Susan T. Fiske

Princeton University

Election Year: 2013
Primary Section: 52, Psychological and Cognitive Sciences
Secondary Section: 53, Social and Political Sciences
Membership Type: Member


Susan T. Fiske is Eugene Higgins Professor, Psychology and Public Affairs, Princeton University. A Harvard BA and PhD, she has honorary doctorates from Université Catholique de Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium; Universiteit Leiden, Netherlands; and Universität Basel, Switzerland. Growing up in Chicago's Hyde Park, daughter of psychologist Donald Fiske and civic volunteer Barbara Fiske, during a period of social activism, she combined methodological rigor with trying to make the world a better place through behavioral and social science. After stints at Carnegie-Mellon University, in its heady Herbert Simon era, and University of Massachusetts at Amherst, with its theory-driven applicable research, she landed at Princeton in 2000, where her joint appoint at the Woodrow Wilson School suits her policy and interdisciplinary bent. Currently editing for Annual Review of Psychology, PNAS, and Policy Insights from Behavioral and Brain Sciences, she is also President of the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (FABBS). Her students arranged for her to win the University's Graduate Mentoring Award. She gardens vegetables in Vermont, reads contemporary fiction, and plays poker with her blended family, sociologist Doug Massey; Doug's daughter, training in early-childhood education; Susan's budding social-psychologist daughter and her law-student boyfriend; plus a banker stepson, his early-intervention-expert wife, and two grand-toddlers.

Research Interests

Fiske investigates social cognition, especially cognitive stereotypes and emotional prejudices, at cultural, interpersonal, and neuro-scientific levels. She is most known for 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, prescriptive ageism, and the stereotype content model (SCM). Current SCM work focuses on the two fundamental dimensions of social cognition: other people's apparent warmth/trustworthiness and competence. People use social structure to infer these dimensions (cooperation-competition predicts warmth; status predicts competence). Distinct emotions (pride, disgust, envy, pity) reflect each warmth-x-competence quadrant. Specific behaviors (active and passive help or harm) follow. Her lab currently focuses on SCM's varieties of prejudices: 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. Applying the SCM is her just-published The HUMAN Brand: How We Relate to People, Products, and Companies (with Chris Malone, 2013). Focused on social comparison is Envy Up, Scorn Down: How Status Divides Us (2011). With Shelley Taylor, she wrote a classic text: Social Cognition (2013, 4/e) and solo, Social Beings: Core Motives in Social Psychology (2013, 3/e). She edited the Handbook of Social Psychology (2010, 5/e), Social Neuroscience (2011), the Sage Handbook of Social Cognition (2012), Beyond Common Sense: Psychological Science in the Courtroom (2008), and Facing Social Class: How Societal Rank Influences Interaction (2012).

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