Nicole Stephens
Nicole Stephens

Associate Professor of Management & Organizations
Associate Professor of Psychology, Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences (Courtesy)

Print Overview

Nicole M. Stephens is an Associate Professor of Management and Organizations at Kellogg School of Management. She received her Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Stanford University and her B.A. from Williams College. As a social and cultural psychologist, her research explores the ways in which the social world systematically influences how people understand themselves and their actions. Her specific focus is on how social class, race, ethnicity, and gender shape people's everyday life experiences, as well as important life outcomes such as educational attainment and health.

One line of Professor Stephens's research examines how experiences in different social class environments affect the ways in which people understand the choices that they make in their daily lives. Another line of research investigates how first-generation college students, from diverse cultural backgrounds, adjust in response to the mainstream culture of higher education. Together her research illuminates how seemingly neutral assumptions about what it means to be a "good," "normal," or "educated" person reflect the culturally-specific perspectives of majority groups in society, and thereby contribute to social inequality. The underlying goal of this research is to develop more diverse and effective schools, workplaces, and communities.

Professor Stephens is a member of various interdisciplinary working groups that strive to achieve this goal: The Bias Interrupters Working Group, which seeks to reduce bias against women and racial minorities in the workplace; the Harvard Higher Education Leaders Forum, which seeks to solve problems in higher education through evidence-based solutions; and The Mindset Scholars Network, which seeks to expand educational opportunity through the science of psychological intervention.

Professor Stephens's work is published in leading academic journals such as the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and Psychological Science and has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times Magazine, Los Angeles Times, NBC News, and The Huffington Post.

Print Vita
PhD, 2010, Social Psychology, Stanford University
MA, 2007, Social Psychology, Stanford University
BA, 2002, Psychology, Williams College, magna cum laude

Academic Positions
Associate Professor, Management and Organizations, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, 2013-present
Associate Professor of Psychology (courtesy), Northwestern University, 2010-present
Assistant Professor of Management and Organizations, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, 2010-2013

Other Professional Experience
Marketing Consultant, Widgetbox, Inc., 2007-2007
Textbook Consultant, Social Psychology, 2006-2006
Research Assistant, San Francisco State University, 2003-2003
Research Analyst, Marketing and Planning Systems, 2003-2004
Fulbright Scholar, Universidad de Chile, 2002-2003
Research Assistant, Williams College, 2002-2002
Research Associate, The Parthenon Group, 2001-2001
Research Assistant, Williams College, 2000-2000

Honors and Awards
Israel Organizational Behavior Conference Best Paper Award, Israel Organizational Behavior Conference
Louise Kidder Early Career Award, The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
Otto Klineberg Intercultural and International Relations Award, The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
Stanley Reiter Best Paper Award, Kellogg School of Management

Print Research
Research Interests
The sociocultural patterning of mind and behavior; The sources of social class, racial/ethnic, and gender disparities in higher education and the workplace; Developing interventions to leverage the benefits of diversity in organizations.

Stephens, Nicole and Sarah S.M. Townsend. 2015. The norms that drive behavior: Implications for Cultural Mismatch Theory.. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. 46: 1304-1306.
Stephens, Nicole, MarYam G. Hamedani, Mesmin Destin, Vida Manzo and Sarah S.M. Townsend. 2015. A difference-education intervention equips first-generation students to thrive in the face of stressful college situations.. Psychological Science. 26(10): 1556-1566.
Stephens, Nicole, Tiffany Brannon, Hazel Rose Markus and Jessica E. Nelson. 2015. Feeling at home in college: Fortifying school-relevant selves to reduce social class disparities in higher education. Social Issues and Policy Review. 9(1): 1-24.
Stephens, Nicole, Jessica Cameron and Sarah Townsend. 2014. Lower social class does not (always) mean greater interdependence: Women in poverty have fewer social resources than working-class women. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. 45(7): 1060-1072.
Stephens, Nicole, MarYam G. Hamedani and Mesmin Destin. 2014. Closing the social-class achievement gap: A difference-education intervention improves first-generation students' academic performance and all students' college transition. Psychological Science. 25(4): 943-953.
Stephens, Nicole, Hazel Rose Markus and Taylor L Phillips. 2014. Social class culture cycles: How three gateway contexts shape selves and fuel inequality. Annual Review of Psychology. 65: 611-634.
Stephens, Nicole and Sarah Townsend. 2013. How can incentives improve the success of disadvantaged college students? Insights from the Social Sciences. Policy brief for a project sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation at the George Washington University.
Stephens, Nicole and Sarah Townsend. 2013. Rank is not enough: Why we need a sociocultural perspective to understand social class. Psychological Inquiry. 24(2): 126-130.
Stephens, Nicole, Stephanie Fryberg, Hazel Rose Markus and MarYam G. Hamedani. 2013. Who explains Hurricane Katrina and the Chilean earthquake as an act of God? The experience of extreme hardship predicts religious meaning-making. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. 44(4): 607-619.
Stephens, Nicole, Hazel Rose Markus and Stephanie Fryberg. 2012. Social class disparities in health and education: Reducing inequality by applying a sociocultural self model of behavior. Psychological Review. 119(4): 723-744.
Kraus, Michael W. and Nicole Stephens. 2012. A road map for an emerging psychology of social class. Social and Personality Psychology Compass. 6(9): 642-656.
Stephens, Nicole, Sarah S.M. Townsend and Hazel Rose Markus. 2012. A cultural mismatch: Independent cultural norms produce greater increases in cortisol and more negative emotions among first-generation college students. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 48(6): 1389-1393.
Stephens, Nicole, Stephanie Fryberg, Hazel Rose Markus, Camille Johnson and Rebecca Covarrubias. 2012. Unseen disadvantage: How American universities' focus on independence undermines the academic performance of first-generation college students. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 102(6): 1178-1197.
Stephens, Nicole and CynthiaSteel Levine. 2011. Opting out or denying discrimination? How the framework of free choice in American society influences perceptions of gender inequality. Psychological Science. 22(10): 1231-1236.
Fryberg, Stephanie, Nicole Stephens, Rebecca Covarrubias, Hazel Rose Markus, Erin D Carter, Giselle Laiduc and Ana Salido. 2012. How the media frames the immigration debate: The critical role of location and politics. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy. 12(1): 96-112.
Savani, Krishna, Nicole Stephens and Hazel Rose Markus. 2011. The unanticipated interpersonal and societal consequences of choice: Victim-blaming and reduced support for the public good. Psychological Science. 22(6): 795-802.
Stephens, Nicole, Stephanie Fryberg and Hazel Rose Markus. 2011. When choice does not equal freedom: A sociocultural analysis of agency in working-class American contexts. Social and Personality Psychology Science. 2(1): 33-41.
Fryberg, Stephanie and Nicole Stephens. 2010. When the world is colorblind, American Indians are invisible. Psychological Inquiry. 21(2): 115-119.
Shepherd, Hana and Nicole Stephens. 2010. Using culture to explain behavior: An integrated cultural approach. Social Psychology Quarterly. 73(4): 353-354.
Stephens, Nicole, MarYam G. Hamedani, Hazel Rose Markus, Hilary B. Bergsieker and Liyam Eloul. 2009. Why did they "choose" to stay? Perspectives of Hurricane Katrina observers and survivors. Psychological Science. 20(7): 878-886.
Stephens, Nicole, Hazel Rose Markus and Sarah S.M. Townsend. 2007. Choice as an act of meaning: The case of social class. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 93(5): 814-830.
Book Chapters
Stephens, Nicole and Sarah S.M. Townsend. 2015. "How can financial incentives improve the success of disadvantaged college students? Insights from the social sciences.." In Decision making for student success: Behavioral insights to improve college access and persistence., edited by B. Castleman, S. Schwartz, & S. Baum, New York: Routledge.
Stephens, Nicole, Stephanie Fryberg and Hazel Rose Markus. 2012. "It's your choice: How the middle-class model of independence disadvantages working-class Americans." In Facing Social Class: How Societal Rank Influences Interaction, edited by S.T. Fiske & H. R. Markus, 87-106. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Print Teaching
Teaching Interests
Full-Time / Evening & Weekend MBA
Negotiations (MORS-470-0)
This course is designed to provide both the fundamentals of negotiation strategy, as well as a broad application of these fundamentals to advanced topics. The goal is to improve students' skills in all phases of negotiation: understanding prescriptive and descriptive negotiation theory as it applies to dyadic and multiparty negotiations, to buyer-seller transactions and the resolution of disputes, to the development of negotiation strategy and to the management of integrative and distributive aspects of the negotiation process. The course is based on a series of simulated negotiations in a variety of contexts including one-on-one, multi-party, cross-cultural, third-party and team negotiations. There is an attendance policy.

Negotiations Fundamentals (MORS-472-5)
This course is designed to provide the fundamentals of negotiation strategy and to improve students' skills in all phases of negotiation. The course provides an understanding of prescriptive and descriptive negotiation theory as it applies to two party negotiations, team negotiations, resolution of disputes, agents and ethics, and management of integrative and distributive aspects of the negotiation process. The course is based on a series of simulated negotiations in a variety of contexts. Attendance at every class meeting is mandatory.

The Individual and the Organization (MORS-524-1)
Individual behavior in organizational settings. Topics include recent theory and research on social cognition, decision making, negotiation, groups, norms, fairness, and equity theory.