A social psychologist at Stanford University, Jennifer Eberhardt investigates the consequences of the psychological association between race and crime. Through interdisciplinary collaborations and a wide ranging array of methods—from laboratory studies to novel field experiments—Eberhardt has revealed the startling, and often dispiriting, extent to which racial imagery and judgments suffuse our culture and society, and in particular shape actions and outcomes within the domain of criminal justice.

Academic Appointments

Administrative Appointments

  • Teaching Faculty Member, Departments of Psychology and African and African American Studies, Yale University (1995 - 1998)
  • Faculty Member, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Stanford University (1998 - Present)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • Co-director, Center for Social Psychological Answers to Real-World Questions (SPARQ), Stanford University

Professional Education

  • Ph.D., Harvard University (1993)
  • A.M., Harvard University (1990)
  • B.A., University of Cincinnati (1987)

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

My research is on race and inequality. I am especially interested in examining race and inequality in the criminal justice context. My most recent research focuses on how the association of African Americans with crime might matter at different points in the criminal justice system and how this association can affect us in surprising ways.

2023-24 Courses

Stanford Advisees

All Publications

  • Racial Disparities in Incarceration Increase Acceptance of Punitive Policies Psychological Science - A Journal of the Association for Psychological Science Hetey, R. C., Eberhardt, J. L. 2014
  • Race and the Fragility of the Legal Distinction between Juveniles and Adults PLOS ONE Rattan, A., Levine, C. S., Dweck, C. S., Eberhardt, J. L. 2012; 7 (5)


    Legal precedent establishes juvenile offenders as inherently less culpable than adult offenders and thus protects juveniles from the most severe of punishments. But how fragile might these protections be? In the present study, simply bringing to mind a Black (vs. White) juvenile offender led participants to view juveniles in general as significantly more similar to adults in their inherent culpability and to express more support for severe sentencing. Indeed, these differences in participants' perceptions of this foundational legal precedent distinguishing between juveniles and adults accounted for their greater support for severe punishment. These results highlight the fragility of protections for juveniles when race is in play. Furthermore, we suggest that this fragility may have broad implications for how juveniles are seen and treated in the criminal justice system.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0036680

    View details for Web of Science ID 000305335800013

    View details for PubMedID 22649496

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3359323

  • From Agents to Objects: Sexist Attitudes and Neural Responses to Sexualized Targets JOURNAL OF COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE Cikara, M., Eberhardt, J. L., Fiske, S. T. 2011; 23 (3): 540-551


    Agency attribution is a hallmark of mind perception; thus, diminished attributions of agency may disrupt social-cognition processes typically elicited by human targets. The current studies examine the effect of perceivers' sexist attitudes on associations of agency with, and neural responses to, images of sexualized and clothed men and women. In Study 1, male (but not female) participants with higher hostile sexism scores more quickly associated sexualized women with first-person action verbs ("handle") and clothed women with third-person action verbs ("handles") than the inverse, as compared to their less sexist peers. In Study 2, hostile sexism correlated negatively with activation of regions associated with mental state attribution-medial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate, temporal poles-but only when viewing sexualized women. Heterosexual men best recognized images of sexualized female bodies (but not faces), as compared with other targets' bodies; however, neither face nor body recognition was related to hostile sexism, suggesting that the fMRI findings are not explained by more or less attention to sexualized female targets. Diminished mental state attribution is not unique to targets that people prefer to avoid, as in dehumanization of stigmatized people. The current studies demonstrate that appetitive social targets may elicit a similar response depending on perceivers' attitudes toward them.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000285160700004

    View details for PubMedID 20350187

  • The role of social meaning in inattentional blindness: When the gorillas in our midst do not go unseen JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Rattan, A., Eberhardt, J. L. 2010; 46 (6): 1085-1088
  • Biological conceptions of race and the motivation to cross racial boundaries JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Williams, M. J., Eberhardt, J. L. 2008; 94 (6): 1033-1047


    The present studies demonstrate that conceiving of racial group membership as biologically determined increases acceptance of racial inequities (Studies 1 and 2) and cools interest in interacting with racial outgroup members (Studies 3-5). These effects were generally independent of racial prejudice. It is argued that when race is cast as a biological marker of individuals, people perceive racial outgroup members as unrelated to the self and therefore unworthy of attention and affiliation. Biological conceptions of race therefore provide justification for a racially inequitable status quo and for the continued social marginalization of historically disadvantaged groups.

    View details for DOI 10.1037/0022-3514.94.6.1033

    View details for Web of Science ID 000256108400008

    View details for PubMedID 18505316

  • Not yet human: Implicit knowledge, historical dehumanization, and contemporary consequences JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Goff, P. A., Eberhardt, J. L., Williams, M. J., Jackson, M. C. 2008; 94 (2): 292-306


    Historical representations explicitly depicting Blacks as apelike have largely disappeared in the United States, yet a mental association between Blacks and apes remains. Here, the authors demonstrate that U.S. citizens implicitly associate Blacks and apes. In a series of laboratory studies, the authors reveal how this association influences study participants' basic cognitive processes and significantly alters their judgments in criminal justice contexts. Specifically, this Black-ape association alters visual perception and attention, and it increases endorsement of violence against Black suspects. In an archival study of actual criminal cases, the authors show that news articles written about Blacks who are convicted of capital crimes are more likely to contain ape-relevant language than news articles written about White convicts. Moreover, those who are implicitly portrayed as more apelike in these articles are more likely to be executed by the state than those who are not. The authors argue that examining the subtle persistence of specific historical representations such as these may not only enhance contemporary research on dehumanization, stereotyping, and implicit processes but also highlight common forms of discrimination that previously have gone unrecognized.

    View details for DOI 10.1037/0022-3514.94.2.292

    View details for Web of Science ID 000252567300008

    View details for PubMedID 18211178

  • Looking Deathworthy - Perceived Stereotypicality of Black Defendants Predicts Capital-Sentencing Outcomes Readings in Social Psychology: General, Classic, and Contemporary Selections Eberhardt, J. L. edited by Lesko, W. A. Columbus, OH: Allyn & Bacon. 2008; 7
  • Looking Deathworthy - Perceived Stereotypicality of Black Defendants Predicts Capital-Sentencing Outcomes Readings in Social Psychology: The art and science of research Eberhardt, J. L. edited by Fein, S., Kassin, S. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. 2008; 4
  • Differential development of high-level visual cortex correlates with category-specific recognition memory NATURE NEUROSCIENCE Golarai, G., Ghahremani, D. G., Whitfield-Gabrieli, S., Reiss, A., Eberhardt, J. L., Gabrieli, J. D., Grill-Spector, K. 2007; 10 (4): 512-522


    High-level visual cortex in humans includes functionally defined regions that preferentially respond to objects, faces and places. It is unknown how these regions develop and whether their development relates to recognition memory. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine the development of several functionally defined regions including object (lateral occipital complex, LOC)-, face ('fusiform face area', FFA; superior temporal sulcus, STS)- and place ('parahippocampal place area', PPA)-selective cortices in children (ages 7-11), adolescents (12-16) and adults. Right FFA and left PPA volumes were substantially larger in adults than in children. This development occurred by expansion of FFA and PPA into surrounding cortex and was correlated with improved recognition memory for faces and places, respectively. In contrast, LOC and STS volumes and object-recognition memory remained constant across ages. Thus, the ventral stream undergoes a prolonged maturation that varies temporally across functional regions, is determined by brain region rather than stimulus category, and is correlated with the development of category-specific recognition memory.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nn1865

    View details for Web of Science ID 000245228600023

    View details for PubMedID 17351637

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3660101

  • Looking deathworthy - Perceived stereotypicality of black defendants predicts capital-sentencing outcomes PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE Eberhardt, J. L., Davies, P. G., Purdie-Vaughns, V. J., Johnson, S. L. 2006; 17 (5): 383-386


    Researchers previously have investigated the role of race in capital sentencing, and in particular, whether the race of the defendant or victim influences the likelihood of a death sentence. In the present study, we examined whether the likelihood of being sentenced to death is influenced by the degree to which a Black defendant is perceived to have a stereotypically Black appearance. Controlling for a wide array of factors, we found that in cases involving a White victim, the more stereotypically Black a defendant is perceived to be, the more likely that person is to be sentenced to death.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000237064900005

    View details for PubMedID 16683924

  • Imaging race AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGIST Eberhardt, J. L. 2005; 60 (2): 181-190


    Researchers have recently begun to use the tools of neuroscience to examine the social psychological responses associated with race. This article serves as a review of the developing literature in this area. It advances the argument that neuroscience studies of race have the potential to shape fundamental assumptions about race, and the interplay between social and biological processes more generally.

    View details for DOI 10.1037/0003-066X.60.2.181

    View details for Web of Science ID 000227289300004

    View details for PubMedID 15740450

  • Seeing black: Race, crime, and visual processing JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Eberhardt, J. L., GOFF, P. A., Purdie, V. J., Davies, P. G. 2004; 87 (6): 876-893


    Using police officers and undergraduates as participants, the authors investigated the influence of stereotypic associations on visual processing in 5 studies. Study 1 demonstrates that Black faces influence participants' ability to spontaneously detect degraded images of crime-relevant objects. Conversely, Studies 2-4 demonstrate that activating abstract concepts (i.e., crime and basketball) induces attentional biases toward Black male faces. Moreover, these processing biases may be related to the degree to which a social group member is physically representative of the social group (Studies 4-5). These studies, taken together, suggest that some associations between social groups and concepts are bidirectional and operate as visual tuning devices--producing shifts in perception and attention of a sort likely to influence decision making and behavior.

    View details for DOI 10.1037/0022-3514.87.6.876

    View details for Web of Science ID 000225442400010

    View details for PubMedID 15598112

  • Believing is seeing: The effects of racial labels and implicit beliefs on face perception PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN Eberhardt, J. L., Dasgupta, N., Banaszynski, T. L. 2003; 29 (3): 360-370


    Two studies tested whether racial category labels and lay beliefs about human traits have a combined effect on people's perception of, and memory for, racially ambiguous faces. Participants saw a morphed target face accompanied by a racial label (Black or White). Later, they were asked to identify the face from a set of two new morphed faces, one more Black and the other more White than the target. As predicted, entity theorists, who believe traits are immutable, perceived and remembered the target face as consistent with the racial label, whereas incremental theorists, who believe traits are malleable, perceived and remembered the face as inconsistent with the racial label. In Study 2, participants also drew the target face more consistently (entity theorists) or less consistently (incremental theorists) with the racial label. Results of both studies confirm that social variables can affect how physical features are seen and remembered.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/0146167202250215

    View details for Web of Science ID 000180951800006

    View details for PubMedID 15273013

  • Differential responses in the fusiform region to same-race and other-race faces NATURE NEUROSCIENCE Golby, A. J., Gabrieli, J. D., Chiao, J. Y., Eberhardt, J. L. 2001; 4 (8): 845-850


    Many studies have shown that people remember faces of their own race better than faces of other races. We investigated the neural substrates of same-race memory superiority using functional MRI (fMRI). European-American (EA) and African-American (AA) males underwent fMRI while they viewed photographs of AA males, EA males and objects under intentional encoding conditions. Recognition memory was superior for same-race versus other-race faces. Individually defined areas in the fusiform region that responded preferentially to faces had greater response to same-race versus other-race faces. Across both groups, memory differences between same-race and other-race faces correlated with activation in left fusiform cortex and right parahippocampal and hippocampal areas. These results suggest that differential activation in fusiform regions contributes to same-race memory superiority.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000170137300019

    View details for PubMedID 11477432