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Susan Fiske

Susan Fiske

American psychologist
Susan Fiske
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American psychologist
Is Psychologist
From United States of America
Type Healthcare
Gender female
Birth 19 August 1952
Age 68 years
The details


Susan Tufts Fiske (born August 19, 1952) is Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs at the Princeton University Department of Psychology. She is a social psychologist known for her work on social cognition, stereotypes, and prejudice. Fiske leads the Intergroup Relations, Social Cognition, and Social Neuroscience Lab at Princeton University. A recent quantitative analysis identifies her as the 22nd most eminent researcher in the modern era of psychology (12th among living researchers, 2nd among women). Her notable theoretical contributions include the development of the stereotype content model, ambivalent sexism theory, power as control theory, and the continuum model of impression formation.

Early years and personal life

Fiske comes from a family of psychologists and civil activists. Her father, Donald W. Fiske, was an influential psychologist who spent most of his career at the University of Chicago. Her mother, Barbara Page Fiske, was a civic leader in Chicago. Her brother, Alan Page Fiske, is an anthropologist at UCLA. Fiske's grandmother and great grandmother were Suffragette members. In 1973, Susan Fiske enrolled at Radcliffe College for her undergraduate degree in social relations at Harvard University where she graduated magna cum laude. She also received her PhD from Harvard University in 1978 for thesis titled Attention and the Weighting of Behavior in Person Perception. She currently resides in Princeton, New Jersey with her husband Douglas Massey, a Princeton sociologist.

Evolution of career

Shelley Taylor, an assistant professor at Harvard, was Fiske's first role model. The last semester of Fiske's senior year, the two worked together studying social cognition, particularly the effect attention has in social situations. After graduation, Fiske continued in the field of social cognition. At the time, and even today, there was conflict between the fields of social psychology and cognitive psychology, and some researchers wanted to keep these two fields separate. However, researchers like Fiske felt that significant knowledge could be attained by combining the fields. Fiske's experience with this conflict and her interest in the field of social cognition sparked the inspiration of the first edition of Fiske's and Taylor's book Social Cognition. This book provides an overview of the developing theories and concepts emerging in the field of social cognition, while explaining the use cognitive processes to understand social situations, ourselves and others. Fiske and Steven Neuberg went on to develop the first dual process model of social cognition, the "continuum model."

She gave expert testimony in the landmark case, "Hopkins vs. Price Waterhouse" which was eventually heard by the Supreme Court of the United States, making her the first social psychologist to testify in a gender discrimination case. This testimony led to a continuing interest in the use of psychological science in legal contexts.

After this case, Fiske became intrigued with gender research. Working with Peter Glick, Fiske analyzed the dependence of male-female interactions, leading to the development of ambivalent sexism theory. She also examined gender differences in social psychologists' publication rates and citations within the influential psychology journal, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The male authors in the sample submitted more articles and had higher acceptance rates (18% vs. 14%). Women's impact was the same as men's as measured through the number of citations in textbooks and handbooks, so women were more cited per article published.

Volunteering to complete the prejudice chapter in the Handbook of Social Psychology (4th Edition), Fiske realized that most research on prejudice focused on the relationship between African American and Caucasian individuals. With the lack of research on the diversity of the 20th century population's ethnicites, Fiske worked with Peter Glick and Amy Cuddy to develop the Stereotype Content Model. This model explains that warmth and competence differentiate out group stereotypes; indeed, these traits may be the first by which an individual is automatically evaluated.

Recently, Fiske has been involved in the field of social cognitive neuroscience. This emerging field examines how neural systems are involved in social processes, such as person perception. Fiske's own work has examined neural systems involved in stereotyping, intergroup hostility, and impression formation.

Fiske is a past president of the Association for Psychological Science, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, and the Foundation for the Advancement of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. She was also elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Political and Social Science. She has authored over 300 publications and has written several books, including her 2010 work Social Beings: A Core Motives Approach to Social Psychology and Social Cognition, a graduate level text that defined the now-popular subfield of social cognition. She has edited the Annual Review of Psychology (with Daniel Schacter and Shelley Taylor) and the Handbook of Social Psychology (with Daniel Gilbert and the late Gardner Lindzey). Other books include Envy Up, Scorn Down: How Status Divides Us, which describes how people constantly compare themselves to others, with toxic effects on their relationships at home, at work, in school, and in the world, and The Human Brand: How We Relate to People, Products, and Companies.


Her four most well-known contributions to the field of psychology are the stereotype content model, ambivalent sexism theory, the continuum model of impression formation, and the power-as-control theory. She is also known for the term cognitive miser, coined with her graduate adviser Shelley E. Taylor, referring to individuals' tendencies to use cognitive shortcuts and heuristics.

Stereotype content model

The stereotype content model (SCM) is a psychological theory arguing that people tend to perceive social groups along two fundamental dimensions: warmth and competence. The SCM was originally developed to understand the social classification of groups within the population of the U.S. However, the SCM has since been applied to analyzing social classes and structures across countries and history.

Ambivalent sexism theory

Fiske and Peter Glick developed the ambivalent sexism inventory (ASI) as a way of understanding prejudice against women. The ASI posits two sub-components of gender stereotyping: hostile sexism (male hostility towards women), and benevolent sexism (idealizing and protecting women).

Power-as-control theory

Power-as-control theory aims to explain how social power motivates people to heed or ignore others. In this framework, power is defined as control over valued resources and over others' outcomes. Low-power individuals attend to those who control resources, while powerful people need not attend to low-power individuals (since high-power individuals can, by definition, get what they want).

Continuum model of impression formation

This model describes the process by which we form impressions of others. Impression formation is framed as depending on two factors: The available information and the perceiver's motivations. According to the model, these two factors help to explain people’s tendency to apply stereotyping processes vs. individuating processes when forming social impressions.

Awards and achievements

Fiske became an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2013. In 2012, Fiske received the Leadership in Diversity Science Award, from the University of California at Los Angeles. In 2008 she was named President of the Foundation for the Advancement of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. In 2011, Fiske was elected into the Fellowship of the British Academy. During that year Fiske was also named honorary president of the Canadian Psychological Association. In 2010, she was awarded the American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award. She received numerous awards in 2009, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Association for Psychological Science William James Fellow Award, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology Donald Campbell Award, and Princeton University Graduate School Mentoring Award. In 2008, Fiske received the Staats Award for Unifying Psychology, from the American Psychological Association. In 2003 she was awarded the Thomas Ostrom Award from the International Social Cognition Network. Fiske also received the Award for Distinguished Service, Society for Personality and Social Psychology in 2006. She was awarded honorary degrees from the University of Basel in 2013, the University of Leiden in 2009 and the Université catholique de Louvain in 1995.

She has been President of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Division 8 of the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychological Society (now the Association for Psychological Science) in 2002.


  • Fiske, Susan T.; Schacter, Daniel L.; Zahn-Waxler, Carolyn (2004). Annual review of psychology. Palo Alto, Calif: Annual Reviews. ISBN 9780824302559. 
  • Fiske, Susan T.; Schacter, Daniel L.; Zahn-Waxler, Carolyn (2008). Annual review of psychology (volume 59). Palo Alto, Calif: Annual Reviews. ISBN 9780824302597. 
  • Fiske, Susan T.; Schacter, Daniel L.; Zahn-Waxler, Carolyn (2009). Annual review of psychology (volume 60). Palo Alto, Calif: Annual Reviews. ISBN 9780824302603. 
  • Fiske, Susan T.; Gilbert, Daniel T.; Lindzey, Gardner (2010). Handbook of social psychology (5th ed.). Hoboken, N.J: Wiley. ISBN 9780470137482. 
  • Fiske, Susan T.; Schacter, Daniel L.; Sternberg, Robert J. (2010). Annual review of psychology (volume 61). Palo Alto, Calif: Annual Reviews. ISBN 9780824302610. 
  • Fiske, Susan T. (2011). Envy up, scorn down: How status divides us. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. ISBN 978-0-87154-464-3. 
  • Fiske, Susan T.; Schacter, Daniel L.; Taylor, Shelley E. (2011). Annual review of psychology (volume 62). Palo Alto, Calif: Annual Reviews. ISBN 9780824302627. 
  • Todorov, Alexander T.; Fiske, Susan T.; Prentice, Deborah (2011). Social neuroscience: Toward understanding the underpinnings of the social mind. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-531687-2. 
  • Fiske, Susan T.; Macrae, C. Neil (2012). Sage handbook of social cognition. London: Sage. ISBN 978-0-85702-481-7. 
  • Fiske, Susan T.; Markus, Hazel R. (2012). Facing social class: How societal rank influences interaction. London: Russell Sage Foundation. ISBN 978-0-87154-479-7. 
  • Fiske, Susan T.; Schacter, Daniel L.; Taylor, Shelley E. (2012). Annual review of psychology (volume 63). Palo Alto, Calif: Annual Reviews. ISBN 9780824302634. 
  • Fiske, Susan T.; Taylor, Shelley E. (2013). Social cognition: From brains to culture (2nd ed.). London: Sage. ISBN 1446258157. 
  • Fiske, Susan T. (2013). Sage major works in social cognition. London: Sage. 
  • Fiske, Susan T. (2014). Social beings (4th ed.). New York: Wiley. 

Selected journal articles

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