MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 2006

Jennifer Richeson

Social Psychologist

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

Northwestern University

Evanston, Illinois

Age: 34 at time of award

Published September 1, 2006

Jennifer Richeson is a social psychologist who examines the behavioral and cognitive consequences of prejudice and racial stereotyping to reveal original insights into the dynamics of interracial interaction. Using a broad range of empirical methods, including fMRI measures, survey techniques, implicit cognitive processing measures, and self-report measures, Richeson analyzes the experiences of members of both minority and majority groups in their interactions with one another. A key finding of her work is that such interactions require heightened self-control to combat expressions of prejudice, calling on increased cognitive effort and resulting in decreased effectiveness on other cognitive tasks. Her work provides a novel way of examining and calculating the “costs” associated with intergroup interactions. In related research, Richeson addresses factors preventing individuals from engaging in interracial interactions, finding evidence that systematic mutual misperceptions – “pluralistic ignorance” – create unnecessary psychological barriers. In other investigations, she explores motivational and contextual variables that influence how racial cues are used in categorizing other people. Bringing new life to the topic of intergroup relations, Richeson takes the lead in highlighting and analyzing major challenges facing all races in America and the continuing role played by prejudice and stereotyping in our lives.    

Jennifer Richeson received an Sc.B (1994) in psychology from Brown University and a Ph.D. (2000) in social psychology from Harvard University. Since 2005, she has been an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University, where she is also a faculty fellow at the Institute for Policy Research. Prior to joining the faculty at Northwestern, she was a visiting fellow at the Research Institute for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity at Stanford University (2004-2005) and an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth College (2000-2005).


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