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Brenda Major

Brenda Major

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Brenda Major received her M.A from Miami University in 1975 and her Ph.D. in social psychology from Purdue University in 1978. From 1978 to 1995 she was a Professor in the Psychology Department at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where she served as the Head of the Social Psychology Program from 1992 to 1995. She joined the faculty at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1995, where she is currently a Professor in the departments of Psychology and Communication.

Dr. Major is the author of more than 100 articles and book chapters on coping, stigma, self-esteem, and intergroup relations. She also co-edited (with John Jost, Stanford University) the book, The Psychology of Legitimacy. A fellow of APA and APS, Dr. Major is President-elect of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology. She has been elected to the executive committees of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, has served as Associate Editor of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, and serves on the editorial boards of numerous professional journals. Professor Major includes among her professional honors being awarded the Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize in 1986 and 1988 (and Honorable Mention in 2002) from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, receiving the Distinguished Publication Award from the Association of Women in Psychology in 1985, and being named a California Distinguished Wellness Lecturer in 1997 for her research on coping with abortion.

Primary Interests:

  • Culture and Ethnicity
  • Health Psychology
  • Intergroup Relations
  • Political Psychology
  • Prejudice and Stereotyping
  • Self and Identity

Research Group or Laboratory:


Journal Articles:

  • Kaiser, C.R., Vick, S.B., & Major, B. (2006). Prejudice expectations moderate preconscious attention to social identity threatening cues. Psychological Science, 17, 332-338.
  • Major, B. (1994). From social inequality to personal entitlement: The role of social comparisons, legitimacy appraisals, and group membership. In M. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (Vol. 26, pp. 293-355). New York: Academic Press.
  • Major, B., Cozzarelli, C., Cooper, M. L., Zubek, J., Richards, C., Wilhite, M., & Gramzow, R. (2000). Psychological responses of women following first trimester abortion. Archives of General Psychiatry, 57, 777-784.
  • Major, B. & Gramzow, R. (1999). Abortion as stigma: Cognitive and emotional implications of concealment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 77, 735-746.
  • Major, B., Gramzow, R., McCoy, S., Levin, S., Schmader, T., & Sidanius, J. (2002). Attributions to discrimination: The role of group status and legitimizing ideology. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 82, 269-282. (This article received Honorable Mention for the 2002 Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize from SPSSI).
  • Major, B., McCoy, S.K., Kaiser, C.R., & Quinton, W. J. (2003). Prejudice and self-esteem: A transactional model. European Review of Social Psychology, Vol. 14.
  • Major, B., Quinton, W. J. & Schmader, T. (2003). Attributions to discrimination and self-esteem: Impact of group identification and situational ambiguity. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 39, 220-231.
  • Major, B., Quinton, W., & McCoy, S. (2002). Antecedents and consequences of attributions to discrimination: Theoretical and empirical advances. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.) Advances in Experimental Social Psychology. Vol 34, 251-329.
  • Major, B., Richards, M. C., Cooper, M. L., Cozzarelli, C., & Zubek, J. (1998). Personal resilience, cognitive appraisals, and coping: An integrative model of adjustment to abortion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 735-752.
  • Major, B., Spencer, S., Schmader, T., Wolfe, C., & Crocker, J. (1998). Coping with negative stereotypes about intellectual performance: The role of psychological disengagement. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 24, 34-50.
  • McCoy, S. K. & Major, B. (2003). Group identification moderates emotional responses to perceived prejudice. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 1005-1017.
  • Schmader, T., Major, B., Eccleston, C., & McCoy, S. (2001). Devaluing domains in response to threatening intergroup comparisons: Perceived legitimacy and the status-value asymmetry. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 736-753.
  • Schmader, T., Major, B., & Gramzow, R. (2001). Coping with ethnic stereotypes in the academic domain: Perceived injustice and psychological disengagement. Journal of Social Issues, 57, 93-112.

Other Publications:

  • Major, B. & O’Brien, L. (2005). The social psychology of stigma. In Fiske, S. T. (Ed.) Annual Review of Psychology. (Vol. 56). Chippewa Falls, WI: Annual Reviews.

Brenda Major
Department of Psychology
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, California 93106
United States

  • Phone: (805) 893-7238
  • Fax: (805) 893-4303

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