Mary Murphy

Mary Murphy

Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences


  • 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

Research interests

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

Signaling threat: How situational cues affect women in math, science, and engineering settings (2007)
Mary C Murphy, Claude M Steele and James J Gross
Psychological science, 18 (10), 879-885

A culture of genius: How an organization’s lay theory shapes people’s cognition, affect, and behavior (2010)
Mary C Murphy and Carol S Dweck
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36 (3), 283-296

Mindsets shape consumer behavior (2016)
Mary C Murphy and Carol S Dweck
Journal of Consumer Psychology, 26 (1), 127-136

Experience-sampling research methods and their potential for education research (2015)
Sabrina Zirkel, Julie A Garcia and Mary C Murphy
Educational Researcher, 44 (1), 16-Jul

The role of situational cues in signaling and maintaining stereotype threat (2012)
Mary C Murphy and Valerie Jones Taylor
Oxford University Press.

Identity threat at work: How social identity threat and situational cues contribute to racial and ethnic disparities in the workplace (2014)
Katherine TU Emerson and Mary C Murphy
Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 20 (4), 508

Modern prejudice: Subtle, but unconscious? The role of Bias Awareness in Whites' perceptions of personal and others' biases (2015)
Sylvia P Perry, Mary C Murphy and John F Dovidio
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 61 64-78

A company I can trust? Organizational lay theories moderate stereotype threat for women (2015)
Katherine TU Emerson and Mary C Murphy
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41 (2), 295-307

Stereotype threat in organizations: Implications for equity and performance (2015)
Gregory M Walton, Mary C Murphy and Ann Marie Ryan
Annual Reviews. 2 (1), 523-550

Race and belonging in school: How anticipated and experienced belonging affect choice, persistence, and performance (2015)
MARY C Murphy and Sabrina Zirkel
Teachers College Record, 117 (12), Jan-40

Prejudice concerns and race-based attentional bias: New evidence from eyetracking (2012)
Meghan G Bean, Daniel G Slaten, William S Horton, Mary C Murphy, Andrew R Todd and Jennifer A Richeson
Social Psychological and Personality Science, 3 (6), 722-729

When your friends matter: The effect of White students' racial friendship networks on meta-perceptions and perceived identity contingencies (2010)
Daryl A Wout, Mary C Murphy and Claude M Steele
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46 (6), 1035-1041

Leveraging motivational mindsets to foster positive interracial interactions (2011)
Mary C Murphy, Jennifer A Richeson and Daniel C Molden
Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 5 (2), 118-131

Group‐based differences in perceptions of racism: What counts, to whom, and why? (2015)
Evelyn R Carter and Mary C Murphy
Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 9 (6), 269-280

Cognitive costs of contemporary prejudice (2013)
Mary C Murphy, Jennifer A Richeson, J Nicole Shelton, Michelle L Rheinschmidt and Hilary B Bergsieker
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 16 (5), 560-571