Kurt Hugenberg

Kurt Hugenberg

Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences


  • Ph.D., Social Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, 2003
  • M.A., Social Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, 2001
  • B.A., Psychology and German, Transylvania University, Lexington, KY, 1998

Research interests

Research in our lab focuses on how perceivers’ stereotypes, prejudices, and prejudice-related motives influence how we categorize, perceive, and understand others. Much of the work that we do has a particular focus on how perceptions of others’ faces and bodies interface with beliefs about social groups.

In one ongoing line of research, we have been investigating how we use cues in others faces and bodies to make inferences about their minds. Put simply, how do we decide whether someone is mentally sophisticated or simplistic? Perhaps surprisingly, perceivers often use quick judgments about their faces and bodies to make these judgments. For example, we have found that how we perceive others’ faces is directly linked to how we perceive their minds. It appears that triggering basic face processing mechanisms we use to differentiate human faces appear to trigger inferences that people have minds behind their eyes. Further, perceivers often unwittingly use features of others faces and bodies themselves, such as their facial structure (e.g., facial width-to-height ratio), their eye gaze, and their body and bodily movements to make inferences about whether others have sophisticated humanlike minds, or not.

In a second line of ongoing research, we have investigated how social categories, and their attendant stereotypes, prejudices, and motives, can bias or distort how we read others’ non-verbal behavior. In some of our early work, we have investigated how race and prejudice can distort how Whites read anger on the faces of Blacks, with especially highly prejudiced Whites essentially over-perceiving anger in otherwise neutrally expressive Black faces. More recently, we have extended this work to the perceptions of Blacks’ bodies as well, finding that White perceivers tend to over-perceive the size of Black males’ bodies, due to the race-related anxiety. Finally, we’ve also been investigating how social group memberships influence truth-versus-lie judgments in a lie detection contacts. We have recently found that target race and gender appear to distort decision thresholds for truth and lie judgments, and that targets’ socio-economic status biases judgments about others’ pain thresholds in a conceptually congruent manner.

Representative publications

The categorization-individuation model: An integrative account of the other-race recognition deficit (2010)
Kurt Hugenberg, Steven G Young, Michael J Bernstein and Donald F Sacco
Psychological review, 117 (4), 1168

The cross-category effect: Mere social categorization is sufficient to elicit an own-group bias in face recognition (2007)
Michael J Bernstein, Steven G Young and Kurt Hugenberg
Psychological Science, 18 (8), 706-712

Facing prejudice: Implicit prejudice and the perception of facial threat (2003)
Kurt Hugenberg and Galen V Bodenhausen
Psychological Science, 14 (6), 640-643

Ambiguity in social categorization: The role of prejudice and facial affect in race categorization (2004)
Kurt Hugenberg and Galen V Bodenhausen
Psychological Science, 15 (5), 342-345

Separating multiple processes in implicit social cognition: the quad model of implicit task performance (2005)
Frederica R Conrey, Jeffrey W Sherman, Bertram Gawronski, Kurt Hugenberg and Carla J Groom
Journal of personality and social psychology, 89 (4), 469

The self-regulation of automatic associations and behavioral impulses (2008)
Jeffrey W Sherman, Bertram Gawronski, Karen Gonsalkorale, Kurt Hugenberg, Thomas J Allen and Carla J Groom
Psychological review, 115 (2), 314

Categorization and individuation in the cross-race recognition deficit: Toward a solution to an insidious problem (2007)
Kurt Hugenberg, Jennifer Miller and Heather M Claypool
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43 (2), 334-340

Social surrogacy: How favored television programs provide the experience of belonging (2009)
Jaye L Derrick, Shira Gabriel and Kurt Hugenberg
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45 (2), 352-362

Eye gaze as relational evaluation: Averted eye gaze leads to feelings of ostracism and relational devaluation (2010)
James H Wirth, Donald F Sacco, Kurt Hugenberg and Kipling D Williams
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36 (7), 869-882

Class, race, and the face: Social context modulates the cross-race effect in face recognition (2008)
Edwin R Shriver, Steven G Young, Kurt Hugenberg, Michael J Bernstein and Jason R Lanter
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34 (2), 260-274

Implicit and explicit attitudes respond differently to increasing amounts of counterattitudinal information (2007)
Robert J Rydell, Allen R McConnell, Laura M Strain, Heather M Claypool and Kurt Hugenberg
European Journal of Social Psychology, 37 (5), 867-878

Perception and motivation in face recognition: A critical review of theories of the cross-race effect (2012)
Steven G Young, Kurt Hugenberg, Michael J Bernstein and Donald F Sacco
Personality and Social Psychology Review, 16 (2), 116-142

Social categorization and the perception of facial affect: target race moderates the response latency advantage for happy faces (2005)
Kurt Hugenberg
Emotion, 5 (3), 267

The reappropriation of stigmatizing labels: Implications for social identity (2003)
Adam D Galinsky, Kurt Hugenberg, Carla Groom and Galen V Bodenhausen
Emerald Group Publishing Limited. 221-256

Social categorization and stereotyping: How social categorization biases person perception and face memory (2008)
Kurt Hugenberg and Donald F Sacco
Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2 (2), 1052-1072