, and Companies, which applies her models to how people perceive corporations. Her general-interest book, funded by a Guggenheim and the Russell Sage Foundation, is Envy Up and Scorn Down: How Status Divides Us.

She has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. In 2020, she and Shelley Taylor shared the, Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Social Sciences, BBVA Foundation, Bilbao, Spain, for the 1984 publication of Social Cognition, all editions citation total 19,000. She has served as President of the Association for Psychological Science (APS), President of the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, as well as its FABBS Foundation, and President of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. She has won Distinguished Scientific Contribution Awards from APA, SPSP, and SESP. Because it takes a village, her many graduate students and lab alumni conspired for her to win Princeton’s Graduate Mentoring Award. She is grateful to be the only person so far to have won the three APS Awards: James (basic science), Cattell (applied science), and Mentoring.