Susan Fiske: Biography of this social psychologist

Few female psychologists have received proper care, and you could say that Susan Fiske is one of the few who has managed to receive the notoriety she deserves.

A great specialist in social phenomena from a cognitive psychology perspective, this social psychologist has contributed to the behavioral science of various theories on social cognition, studying aspects such as the formation of sexism and prejudices. He has written numerous books and articles, all of which are highly recommended to read.

But despite her work, she remains relatively unknown outside of this realm of laziness. Let’s look at his interesting life through it Susan Fiske biography in summary format.

    Brief biography of Susan Fiske

    Below we talk about the main vital facts that are remarkable in the life of Susan Fiske, a social psychologist who is still alive today and working for the dissemination of this branch of behavioral science.

    The first years of his life

    Susan Tufts Fiske was born on August 19, 1952 in the United States. Fiske’s family environment is made up of both psychologists and human rights defenders, which has marked him since his childhood in the interest of social psychology.

    Her father, Donald W. Fiske, was a very influential psychologist at the University of Chicago, while her mother, Barbara Page Fiske, was a leading activist. She is the sister of Alan Page Fiske, an anthropologist at UCLA, and her grandmother was a suffragist.

    In 1973, at age 21, Susan Fiske he began his studies at Radcliffe College to obtain a degree in social relations. He obtained his doctorate from Harvard University in 1978 with the Thesis Attention and weighting of behavior in the perception of the person.

    She currently resides in Princeton, New Jersey with her husband, sociologist Douglas Massey.

    professional career

    Susan Fiske had the opportunity to work with Harvard professor Shelley Taylor, which allowed her to study social cognition, focusing primarily on the effect of attention on social interactions. After graduating, Fiske continued to study and work in the field of social cognition.

    It should be noted that, since the beginnings of psychology as a science, the cognitive and social branches have never completely come to an agreement, and one could even say that they maintain a certain conflict today.

    Yet Fiske has succeeded, through his work, in uniting the best of both branches, especially when he has tried to delve deeper into the study of social cognition. As a result, Fiske he co-authored the book Social Cognition with Taylor.

    One of the great remarkable facts of his professional career is that of giving a professional opinion in the Prince Waterhouse vs. Hopkins from 1989.

    In the case, Fiske gave his testimony by being the first social psychologist to testify in a sex discrimination case. This event sparked interest in the application of psychology in legal contexts.

    He was later able to work with Peter Glick, when he set out to study addiction to male-female relationships, which enabled him to develop what would later become the theory of ambivalent sexism.

    One of the most interesting investigations that Fiske carried out was that of analyze gender differences in social psychology publications, Especially from one of the most influential journals in the field, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

    The finding of this research was that male social psychologists had a higher percentage of acceptance of their articles for publication compared to women, although the difference was not much greater (18% vs. 14%). In fact, she can see that the impact factor for women authors is the same as for men if you look at the number of citations in textbooks, in addition to being the most cited women per published article.

    Susan fiske has been involved in the formation and constitution of cognitive social neuroscience, A field that studies the neural bases behind social events.

    His contributions to psychology

    Susan Fiske’s scientific work is demonstrable on the basis of the many books, articles and lectures she has given throughout her career. In each of them, he addresses aspects specific to both the social and cognitive branch of psychology, explaining various theories related, above all, to the study of social cognition. There are four theories most relevant to all of his work.

    1. Theory of ambivalent sexism

    Together with Peter Glick, Fiske developed the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory (ASI), A tool developed to record and understand prejudices against the female group.

    This inventory has two components related to stereotypes against women: hostile sexism and benevolent sexism.

    Hostile sexism is expressed in particular against women, Those who do not meet the characteristics of the most traditional female figure or who fight for their rights.

    On the other hand, benevolent sexism refers to overprotective and paternalistic behavior towards women which conform to the traditional image of what a woman should look like. The theory argues that in the interaction between men and women, the latter are forced to come closer to the traditional image of femininity if they want men to pay attention to it or help them progress in their work.

    Although the privilege-contempt relationship generally runs in the male-female sense, the theory holds that men and women can practice both versions of sexism. However, it is usually men who exercise hostile sexism first and foremost.

      2. Content model of stereotypes

      The stereotypical content model is a psychological theory that people tend to perceive social groups according to two fundamental dimensions: warmth and competence.

      Warmly refers to the perception of the group as friendly and confident, while competence refers to the competence of the group to achieve its social goals.

      This theory found that people belonging to the same social group, for example the American middle class, perceive members of their same socio-economic group as more friendly and competent people than those of other groups.

      In addition, it allows us to understand how people see other groups that do not have as many privileges or economic resources, such as refugees, people at risk of exclusion … seeing them as neither warm nor competent. .

      Therefore, there are stereotypes that are both negative towards other groups and positive towards people in the same group, Exaggerate the threats and benefits of both groups.

      3. Theory of power as control

      The theory of power as control seeks to explain how the classes that hold power over society do that people behave ignoring or ignoring others, Based on how the wealthiest elites established it.

      4. Continuous pattern of impression formation

      This model attempts to explain how people make impressions of others. It is theorized that these first impressions are formed on the basis of two factors, one being the information available and the other the motivations of the person perceiving them.

      On the basis of these two factors, they help to explain the tendency of people to follow criteria more related to stereotypes accepted by the majority of the population or to individual beliefs.


      Susan Fiske has received several honorary degrees from various universities around the world, Including the University of Basel (2013), the University of Leiden (2009) and the Catholic University of Leuven (1995).

      In 2010 received the APA with the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award. In 2013, Susan Fiske became an elected member of the American National Academy of Sciences.

      She has served as president of the Personality Society and Social Psychology, APA Division 8, the Federation of Behavioral and Brain Sciences Associations, the American Psychological Society, and the Foundation for the Advancement of Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

      In 2014, a quantitative analysis was conducted in which it was concluded that Susan Fiske was one of the most eminent researchers of the modern era of psychology, Ranked twenty-second.

      She was also ranked 14th in that same scan for Top Living Researchers and was considered the second most important female psychologist.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Fiske, ST (2011). Envy, contempt: how the state divides us. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
      • Fiske, ST; Taylor, Shelley E. (2013). Social Cognition: From Brain to Culture (2nd ed.). London: Sage.
      • Fiske, ST (2014). Social beings (4th ed.). New York: Wiley.
      • Fiske, ST; Taylor, SE (1978). Exceptional, attention and attribution: superior phenomena. Advances in experimental social psychology. 11. p. 249-288.
      • Fiske, ST; Taylor, SE; Etcoff, NL; Ruderman, AJ (1978). “Categorical and contextual foundations of memory and stereotypes of the person”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 36 (7): 778-793.
      • Fiske, ST (1993). “Controlling Others: The Impact of Power on Stereotypes”. American psychologist. 48 (6): 621-628.
      • Fiske, ST; Glick, P. (1996). “Inventory of ambivalent sexism: differentiating between hostile and benevolent sexism”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 70 (3): 491-512.

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