Skip to content Skip to navigation

Photo of Stanford GSE Faculty

Cohen, Geoffrey

Geoffrey Cohen
Geoffrey Cohen
Academic Title 
Other Titles 

James G. March Professor of Organizational Studies in Education and Business

Professor, Department of Psychology

Professor of Organizational Behavior (by courtesy), Stanford Graduate School of Business

Contact Information
Program Affiliations 
Research Interests 
Access and Equity
Achievement and Motivation
Achievement Tests
Adolescent Development
Cognitive Psychology
Design Experiments
Educational Equity
Equity and Poverty
Gender Studies
High-stakes Testing
Motivation to Learn
Research Methods
Social Psychology
Women in Science

Much of my research examines processes related to identity maintenance and their implications for social problems. One primary aim of my research is the development of theory-driven, rigorously tested intervention strategies that further our understanding of the processes underpinning social problems and that offer solutions to alleviate them. Two key questions lie at the core of my research: “Given that a problem exists, what are its underlying processes?” And, “Once identified, how can these processes be overcome?” One reason for this interest in intervention is my belief that a useful way to understand psychological processes and social systems is to try to change them. We also are interested in how and when seemingly brief interventions, attuned to underlying psychological processes, produce large and long-lasting psychological and behavioral change.

The methods that my lab uses include laboratory experiments, longitudinal studies, content analyses, and randomized field experiments. One specific area of research addresses the effects of group identity on achievement, with a focus on under-performance and racial and gender achievement gaps. Additional research programs address hiring discrimination, the psychology of closed-mindedness and inter-group conflict, and psychological processes underlying anti-social and health-risk behavior.

  • BA, Psychology, Cornell University.
  • PH.D., Psychology, Stanford University.
  • Social Psychology and Social Change
  • Pro-seminar on Research and Practice in Education (Educ 393)

Dweck, C.S., Walton, G.M., & Cohen, G.L.  (2014).  Academic Tenacity: Mindsets and Skills That Promote Long-Term Learning.  Paper prepared for the Gates Foundation by Carol S. Dweck, Gregory M. Walton, & Geoffrey L. Cohen with the valuable assistance of David Paunesku and David Yeager.

Cohen, G.L. & Garcia, J.  (2014).  Educational Theory, Practice, and Policy and the Wisdom of Social PsychologyPolicy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences 1(1): 13-20.

Cohen, G.L. & Sherman, D. K.  (2014).  The Psychology of Change: Self-Affirmation and Social Psychological InterventionAnnual Review of Psychology 65:333-71.

Yeager, D. S., Purdie-Vaughns, V., Garcia, J., Apfel, N., Brzustoski, P., Master, A., Hessert, W. T., Williams, M. E., & Cohen, G. L. (2013, August 12). Breaking the Cycle of Mistrust: Wise Interventions to Provide Critical Feedback Across the Racial Divide. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0033906

Havranek, E., Hanratty, R., Channing, T., Dickinson, L., Steiner, J., Cohen, G., & Blair, I. (in press). The Effect of Values Affirmation on Race-Discordant Patient-Provider Communication. Archives of Internal Medicine.

Cook, J. E., Purdie-Vaughns, V., Garcia, J., & Cohen, G. L. (2012). Chronic threat and contingent belonging: Protective benefits of values affirmation on identity development. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102(3), 479-496.

Logel, C., & Cohen, G.L. (2012). The role of the self in physical health: Testing the effect of a values affirmation intervention on weight loss. Psychological Science

Cohen, G. L., Purdie-Vaughns, V., & Garcia,J. (in press). An identity threat perspective on intervention. In M. Inzlicht and T. Schmader(Eds.), Stereotype threat: Theory, Process, and Application. New York: Oxford University Press.

Cohen, G. L.(2012). Identity, ideology, and bias. J. Hanson (Ed.), Ideology, psychology, and law.

Garcia, J., & Cohen, G. L. (in press). A social-psychological approach to educational intervention. In E. Shafir (Ed.), Behavioral foundations of policy.

Walton,G., & Cohen, G. L. (2011). A brief social-belonging intervention improves academic and health outcomes of minority students. Science,331, 1147-1151.

Cohen, G. L. (2011). Social psychology and social change. Science, 334, 178-179.

Cohen, G. L., Garcia, J., Purdie-Vaugns, V., Apfel, N., & Brzustoski, P. (2009). Recursive processes in self-affirmation: Intervening to close the minority achievement gap. Science, 324, 400-403.

Cohen, G.L., Garcia, J. (2008). Identity, belonging, and achievement: A model, interventions, implications. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 17(6), 365-369.

Cohen, G. L.., Sherman, D. K., Bastardi, A., Hsu, L., McGoey, M., & Ross, L. (2007). Bridging the partisan divide: Salf-affirmation reduces ideological closed-mindedness and inflexibility in negotiation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 415-430.

Cohen, G. L., & Prinstein, M. J. (2006). Peer contagion of aggression and health-risk behavior among adolescent males: An experimental investigation of effects on public conduct and private attitudes. Child Development, 77, 967-983.

Sherman, D. K., & Cohen, G. L. (2006). The psychology of self-defense: Self-affirmation theory. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (Vol. 38, pp. 183-242). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Cohen, G. L. & Garcia, J. (2005). "I am us": Negative stereotypes as collective threats. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 89, 566-582.

Uhlmann, E., & Cohen, G. L. (2005). Constructed criteria: Redefining merit to justify discrimination. Psychological Science, 16, 474-480.

Cohen, G.L. (2003). Party over policy: The dominating impact of group influence on political beliefs. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 85(5), 808-822.

Walton, G. M., & Cohen, G. L. (2003). Stereotype lift. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 39, 456-467.

Cohen, G. L., & Steele, C. M. (2002). A barrier of mistrust: How negative stereotypes affect cross-race mentoring. In J. Aronson (Ed.), Improving academic achievement: Impact of psychological factors on education (pp. 303-328). San Diego: Academic Press.

Cohen, G. L., Aronson, J., & Steele, C. M. (2000). When beliefs yield to evidence: Reducing biased evaluation by affirming the self. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 1151-1164.

Cohen, G. L., Steele, C. M., & Ross, L. D. (1999). The mentor's dilemma: Providing critical feedback across the racial divide. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 25, 1302-1318.

Thomaes, S., Bushman, B. J., Orobio de Castro, B., Cohen, G. L. (2009). Reducing narcissistic aggression by buttressing self-esteem: An experimental field study. Psychological Science, 20, 1536-1542.