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Hazel Markus is a prominent social psychologist. In 1975, she received her PhD from the University of Michigan, and later became one of the university’s faculty members. During her time at the University of Michigan, she was a research scientist at the Institute for Social Research. Her research interests include culture, ethnicity, emotion, gender, motivation and goal setting, to name a few.

Markus' most significant contribution to social psychology was the introduction of the concept of the "self-schema" (Markus, 1977). She described the self-schema as a cognitive representation of the self that is used to organize knowledge about the self and guide processing of self-relevant information. In Study 1 of Markus (1977), participants completed a reaction time task, where they were presented with personality traits and asked to hit a button labeled "Me" if the trait was self-descriptive and another button labeled "Not Me" if the trait was not self-descriptive. When participants classified a trait that they had previously said described themselves, they were faster to categorize the trait with the "Me" button than participants who had previously said the trait was only moderately descriptive. The faster response time of people who felt the trait was self-descriptive reflects an association of that trait with their self-schema. Self-schema and the self-concept remain among the most researched concepts in social psychology today.

Markus is a pioneering figure in cultural psychology, a field which explores how cultural contexts both shape and reflect individuals' emotions, cognitions, motivations, and other psychological processes (Kim & Markus, 1999). Therefore, she is not primarily concerned with the evolutionary perspective on culture, which looks more at how human culture has evolved with respect to the human EEA (environment of evolutionary adaptation).

After her time at the University of Michigan, Markus moved to Stanford University in 1994, and can currently be found on the Stanford campus. As co-director of the Stanford Research Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Dr. Markus continues her research on the influence of culture on the self. Other leadership roles Markus has attained include her former presidency of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and service on numerous editorial boards. Dr. Markus has contributed as an author to various textbooks including the 7th edition of the textbook, Social Psychology. Also, she is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In addition, Markus has earned the prestigious Donald T. Campbell award for her numerous contributions to the Social Psychology field, and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science. She was married to social psychologist Robert Zajonc.


  • [1] Kim, H., & Markus, H. R. (1999). Deviance or uniqueness, harmony or conformity? A cultural analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77(4), 785-800.
  • [2] Markus, H. R. (1977). Self-schemata and processing information about the self. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 63 – 78.

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