2016 APS Mentor Award

Susan T. Fiske

Princeton University

Susan T. Fiske is best known for her scholarship on stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination. She is a pioneer in using insights into social cognition and social neuroscience to examine social relationships and power differences between members of different groups in society, and her influence in the field extends beyond her own research. She is a key advocate for the merits and added value of our discipline, for instance, in communicating relevant insights to national policy makers and different professional audiences.

Fiske’s mentees at various career stages from different countries around the world consistently characterize her as an inspiring example, one who is dedicated to all aspects of her own work, while making them feel empowered by her support and belief in their abilities. Her particular commitment to female, minority and European students is described by them as “life changing.”

APS Fellow Naomi Ellemers found Fiske’s attention striking in an era when many European social psychologists felt somewhat insecure about their work, afraid they were lagging behind their counterparts in North America. “Susan was different,” Ellemers said. “She reached out, invited European scholars to her lab, made sure she knew who was who and what we were working on, and generally made herself available to us.”

Many of Fiske’s mentees describe her as someone who is always available and never fails to provide timely feedback to students. Fiske sees graduate-student advising as the most important part of her job, and her mentees note that this is an incredible commitment for a leading scientist whose research on stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination has been recognized with the APS William James Fellow Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, membership in the National Academy of Sciences, and dozens of other accolades. An APS Past President, Fiske also has taken on significant service activities as a leader in professional organizations and as an editor.

Students of Fiske share the opportunities of the vast professional network that her academic and community involvements have afforded her. She attends as many conferences as she can and uses these events as chances to introduce her students to new colleagues.

Fiske’s mentees also express a deep appreciation of her unfailing confidence in their abilities. More importantly, she makes her mentees see their own strengths. As one mentee shared, “Imposter Syndrome is real, but Susan is the ultimate vaccine.”