Hazel R. Markus
Hazel Markus’s theoretical and empirical innovations in the study of the self are considered by many to be foundational in social psychology. In showing that the self contains representations of future experience, both hoped for and feared, she anticipated the new innovative predictive coding theories of the mind by several decades. These possible selves characterize a person’s context-based motivation, achievement, and action, and can explain behaviors ranging from academic persistence to compliance with health regimes. The self-related concepts that Markus introduced several decades ago remain some of the most researched topics in social psychology today.
Markus made a second seminal contribution in founding the field of cultural psychology (with her collaborator Shinobu Kitayama). She helped to develop new research methods and approaches that clearly show that the Western conceptions of self as a bounded entity separate from others are not universal, and that variations in self-concept are linked to broader cultural imperatives.
Markus is again tilling the scientific terrain for others to follow as the director of Stanford’s Research Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. The Center has been highly successful in fostering multidisciplinary research and in preparing students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds for research careers. Her most recent work within the Center examines the psychology of social class.
Markus is an unwavering advocate for diversity in psychological science, and she continues to use her considerable energy in generative ways, both to support young scientists to do their most innovative work, and to maximize the real world impact of social psychology.