in the video below, social psychologist Jennifer Richeson, whose research into intergroup interactions has created a much deeper understanding of inequality and racism in the United States, delivers the SAGE-CASBS Award Lecture.
The pandemic-delayed lecture, “The Mythology of Racial Progress,” was delivered on the Stanford University campus on April 21, 2022. After the lecture, Richeson sat down for an interview with SAGE Publishing founder Sara Miller McCune, and that interview appears after the lecture video.
“What is the mythology of racial progress?” Richeson asks early in her lecture. “This is a narrative, a dominant story that we have in our country about ourselves, about our country, that really understands that at some point in the past we weren’t very racially egalitarian. This is in slavery,” she offers as an example, “the treatment of Native Americans. But we’re steadily, readily, automatically, making progress toward greater racial equality,” she describes the gist of the myth, offering as support for this view the civil rights movement or the election of Barack Obama.
“The problem with this story, with most stories that have taken on this mythic space in our national imagination, is that is shapes what we see and how we perceive the actual state of racial inequality.” And this misperception in turn shapes what actions, if any, we need to engender that equality.
The Mythology of Racial Progress: SAGE-CASBS Award lecture
2022 SAGE-CASBS Award Winner Jennifer Richeson in Conversation with Sara Miller McCune
Richeson, the Philip R. Allen Professor of Psychology at Yale University, has generated original insights into the cognitive, affective, and behavioral dynamics of intergroup interactions – some of which shape basic mind and brain processes related to memory, attention, and decision-making. Most of her work examines ways in which gender, race, and socio-economic status influence how people think, perceive, and behave, particularly when they interact with members of different sociocultural groups. This includes investigating how people from both culturally devalued groups and traditionally dominant groups experience and respond to societal diversity, inequality, and injustice, as well as exploring both the antecedents and consequences of prejudice and stereotyping.
Her studies on the effects of demographics on political attitudes – showing that politically independent white Americans who gain greater awareness of the relative decline of whites in the population reveal increasingly conservative attitudes – have received high-profile media coverage and stimulated public discussion.
She is actively translates basic scientific research into applied knowledge and practice, for example serving as a Faculty Fellow at Yale’s Institution for Social and Policy Studies, affiliating with the Stone Center on Socioeconomic Inequality at CUNY, and serving as an executive committee member on the Societal Experts Action Network, part of the National Academies.
Established in 2013, the SAGE-CASBS Award – sponsored by SAGE Publishing and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University — recognizes outstanding achievement in the behavioral and social sciences that advance our understanding of pressing social issues.
Richeson’s receiving the award marks the latest honor in her illustrious career. Past recognition includes a 2007 John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (known as the “genius award”), a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2015), the Mamie Phipps Clark and Kenneth B. Clark Distinguished Lecture Award from Columbia University (2019), the Career Trajectory Award from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology (2019), and a Carnegie Foundation Senior Fellowship (2020). Richeson received an honorary doctorate from Brown University, her undergraduate alma mater, in 2019. She is an elected fellow of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences.