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PIIRS Director’s Book Forum on how societies mind the gap

The Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies continues its 2013–14 Director’s Book Forum series with a presentation by Susan Fiske, Eugene Higgins Professor Psychology, on her coauthored article, “Nations’ Income Inequality Predicts Ambivalence in Stereotype Content: How Societies Mind the Gap,” on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at noon, in 219 Aaron Burr Hall at Princeton University.  The event is free and open to the public.

**Media who would like to attend should RSVP by April 8 to Carole Frantzen at or 609-258-7497**


Global contact requires accurate cultural maps, just as much as accurate geographic maps. The Stereotype Content Model, already validated in more than three dozen samples across 25 countries, maps how groups in a society relate to each other, in terms of perceived alliances and status hierarchies. These two universal dimensions—a group’s perceived warmth (intentions, trustworthiness) and competence (status, capability)—describe shared cultural stereotypes, not only how groups think about each other but also how they feel and act. Mapping these groups is a useful, efficient way to acquire some rapid initial cultural insight. For example, more unequal countries identify more groups in ambivalent terms, high on either warmth or competence but not both. These mixed images help “explain” income inequality (for example, disabled but deserving, rich but cold). In recent data from six Middle Eastern countries, Fiske and her coauthors examined a new type of cultural comparison: degree of conflict within the country. What happens as groups polarize in a civil war? Indicators of societal conflict and disorder generate both general principles and case-study descriptions.

About the author

Fiske, who is also a professor of psychology and public affairs, investigates social cognition, especially cognitive stereotypes and emotional prejudices, at cultural, interpersonal, and neuro-scientific levels. Author of over 300 publications and winner of numerous scientific awards, she has most recently been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Her most recent book, The HUMAN Brand: How We Respond to People, Products, and Companies, written with Chris Malone, was published in 2013.  She published Envy Up, Scorn Down: How Status Divides Us in 2011. With Shelley Taylor, she has written four editions of a classic text: Social Cognition (2013, 4th ed.) and, on her own, three editions of Social Beings: Core Motives in Social Psychology (2013, 3rd ed.). Her edited works include Beyond Common Sense: Psychological Science in the Courtroom (2008), the Handbook of Social Psychology (2010, 5th ed.), Social Neuroscience (2011), the Sage Handbook of Social Cognition (2012), and Facing Social Class: How Societal Rank Influences Interaction (2012). Currently an editor of Annual Review of Psychology, Proceedings of the National Association of Scientists, and Policy Insights from Behavioral and Brain Sciences, she is also president of the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences.


The aim of the PIIRS Director’s Book Forum series is to provide opportunities for Princeton faculty working in international and regional studies to present their most recently published work to the Princeton community. The series will continue throughout year.


Lunch will be provided at forum events; registration required. Contact the Carole Frantzen, or 609-258-7497.


Stephen Kotkin, John P. Birkelund ’52 Professor in History and International Affairs, is acting director of the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies in 2013–14.