Cynthia Levine
2011-12 Graduate Dissertation Fellow, Department of Psychology

"Who can improve? How a target's race dictates perceptions of potential for growth"

Cynthia Levine is a doctoral candidate in the Psychology Department at Stanford University.  Broadly, she is interested in how race and gender affect people’s perceptions of others, and her dissertation focuses on an individual’s race influences others’ perceptions of that individual’s potential to grow, learn, and develop over time. 

Cynthia’s dissertation, “Who can improve? How a target’s race dictates perceptions of potential for growth,” examines how African Americans in the U.S. are seen as lacking the potential to grow or improve over time. For example, do people see African Americans who have committed a crime as having less potential for rehabilitation in the future than equivalent white individuals? Similarly, do they see African American students as lacking the potential to improve academically compared to high performing white students? In addition, the dissertation explores the implications of this view of African Americans, including its consequences for the policies that people are willing to endorse (e.g., policies that would restrict the rights of people who had committed crimes or policies that would support their rehabilitation after release from prison).