Jennifer Richeson

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Jennifer Richeson
Richeson jennifer download 1.jpg
Nationality American
Fields social psychology
Institutions Stanford University;
Dartmouth College;
Northwestern University
Alma mater Brown University;
Harvard University.
Notable awards MacArthur Fellowship

Jennifer A. Richeson is an African-American social psychologist who studies racial identity and interracial interactions. She is currently a professor of psychology and African-American studies at Northwestern University, where she heads the Social Perception and Communication Lab. In 2015, she was elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Richeson was raised in a predominantly white middle-class area of Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of a businessman and a school principal. She has described herself as an indifferent and underachieving student in her childhood who blossomed after moving to schools with a more diverse student population. She has cited these early experiences as important in developing her interest in identity and interracial interactions.[3][4][5]


Richeson completed a B.S. in psychology at Brown University and earned her Ph.D. in social psychology at Harvard University in 2000. She was a fellow at Stanford University's Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity.[6]


Richeson became an assistant professor of psychology at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire in 2000. In 2005, she moved to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where she has appointments in the psychology and African-American studies departments and is a faculty fellow of the Institute for Policy Research and the Center on Social Disparities and Health.[6] The psychology department at Yale University has announced that she will be joining their faculty in 2016.[7]

In 2006 Richeson was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, also known as a "genius grant", for her work studying interracial interactions.[8] In April 2015 she was named a Guggenheim Fellow.[9] Later the same month, she was elected a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences,[2] one of only two new black members according to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.[10]


Richeson describes her research as focusing on "the ways in which social group memberships such as race and gender impact the way people think, feel, and behave."[11] Current ongoing projects in her research group include examining cognition and self-regulation during interracial interactions, the effects of racial bias on the mental health status of minorities, the challenges of navigating the dominant culture as a member of a minority group, and the ways in which perceptions of threat interact with race, particularly for young black men.[11]

Richeson's research makes use of fMRI neuroimaging studies. Her work in this area has been described as sophisticated and as moving past descriptive uses of imaging to test real hypotheses.[12] Several of her most influential papers describe fMRI-based findings related to increased cognitive control exerted during interracial interactions by white people whose implicit association test results indicate racial bias.[13][14][15] Richeson's more recent work on the effects of demographics on political attitudes - in which studies of politically independent white Americans revealed increasingly conservative political attitudes with increasing awareness of declining white population share - has been widely reported in the media as significant for the future of American national politics.[16][17][18][19]

Richeson also publishes opinion pieces and commentary in major media outlets on topics related to race.[20][21]


  1. ^ "Social Perception and Communication Lab". Northwestern University. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Hurd Anyaso, Hilary (30 April 2015). "Jennifer Richeson elected to the National Academy of Sciences". Northwestern University News. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  3. ^ Turner Price, Dawn (6 July 2009). "'Genius grant' winner details her rise from being lackluster student". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  4. ^ Berreby, David (2 October 2007). "The Bias Detective". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  5. ^ "Faculty Spotlight: Jennifer Richeson". Northwestern University Institute for Policy Research. March 2013. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Richeson, Jennifer. "Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  7. ^ "Jennifer Richeson to join Psychology Department faculty in 2016". Yale University Department of Psychology. 6 April 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  8. ^ "Jennifer Richeson". MacArthur Foundation. 1 September 2006. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  9. ^ Hurd Anyaso, Hilary (14 April 2015). "Two Northwestern faculty named Guggenheim Fellows". Northwestern University News. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  10. ^ "Two Black Scholars Elected Members of the National Academy of Sciences". Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. 11 May 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  11. ^ a b "Social Perception and Communication Lab". Northwestern University. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  12. ^ "Editorial: Scanning the social brain". Nature Neuroscience 6 (12): 1239. December 2003. doi:10.1038/nn1203-1239. 
  13. ^ Gehring, William J; Karpinski, Andrew; Hilton, James L (December 2003). "Thinking about interracial interactions". Nature Neuroscience 6 (12): 1241–1243. doi:10.1038/nn1203-1241. 
  14. ^ Richeson, Jennifer A; Baird, Abigail A; Gordon, Heather L; Heatherton, Todd F; Wyland, Carrie L; Trawalter, Sophie; Shelton, J Nicole (16 November 2003). "An fMRI investigation of the impact of interracial contact on executive function". Nature Neuroscience 6 (12): 1323–1328. doi:10.1038/nn1156. 
  15. ^ Richeson, J. A.; Shelton, J. N. (1 May 2003). "When Prejudice Does Not Pay: Effects of Interracial Contact on Executive Function". Psychological Science 14 (3): 287–290. doi:10.1111/1467-9280.03437. 
  16. ^ Bouie, Jamelle (9 April 2014). "Could America Become Mississippi?". Slate (in en-US). ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 2015-05-26. 
  17. ^ "Is the Rising Democratic Majority Doomed?". Daily Intelligencer. New York Magazine. Retrieved 2015-05-26. 
  18. ^ "Notion of Minority-Majority Nation Exacerbates White Racism". Pacific Standard. Retrieved 2015-05-26. 
  19. ^ Edsall, Thomas B. (2014-05-20). "The Great White Hope". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-05-26. 
  20. ^ Richeson, Jennifer. "What Ivy League ties to slavery teach about absolution". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2015-05-26. 
  21. ^ Richeson, Jennifer (2015-03-21). "Stop mocking Starbucks’s ‘Race Together.’ It could actually lead to useful conversations about race.". The Washington Post (in en-US). ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2015-05-26. 

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