Claude M. Steele is the former I. James Quillen Dean for the School of Education at Stanford University and currently serves as the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost of UC Berkeley. Previously, he served as the 21st Provost of Columbia University, as well as a professor of psychology.
He was educated at Hiram College and at Ohio State University, where he received his PhD in psychology in 1971. He has received honorary degrees from the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, Yale University, Princeton University, and from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Before joining Columbia University, he was a faculty member at Stanford University, holding appointments as the Lucie Stern Professor in the Social Sciences, as director of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, and as director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He is recognized as a leader in the field of social psychology and for his commitment to the systematic application of social science to problems of major societal significance.
His research focuses on the psychological experience of the individual and, particularly, on the experience of threats to the self and the consequences of those threats. His early work considered the self-image threat, self-affirmation and its role in self-regulation, the academic under-achievement of minority students, and the role of alcohol and drug use in self-regulation processes and social behavior. While at Stanford University, he further developed the theory of stereotype threat, designating a common process through which people from different groups, being threatened by different stereotypes, can have quite different experiences in the same situation. The theory has also been used to understand group differences in performance ranging from the intellectual to the athletic.
He has published articles in numerous scholarly journals, including the American Psychologist, the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. His recent book, Whistling Vivaldi: And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do, was published in 2010.
He has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Education, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He is a member of the Board of the Social Science Research Council and of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Board of Directors. He has received numerous fellowships and awards. He was the recipient of the Dean's Teaching Award from Stanford University. The American Psychological Association has bestowed on him the Senior Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest and the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award (1998). The American Psychological Society presented him with the William James Fellow Award for Distinguished Scientific Career Contribution (2000). The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues awarded him the Gordon Allport Prize in Social Psychology (1997) and the Kurt Lewin Memorial Award (1998). He received the Donald Campbell Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (2001).