Steven L Neuberg

Steven L Neuberg
Arizona State University | ASU · Department of Psychology

PhD

About

125
Publications
83,361
Reads
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16,087
Citations
Citations since 2016
25 Research Items
6750 Citations
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Introduction
Skills and Expertise
Additional affiliations
August 1988 - present
Arizona State University
Position
  • Professor
August 1987 - July 1988
University of Waterloo
Position
  • NATO Postdoctoral Fellow
August 1983 - August 1987
Carnegie Mellon University

Publications

Publications (125)
Article
Social perceivers seek to understand the opportunities and threats others potentially afford—for example, whether a teammate will behave tenaciously or a romantic partner, faithfully. We typically detect affordances and draw trait inferences by observing behaviors that reveal or predict others’ likely intentions and characteristics. However, detect...
Article
Full-text available
Why do some people have children earlier compared to others who delay reproduction? Drawing from an evolutionary, life history theory perspective, we posited that reproductive timing could be influenced by economic uncertainty and childhood socioeconomic status (SES). For individuals lower in childhood SES, economic uncertainty influenced the desir...
Article
Overweight and obese (“heavyweight”) people devalue themselves because, it has been proposed, they are socially devalued. However, for women, social valuation depends not only on how much weight they carry but also on where on their bodies they carry it. Here, we investigated whether weight-based self-valuation and perceived social valuation simila...
Article
Climate change is a problem that requires a multi-scale response from the individual to the global. Each level and type of entity has some capacity to influence climate change action and policy, but as a multi-level collective action problem, it is not surprising that there is underprovision of climate change action; this challenge highlights the n...
Preprint
People with overweight and obesity devalue themselves, partially because they are socially devalued. However, for women, social valuation depends not only on how much weight they carry but where on their bodies they carry it. Here, we investigate whether weight-based self-valuation and perceived social valuation also depend on body shape. Study 1,...
Article
Heavier bodies—particularly female bodies—are stigmatized. Such fat stigma is pervasive, painful to experience, and may even facilitate weight gain, thereby perpetuating the weight-stigma cycle. Leveraging research on functionally distinct forms of fat (deposited on different parts of the body), we propose that body shape plays an important but lar...
Preprint
Heavier bodies—particularly female bodies—are stigmatized. Such fat stigma is pervasive, painful to experience, and may even facilitate weight gain, thereby perpetuating the obesity-stigma cycle. Leveraging research on functionally distinct forms of fat (deposited on different parts of the body), we propose that body shape plays an important but la...
Chapter
The affordance-management approach conceptualizes stereotyping, stereotype content, prejudices, and discriminatory inclinations as interlinked cognitive, affective, and behavioral tools used to manage the social opportunities and threats afforded by other people. Presenting research from our labs, we show how the affordance management approach enha...
Article
Social science answers to the essential question of group conflict have focused on two main explanations—their motivating “grievances” and their mobilization “capacity” for collective action. Recent years have seen a renewed focus on grievances in the form of horizontal inequalities (between-group inequality), but the important conceptual and poten...
Article
Why do perceivers categorize and stereotype others by their biological sex and age? We suggest that perceivers do so because sex and age interactively shape adaptive goals (e.g., mating, parenting) and strategies. And because such goals and strategies pose different fitness-relevant opportunities and threats, social perceivers use others’ sex-age a...
Article
Advances in contemporary cognitive science suggest that our internal representational systems are powerfully shaped by interacting evolutionary, developmental, and neuro-computational processes. Although Jung’s archetypes of the collective unconscious are largely dismissed by modern psychological science, something very much like them emerges from...
Article
We revived Jung’s Archetypes to characterize what we see as an emerging confluence of evolutionary, embodied, and ecological responses to traditional cognitive models of mental representation. We propose that all humans possess archetypal representational systems that are (a) computationally grounded in perception and action, (b) shaped by learning...
Article
Full-text available
Replication research holds an increasingly important place in modern psychological science. If such work is to improve the state of knowledge rather than add confusion, however, replication attempts must be held to high standards of rigor. As an example of how replication attempts can add confusion rather than clarity, we consider an article by Sha...
Article
Faced with punishing severe offenders, why do some prefer imprisonment whereas others impose death? Previous research exploring death penalty attitudes has primarily focused on individual and cultural factors. Adopting a functional perspective, we propose that environmental features may also shape our punishment strategies. Individuals are attuned...
Article
Convincing people who doubt the validity of climate change and evolution to change their beliefs requires overcoming a set of ingrained cognitive biases
Preprint
Full-text available
Recent work has documented a wide range of important psychological differences across societies. Multiple explanations have been offered for why such differences exist, including historical philosophies, subsistence methods, social mobility, social class, climactic stresses, and religion. With the growing body of theory and data, there is an emergi...
Article
A new theoretical tool called life history theory offers an answer
Article
An evolutionary perspective on human motivation provides a means of identifying conceptually distinct motivational systems (including motives pertaining to self-protection, disease avoidance, affiliation, status, mate acquisition, mate retention, and parental care), each of which has unique implications for affect, cognition, and behavior. We provi...
Article
Full-text available
The world population has doubled over the last half century. Yet, research on the psychological effects of human population density, once a popular topic, has decreased over the past few decades. Applying a fresh perspective to an old topic, we draw upon life history theory to examine the effects of population density. Across nations and across the...
Article
Negative behaviors targeting gay men and lesbians range from violent physical assault to casting a vote against gay marriage, with very different implications for those targeted. Existing accounts of such actions, however, are unable to differentially predict specific anti-gay behaviors, leaving a large theoretical hole in the literature and hinder...
Article
Conversations are ubiquitous and central elements of daily life. Yet a fundamental feature of conversation remains a mystery: It is genuinely difficult to maintain an everyday conversation with more than four speakers. Why? We introduce a “mentalizing explanation” for the conversation size constraint, which suggests that humans have a natural limit...
Article
For women, forming close, cooperative relationships with other women at once poses important opportunities and possible threats-including to mate retention. To maximize the benefits and minimize the costs of same-sex social relationships, we propose that women's mate guarding is functionally flexible and that women are sensitive to both interperson...
Article
Full-text available
Significance Ecological features shape people’s goals, strategies, and behaviors. Our research suggests that social perceivers possess a lay understanding of ecology’s influence on behavior, resulting in ecology-driven stereotypes. Moreover, because race is confounded with ecology in the United States, Americans’ stereotypes about racial groups may...
Chapter
Full-text available
From an evolutionary perspective, prejudices, stereotypes, and discriminatory behaviors can be viewed as functionally organized strategies designed to manage the threats and opportunities posed by the human forms of sociality. This chapter explores, first, the evolved psychological mechanisms by which individuals (1) identify those who afford fitne...
Article
Intrasexual conflict may pose unique challenges for women. Whereas men’s aggression tends to be physical and direct, women’s tends to be relational and indirect, particularly when directed toward other women. Moreover, women’s expressions of anger are often suppressed, perhaps particularly when other women are the targets. Thus, women may face diff...
Article
Motivation has long been recognized as an important component of how people both differ from, and are similar to, each other. The current research applies the biologically grounded fundamental social motives framework, which assumes that human motivational systems are functionally shaped to manage the major costs and benefits of social life, to und...
Chapter
The authors expect humans to exhibit discriminate sociality and to possess psychological mechanisms designed to preserve the benefits of sociality and simultaneously limit its costs. They suggests that these evolved, domain-specific mechanisms collectively lead to phenomena that fall under the rubrics of social exclusion, stigmatization, and discri...
Article
The article provides an overview of key insights that have emerged from an evolutionary approach to the psychology of prejudice. Within this framework, prejudices and related phenomena are viewed as products of adaptations designed by natural selection to manage fitness-relevant threats and opportunities faced by ancestral populations. This framewo...
Chapter
I was a young, untenured assistant professor, a few years into my first job. Investigating social interaction processes, my laboratory studies were especially effort-and time-intensive. Each 90-minute experimental session required three participants who would engage in live interactions with at least one of the others. So that participants would be...
Chapter
We focus here on evolutionary social cognition—how everyday cognition is tied to the fundamental, recurring adaptive challenges of social life. We begin by articulating the logical foundations of evolutionary social cognition. We then discuss the ways in which evolutionary social cognition is inherently motivated social cognition and subsequently r...
Article
Research on the Behavioral Immune System (BIS) has made impressive gains in a short period of time. Distilled from the 7 thoughtful contributions to this forum, the author highlights 3 sets of ideas for moving BIS theory and research forward: (a) The benefits to be gained via additional vertical and horizontal conceptual integration, and via greate...
Article
Hibbing et al. use evolutionarily derived logic to suggest that political attitudes are related to responses to negative features of the environment. We suggest that the authors focus too narrowly on the negative and contend, instead, that a more comprehensive evolutionary approach focusing on people's responses to threats and opportunities will be...
Article
The connection between selfish genes and selfish goals is not merely metaphorical. Many goals that shape contemporary cognition and behavior are psychological products of evolutionarily fundamental motivational systems and thus are phenotypic manifestations of genes. An evolutionary perspective can add depth and nuance to our understanding of “self...
Article
Sexual prejudice may arise from beliefs that certain sexual orientation groups direct unwanted sexual interest, with the implication that heterosexual men and women hold prejudices against different groups. Study 1 confirmed that heterosexual women believe bisexual men, bisexual women, and lesbians (but not gay men) direct unwanted sexual interest,...
Article
The authors present a framework to better account for the social dimensions people use to categorize others and the nuanced stereotypes they hold. Conceiving stereotypes as imperfect but useful tools for managing social threats and opportunities, and incorporating ideas from Life History Theory, the authors propose three dimensions of special signi...
Article
Full-text available
How might religion shape intergroup conflict? We tested whether religious infusion-the extent to which religious rituals and discourse permeate the everyday activities of groups and their members-moderated the effects of two factors known to increase intergroup conflict: competition for limited resources and incompatibility of values held by potent...
Article
This study examined whether and under what conditions parents might stereotype their own heavyweight children. Parents completed a survey assessing their beliefs about their 9- to 11-year-old children. Parents were also assessed on factors previously demonstrated to moderate people's reactions to heavyweight strangers, including Protestant work eth...
Article
Why does beauty win out at the ballot box? Some researchers have posited that it occurs because people ascribe generally positive characteristics to physically attractive candidates. We propose an alternative explanation-that leadership preferences are related to functional disease-avoidance mechanisms. Because physical attractiveness is a cue to h...
Chapter
Evolutionary approaches to social cognition investigate how cognition may be intrinsically linked to long-recurring adaptive challenges of human social life. Prominent features of the evolutionary approach include the ideas that cognition is systematically modulated by fitness-relevant fundamental goals (e.g., self-protection, disease avoidance, so...
Chapter
Evolutionary approaches to social cognition investigate how cognition may be intrinsically linked to long-recurring adaptive challenges of human social life. Prominent features of the evolutionary approach include the ideas that cognition is systematically modulated by fitness-relevant fundamental goals (e.g., self-protection, disease avoidance, so...
Article
How do economic recessions influence attitudes toward redistribution of wealth? From a traditional economic self-interest perspective, attitudes toward redistribution should be affected by one's financial standing. A functional evolutionary approach suggests another possible form of self-interest: That during periods of economic threat, attitudes t...
Article
How do targets of stigma manage social interactions? We built from a threat-specific model of prejudice to predict that targets select impression-management strategies that address the particular threats other people see them to pose. We recruited participants from two groups perceived to pose different threats: overweight people, who are heuristic...
Article
Diversification of resources is a strategy found everywhere from the level of microorganisms to that of giant Wall Street investment firms. We examine the functional nature of diversification using life-history theory-a framework for understanding how organisms navigate resource-allocation trade-offs. This framework suggests that diversification ma...
Chapter
From an evolutionary perspective, human relationships are shaped by multiple cognitive and affective mechanisms designed to solve long-recurring problems and opportunities faced by our ancestors. Different relationships—romantic, parental, friendship, acquaintanceship—differ in the threats and opportunities they afford. Because of this, the psychol...
Chapter
An evolutionary perspective on human cognition provides a foundation for research programs that identify unique linkages between specific threats and specific prejudices directed against specific categories of people. It also provides a set of logical tools that help identify conditions under which these prejudices are exaggerated or inhibited. We...
Article
Different groups, because they are perceived to pose different threats, elicit different prejudices. Collective action by disadvantaged groups can amplify the perception of specific threats, with predictable and potentially counterproductive consequences. It is important to carefully consider the threat-based psychology of prejudice(s) before imple...
Article
Humans have perennially faced threats of violence from other humans and have developed functional strategies for surviving those threats. Five studies examined the relation between threats of violence and agreeableness at the level of nations, individuals, and situations. People living in countries with higher military spending (Study 1) and those...
Article
When anger or happiness flashes on a face in the crowd, do we misperceive that emotion as belonging to someone else? Two studies found that misperception of apparent emotional expressions - "illusory conjunctions" - depended on the gender of the target: male faces tended to "grab" anger from neighboring faces, and female faces tended to grab happin...
Chapter
This chapter explores scientific influence and the importance of connections, citing the positions of Kevin Bacon in the network of actors, Paul Erdös in the network of mathematicians, and Robert Cialdini in the network of psychologists, economists, and politicians. It argues that the most important connections in the case of research scientists de...
Article
Much research shows that people are loss averse, meaning that they weigh losses more heavily than gains. Drawing on an evolutionary perspective, we propose that although loss aversion might have been adaptive for solving challenges in the domain of self-protection, this may not be true for men in the domain of mating. Three experiments examine how...
Article
Full-text available
Classic economic models presumed that human decision-makers are rational, making self-serving strategic choices based on full information about alternatives. Behavioral economic models assume decision processes are bounded by limited information, leading to biased and irrational choices that are often based on immediately salient cues. An evolution...
Article
Much research shows that people are loss-averse, meaning that they weigh losses more heavily than gains. From an evolutionary perspective, loss aversion would be expected to increase or decrease as a function of adaptive context. For example, loss aversion could have helped deal with challenges in the domain of selfprotection, but would not have be...
Article
Full-text available
Cancer therapy selects for cancer cells resistant to treatment, a process that is fundamentally evolutionary. To what extent, however, is the evolutionary perspective employed in research on therapeutic resistance and relapse? We analyzed 6,228 papers on therapeutic resistance and/or relapse in cancers and found that the use of evolution terms in a...
Article
Full-text available
Detecting signs that someone is a member of a hostile outgroup can depend on very subtle cues. How do ecology-relevant motivational states affect such detections? This research investigated the detection of briefly-presented enemy (versus friend) insignias after participants were primed to be self-protective or revenge-minded. Despite being told to...
Article
Neoplastic progression is an evolutionary process and cancer prevention is successful to the extent that it can impact that process, reducing the likelihood that premalignant cells will evolve invasive or metastatic phenotypes. Despite the centrality of somatic evolution in cancer progression, evolutionary tools and analyses have rarely been applie...
Article
A number of studies have found a disjunction between women's attention to, and memory for, handsome men. Although women pay initial attention to handsome men, they do not remember those men later. The present study examines how ovulation might differentially affect these attentional and memory processes. We found that women near ovulation increased...
Chapter
1. What is Evolutionary Social Psychology? 2. Important Assumptions and Conceptual Tools 3. The Affordance Management System 4. Evolutionary Perspectives on Social Psychological Phenomena 5. Linkages to Development, Learning, and Culture 6. Thinking Straight about Theory and Research in Evolutionary Social Psychology 7. Future Directions 8. Final C...
Article
Full-text available
Four thoughtful commentaries identify important issues and insights pertaining to the pyramid of needs presented by Kenrick, Griskevicius, Neuberg, and Schaller (2010, this issue). Here, we offer additional thoughts on some of these issues and insights, with an emphasis on the logical implications that result from an evolutionary analysis of fundam...
Article
Maslow's pyramid of human needs, proposed in 1943, has been one of the most cognitively contagious ideas in the behavioral sciences. Anticipating later evolutionary views of human motivation and cognition, Maslow viewed human motives as based in innate and universal predispositions. We revisit the idea of a motivational hierarchy in light of theore...
Article
When encountering individuals with a potential inclination to harm them, people face a dilemma: Staring at them provides useful information about their intentions but may also be perceived by them as intrusive and challenging-thereby increasing the likelihood of the very threat the people fear. One solution to this dilemma would be an enhanced abil...
Article
Previous theorizing suggests that often-stigmatized individuals may be just as likely, if not more likely, than infrequently stigmatized individuals to protect self-regard by derogating members of low-status groups after receiving negative feedback from high-status others. Often-stigmatized individuals, however, can discount criticism from these hi...
Article
Full-text available
Social living brings humans great rewards, but also associated dangers, such as increased risk of infection from others. Although the body's immune system is integral to combating disease, it is physiologically costly. Less costly are evolved mechanisms for promoting avoidance of people who are potentially infectious, such as perceiving oneself as...
Article
Fundamental motives have direct implications for evolutionary fitness and orchestrate attention, memory, and social inference in functionally specific ways. Motivational states linked to self-protection and mating offer illustrative examples. When self-protective motives are aroused, people show enhanced attention to, and memory for, angry male str...
Article
When encountering individuals with a potential inclination to harm them, people face a dilemma: Staring at them provides useful information about their intentions but may also be perceived by them as intrusive and challenging—thereby increasing the likelihood of the very threat the people fear. One solution to this dilemma would be an enhanced abil...
Article
What is a "rational" decision? Economists traditionally viewed rationality as maximizing expected satisfaction. This view has been useful in modeling basic microeconomic concepts, but falls short in accounting for many everyday human decisions. It leaves unanswered why some things reliably make people more satisfied than others, and why people freq...
Article
Does seeing a scowling face change your impression of the next person you see? Does this depend on the race of the two people? Across four studies, White participants evaluated neutrally expressive White males as less threatening when they followed angry (relative to neutral) White faces; Black males were not judged as less threatening following an...
Article
The unfavorable treatment of people with physical disfigurements is well-documented, yet little is known about basic perceptual and cognitive responses to disfigurement. Here, we identify a specialized pattern of cognitive processing consistent with the hypothesis that disfigurements act as heuristic cues to contagious disease. Disfigurements are o...
Article
How do frequently stigmatized individuals feel about and respond to members of other potentially stigmatizable groups? Four studies demonstrated that perceptions of majority group norms regarding prejudice expression can shape how minority individuals respond to minority individuals from other groups. Study 1 revealed that Black and White men and w...
Article
Group living offers humans substantial fitness-enhancing benefits, although it also affords significant fitness-decreasing costs. To enhance these benefits and reduce these costs, individuals use emotional, cognitive, and behavioral mechanisms designed to help them effectively manage the complexities of life in highly interdependent groups. The aut...
Article
We tested the hypothesis that, compared with sociosexually restricted individuals, those with an unrestricted approach to mating would selectively allocate visual attention to attractive opposite-sex others. We also tested for sex differences in this effect. Seventy-four participants completed the Sociosexual Orientation Inventory, and performed a...
Article
More than 100 articles have examined the construct of stereotype threat and its implications. However, stereotype threat seems to mean different things to different researchers and has been employed to describe and explain processes and phenomena that appear to be fundamentally distinct. Complementing existing models, the authors posit a Multi-Thre...
Article
Full-text available
Findings of 7 studies suggested that decisions about the sex of a face and the emotional expressions of anger or happiness are not independent: Participants were faster and more accurate at detecting angry expressions on male faces and at detecting happy expressions on female faces. These findings were robust across different stimulus sets and judg...
Article
Full-text available
Humans, as discriminately social creatures, make frequent judgments about others' suitability for interdependent social relations. Which characteristics of others guide these judgments and, thus, shape patterns of human affiliation? Extant research is only minimally useful for answering this question. On the basis of a sociofunctional analysis of h...
Article
People often find it more difficult to distinguish ethnic out-group members compared with ethnic in-group members. A functional approach to social cognition suggests that this bias may be eliminated when out-group members display threatening facial expressions. In the present study, 192 White participants viewed Black and White faces displaying eit...
Article
The present study explored the possibility that notetaking would help accuracy-minded interviewers to avoid cognitive expectation biases. Interviewers in simulated employment interviews were given bogus pre-interview expectations about their applicants and were either encouraged or not encouraged to take extensive notes. Consistent with past resear...
Article
Before delving deeply into our evolution-based perspective, we begin by noting the evolutionary significance of simple social categorization and stereotyping processes. The bulk of the chapter is then devoted to describing a threat-based approach to understanding prejudices, outlining some implications of this approach for altering unwarranted prej...
Article
ABSTRACT—People oftenfinditmoredifficult todistinguish ethnic out-group members,compared,with ethnic in-group members.,A functional approach,to social cognition sug- gests that this bias may,be eliminated,when,out-group members,display threatening,facial expressions. In the present study, 192 White participants viewed Black and White faces displayi...
Article
An evolutionary approach to social cognition yields novel hypotheses about the perception of people belonging to specific kinds of social categories. These implications are illustrated by empirical results linking the perceived threat of physical injury to stereotypical impressions of outgroups. We review a set of studies revealing several ways in...
Article
The authors suggest that the traditional conception of prejudice--as a general attitude or evaluation--can problematically obscure the rich texturing of emotions that people feel toward different groups. Derived from a sociofunctional approach, the authors predicted that groups believed to pose qualitatively distinct threats to in-group resources o...
Article
Results from 2 experimental studies suggest that self-protection and mate-search goals lead to the perception of functionally relevant emotional expressions in goal-relevant social targets. Activating a self-protection goal led participants to perceive greater anger in Black male faces (Study 1) and Arab faces (Study 2), both out-groups heuristical...
Article
In this chapter, Robert Kurzban and Steven Neuberg approach problems of group living through a different lens-adaptations for managing in-group and out-group relationships. Specifically, they focus on discrimination, stigmatization, and social exclusion. Whereas most mainstream psychologists treat these pervasive human social phenomena as by-produc...
Article
For us, the problem with the three-ring circus presentation of social psychology is that it masks something crucial: Human social behaviors are woven together in related, interconnected patterns. To present an array of separate, disjointed chapter topics--aggression here, persuasion, prejudice, and personal relationships there, there, and there--of...
Article
Might Valentine's Day, despite its marketing as a holiday to enhance romantic relationships, paradoxically facilitate their demise? Because Valentine's Day provides a useful opportunity for exploring the potential influences of recurring culture-wide events on relationships, we asked college students in romantic relationships about relationship sta...
Article
INTRODUCTION, Walking across a crowding shopping mall, you may see a group of people who vary in their race, gender, attractiveness, clothing style, and demeanor. A similarly complex array of social stimuli confronts us at conferences, airports, farmer's markets, and college campuses. Rarely do we attend equally to all individuals in such complex s...
Article
Across 5 experimental studies, the authors explore selective processing biases for physically attractive others. The findings suggest that (a). both male and female observers selectively attend to physically attractive female targets, (b). limiting the attentional capacity of either gender results in biased frequency estimates of attractive females...
Article
Full-text available
To investigate the existence of true altruism, the authors assessed the link between empathic concern and helping by (a) employing an experimental perspective-taking paradigm used previously to demonstrate empathy-associated helping and (b) assessing the empathy-helping relationship while controlling for a range of relevant, well-measured nonaltrui...
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Full-text available
The ability of accuracy-motivated perceivers to form individuated impressions of targets and to avoid creating self-fulfilling prophecies is hypothesized to depend on sufficient attentional resources. Accuracy-motivated interviewers were led to believe that their applicants were either well suited for the job or not and were given either no task or...