UC Santa Cruz psychologist shares prize for work on intergroup relations

For the second time in his career, social psychologist Thomas Pettigrew has received the prestigious Gordon Allport Award in recognition of his work on intergroup relations. He shares the award with his former graduate student, Linda R. Tropp, now an assistant professor of psychology at Boston College.

The recipients of the 2002-03 Gordon Allport Award were announced by the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI), a nonprofit organization of psychologists and social scientists that supports research on the psychological aspects of social issues. Pettigrew and Tropp received the prize for their paper, "A Meta-analytic Test and Reformulation of Intergroup Contact Theory," which shows the role intergroup contact plays in reducing prejudice. The annual award, which recognizes the "best paper or article on intergroup relations," carries a $1,000 cash prize. Pettigrew also received the Gordon Allport Award in 1988.

Pettigrew, a research professor of social psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is a pathbreaking social psychologist who is widely credited with demonstrating that racism is largely a matter of conformity to social norms and as such can be changed. He has studied intergroup relations for four decades. Last fall, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Society for Experimental Social Psychology.

Pettigrew has studied black-white racism in the United States, and he has studied intergroup relations in South Africa, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Germany. He studied with Gordon Allport, a founder and past president of SPSSI, at Harvard University, where Pettigrew earned his Ph.D. He taught at the University of North Carolina and Harvard before coming to UCSC in 1979. Pettigrew retired from teaching in 1994 yet remains an active researcher and was recently appointed a senior fellow at Stanford University's Research Institute for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity.

Tropp earned her Ph.D. in psychology from UC Santa Cruz in 2000.