Jennifer Richeson

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Jennifer Richeson
Born (1972-09-12) September 12, 1972 (age 48)
Alma mater
AwardsMacArthur Fellowship
Scientific career
FieldsSocial psychology

Jennifer A. Richeson is an American social psychologist who studies racial identity and interracial interactions. She is currently the Philip R. Allen Professor of Psychology at Yale University where she heads the Social Perception and Communication Lab. Prior to her appointment to the Yale faculty, Richeson was Professor of Psychology and African-American studies at Northwestern University. 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 held appointments in the psychology and African-American studies departments and was a faculty fellow of the Institute for Policy Research and the Center on Social Disparities and Health.[6] She joined the faculty at Yale University in 2016, where she is the Philip R. Allen Professor of Psychology and Director of the Social Perception and Communication Lab.[7][8]

In 2006 Richeson was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, also known as a "genius grant", for her work studying interracial interactions.[9] In April 2015 she was named a Guggenheim Fellow.[10] 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.[11]


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."[12] 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.[12]

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.[13] 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.[14][15][16] 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.[17][18][19][20]

Richeson also publishes opinion pieces and commentary in major media outlets on topics related to race.[21][22]


  1. ^ "Social Perception and Communication Lab". Northwestern University. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Hurd Anyaso, Hilary (April 30, 2015). "Jennifer Richeson elected to the National Academy of Sciences". Northwestern University News. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  3. ^ Turner Price, Dawn (July 6, 2009). "'Genius grant' winner details her rise from being lackluster student". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  4. ^ Berreby, David (October 2, 2007). "The Bias Detective". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  5. ^ "Faculty Spotlight: Jennifer Richeson". Northwestern University Institute for Policy Research. March 2013. Archived from the original on September 1, 2019. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  6. ^ a b Richeson, Jennifer. "Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 18, 2016. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  7. ^ "Jennifer Richeson to join Psychology Department faculty in 2016". Yale University Department of Psychology. April 6, 2015. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  8. ^ "Social Perception and Communication Lab". Yale University.
  9. ^ "Jennifer Richeson". MacArthur Foundation. September 1, 2006. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  10. ^ Hurd Anyaso, Hilary (April 14, 2015). "Two Northwestern faculty named Guggenheim Fellows". Northwestern University News. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  11. ^ "Two Black Scholars Elected Members of the National Academy of Sciences". The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. May 11, 2015. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  12. ^ a b "Social Perception and Communication Lab". Northwestern University. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  13. ^ "Editorial: Scanning the social brain". Nature Neuroscience. 6 (12): 1239. December 2003. doi:10.1038/nn1203-1239. PMID 14634651.
  14. ^ 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. PMID 14634652.
  15. ^ Richeson, Jennifer A; Baird, Abigail A; Gordon, Heather L; Heatherton, Todd F; Wyland, Carrie L; Trawalter, Sophie; Shelton, J Nicole (November 16, 2003). "An fMRI investigation of the impact of interracial contact on executive function". Nature Neuroscience. 6 (12): 1323–1328. doi:10.1038/nn1156. PMID 14625557.
  16. ^ Richeson, J. A.; Shelton, J. N. (May 1, 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. PMID 12741756.
  17. ^ Bouie, Jamelle (April 9, 2014). "Could America Become Mississippi?". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
  18. ^ "Is the Rising Democratic Majority Doomed?". Daily Intelligencer. New York Magazine. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
  19. ^ "Notion of Minority-Majority Nation Exacerbates White Racism". Pacific Standard. Archived from the original on May 26, 2015. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
  20. ^ Edsall, Thomas B. (May 20, 2014). "The Great White Hope". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
  21. ^ Richeson, Jennifer. "What Ivy League ties to slavery teach about absolution". Boston Globe. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
  22. ^ Richeson, Jennifer (March 21, 2015). "Stop mocking Starbucks's 'Race Together.' It could actually lead to useful conversations about race". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved May 26, 2015.

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