Susan Opotow (Subprogram Head)









PhD, Social and Organizational Psychology, Columbia University

My research has produced a body of work on moral exclusion, defined as seeing others as outside one’s scope of justice. This scholarship grows out of social psychological research on justice (e.g., morals, values, obligations, and rights) and social categorization (e.g., stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination). I have argued that when marginalized group are viewed as outside the scope of justice, the laws, norms, and values that ordinarily govern social relations and protect those within the scope of justice do not apply. Instead, they can be viewed as eligible targets of exploitation and violence (Opotow, 1990).

My scholarship defined moral exclusion empirically and utilized experimental, qualitative, and archival methods to examine antecedents, processes, and outcomes of moral exclusion in ordinary societal conflicts such as those that concern environmental degradation and conservation, as well as extraordinary and violent conflictual situations such as deadly wars.

In recent years my work has taken an historical turn to understand how people in the present understand moral exclusion in their past. Utilizing historical, archival, and visual data, I study transitions from exclusionary to inclusionary times and vice versa to examine how influential cultural institutions speak to complex socio-political histories characterized by injustice.

I am a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, Editor of Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, a member of the Graduate Center Andrew W. Mellon Seminar on Images and Information, area head of the PhD Program in Critical Social/Personality Psychology, and former president of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (2009).


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 Supported by the CUNY Doctoral Students Council.