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Indiana University Bloomington

Mary Murphy

Dr. Mary Murphy

Associate Professor


mcmpsych [at]

office: PY 355 | (812)855-4581

lab: Mind and Identity in Context Lab
   PY 386


Self and social identity threat; Stereotype threat; Stereotyping and prejudice; Intergroup dynamics; Interracial interaction and friendship; Organizational lay theories; Structural and psychological barriers for underrepresented groups

Educational Background

  • 2000- B.A., University of Texas at Austin
  • 2002- M.A., Stanford University
  • 2007- Ph.D., Stanford University
  • 2007-2009- National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, Northwestern University

Areas of Study

  • Social Psychology

Research Topics

  • Self and social identity threat
  • Stereotype threat
  • Stereotyping and prejudice
  • Intergroup dynamics
  • Interracial interaction and friendship
  • Organizational lay theories
  • Structural and psychological barriers for underrepresented groups (women in STEM, students of color in academia)

Research Summary:

Broadly speaking, my research focuses on developing and testing theories about how people's social identities and group memberships interact with the contexts they encounter to affect their thoughts, feelings, behaviors, physiology, and motivation. I currently focus on three programs of research.

One aspect of my research program focuses on how situational cues in academic, organizational, and group environments affect people’s cognition, motivation, performance, and physiology. For example, many explanations for the under-representation and underperformance of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields, and of minorities in academia, focus on biological and socialization factors that may contribute to these phenomena. My work posits and examines the cues hypothesis, testing how the structure, organization, and situational cues in a setting impact people with stereotyped or stigmatized social identities, making them cognitively and physiologically vigilant, depressing their sense of belonging, and decreasing their desire to continue to participate in the setting. I also examine the particular concerns situational cues engender among underrepresented groups, with an eye toward intervention. The Spencer Foundation and the National Science Foundation have funded this research.

Another line of research examines how organizations' philosophies of intelligence-whether organizations believe that intelligence is a fixed trait, or that it malleable and expandable by hard work and effort-shape the motivation of workers. Current work in this area examines representations of intelligence and genius in society and measures their effects on people's creativity, performance, and motivation in various work settings.

A final line of research examines situational cues in inter- and intra-racial interactions that affect people's levels of identity threat, emotional experiences, cognitive performance, and motivation to build friendships. In one paper, we have examined how a White interaction partner's friendship network has important meaning for racial minority students when they anticipate interacting with him/her. If the White partner has diverse friends, the minority student feels that they will be stereotyped less, experience fewer interpersonal concerns, and is more willing to discuss sensitive racial topics with their partner. Current work is examining other situational cues-such as interaction goals and diversity messages-in inter- and intra-racial settings that affect minority and majority members' psychological and physiological outcomes. The National Science Foundation is currently funding this research.

Representative Publications

Murphy M. C., Steele, C. M. & Gross, J. J. (2007). Signaling threat: How situational cues affect women in math, science, and engineering settings. Psychological Science, 18, 879-885.

Murphy, M. C. & Dweck, C. S. (2010). A culture of genius: How environments' lay theories shape people's cognition, affect, and behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 283-296.

*Wout, D. A., *Murphy, M.C. & Steele, C. M. (2010). When your friends matter: The effect of White students' racial friend networks on meta-perceptions and perceived identity contingencies. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 1035-1041.

Murphy, M.C., Richeson, J. A., Molden, D.C. (2010). A motivational approach to studying interracial interactions. Personality and Social Psychology Compass.

Murphy, M.C., & Taylor, V.J. (2011). The role of situational cues in signaling and maintaining stereotype threat. To appear in Inzlicht, M. & Schmader, T. (Eds.). Stereotype threat: Theory, Process, and Applications. Oxford University Press: New York, NY.

Bean, M.G., Slaten, D., Horton, W.S., Murphy, M.C., Todd, A.R., & Richeson, J.A. (in press). Prejudice concerns and race-based selective attention: Evidence from eyetracking. Social and Personality Psychological Science.

Murphy, M.C. & Walton, G.M. (in press). From prejudiced people to prejudiced places: A social-contextual approach to prejudice. To appear in Stangor, C. & Crandall, C. (Eds.). Frontiers in Social Psychology Series: Stereotyping and Prejudice. Psychology Press: New York, NY.

* Indicates joint first authorship.