photo of Kate Turetsky

Kate Turetsky

I am an Assistant Professor of Psychology and director of the Group Dynamics Lab at Barnard College, Columbia University. I study group dynamics, intergroup relations, stress, stigma, and inequality. I focus in particular on examining these topics through theory-driven interventions to understand and address social problems, social network analysis, and field experiments. I received my BA in Psychology and Art from Amherst College and my PhD in Psychology from Columbia University. I conducted postdoctoral research on educational inequality at Princeton University before joining the faculty at Barnard.

My Research

My research projects and interests tend to cluster into a few different themes:

Social networks

In this research, I use social network analysis—a set of theories and tools for quantifying the system of interpersonal relationships in which individuals are embedded—to investigate how individuals’ social relationships interact with their psychology and identity. I examine a range of questions, such as: How do social ties shift over time in response to stress, psychological threat, and stress-reducing psychological interventions? How do the structure and composition of individuals’ networks impact their attitudes, beliefs, and behavior, and vice versa? How do social networks organize by group membership, and how can we successfully break down barriers to cross-group friendship?

Theory-driven intervention

Much of my work is driven by the goal of identifying, understanding, and addressing social problems. Through careful study of the social psychological mechanisms behind problems such as high dropout rates in the sciences and undertreatment of mental health issues, I have advanced theory-based interventions that insulate the self from psychological threat, reduce stigma of help-seeking, and build shared identity under stress. While not a panacea, these interventions are brief, cost-effective, and scalable, and can have long-lasting effects when timed well. Moreover, attempting to change behavior and attitudes—particularly in the field—sheds light on ongoing psychological processes and the real-world robustness of theory.

Divergent social realities

In this line of work, I examine social factors contributing to growing ideological polarization, particularly around issues related to identity. How does our social environment—e.g., who our friends are, what articles we see on our social media pages—shape our base set of information and knowledge (what we think are facts)? In particular, I am studying: (1) How do one’s social relationships with Muslims influence attitudes toward members of this religious group and judgment of Muslim-relevant political policies? (2) How do the language and images used by different media sources in coverage of racially charged incidents impact consumers’ interpretation of the events and the state of racial equality in America?


Download my curriculum vitae here. Copies of publications are included below for educational purposes only.

Manuscripts In Preparation and Under Review

Park, Y.†, Turetsky, K. M., Duckworth, A. L., & Tsukayama, E. (under review). Open-mindedness predicts racial, political, and socioeconomic diversity of real-world social networks. [†student mentee]

Turetsky, K. M., Shelton, J. N., Starck, J. G., & Sinclair, S. (in prep). Teachers' explicit racial bias predicts lower grades and worse psychosocial outcomes for Black adolecents.


Shelton, J. N., Turetsky, K. M., Park, Y., & Eikenburg, L. (in press). Diverse friendships: Formation, maintenance, and benefits. In M. Hojjat and A. Moyer (Eds.), Modern relationships: The evolution of romance, friendship, and family. Oxford University Press.

Park, H. J., Turetsky, K. M., Dahl, J. L., Pasek, M. H., Germano, A. L., Harper, J. O., Purdie-Greenaway, V., Cohen, G. L., & Cook, J. E. (2023). Investigating cortisol in a STEM classroom: The association between cortisol and academic performance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. | pdf

Shelton, J. N., Turetsky, K. M., & Park, Y. (2023). Responsiveness in interracial interactions. Current Opinion in Psychology, 50. | pdf

Turetsky, K. M., Curley, J. P., Carter, A. B., & Purdie-Greenaway, V. (2023). Explaining the gender gap in negotiations: Social network ties outweigh internal barriers. Journal of Social Issues, 79(1), 50-78. | pdf | osf

Turetsky, K. M., Sinclair, S., Starck, J. G., & Shelton, J. N. (2021). Beyond students: How teacher psychology shapes educational inequality. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 25(8), 697-709. | pdf

Turetsky, K. M., Purdie-Greenaway, V., Cook, J. E., Curley, J. P., and Cohen, G. L. (2020). A psychological intervention strengthens students' social networks and promotes persistence in STEM. Science Advances, 6(45), 1-10. | pdf | osf

Riddle, T. A., Turetsky, K. M., Bottesini, J. G.†, & Leach, C. W. (2020). “What’s going on” in Ferguson? Online news frames of protest at the police killing of Michael Brown. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 23(6), 882-901. [†undergraduate mentee] | pdf | osf

Purdie-Greenaway, V.*, and Turetsky, K. M.* (2020). Socioecological diversity and inclusion: A framework for advancing diversity science. Current Opinion in Psychology, 32, 171-176. [*first authorship shared] | pdf

Turetsky, K. M., and Sanderson, C. A. (2018). Comparing educational interventions: Correcting misperceived norms improves college students’ mental health attitudes. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 48, 46-55. | pdf

Turetsky, K. M., and Riddle, T. A. (2018). Porous chambers, echoes of valence and stereotypes: A network analysis of online news coverage interconnectedness following a nationally polarizing race-related event. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 9, 163-175. | pdf | osf

Lee, M. M.†, Turetsky, K. M., and Spicer, J. (2017). Cognitive, social, physiological, and neural mechanisms underlying self-affirmation: An integrative review. Yale Review of Undergraduate Research in Psychology. [†undergraduate mentee] | pdf

Carbado, D. W., Turetsky, K. M., and Purdie-Vaughns, V. (2016). Privileged or mismatched: The lose-lose position of African Americans in the affirmative action debate. UCLA Law Review Discourse, 64, 174-229. | pdf

Turetsky, K. and Purdie-Vaughns, V. (2015). What Science Has to Say About Affirmative Action. Scientific American. | link



Below are undergraduate courses I teach or have taught at Barnard College and Columbia University. Sample syllabi and students' (unedited) comments in end-of-semester course evaluations are linked to help students thinking about whether to take and how to prepare for my courses.

Lab Overview

In the Group Dynamics Lab, we seek to understand the social dynamics of equity, wellbeing, and success. We examine social psychological processes within and between social groups, focusing especially on the role of social ecology -- including friends, teachers, constructed environments, and media -- in intergroup relations, inequality, stress, and education. To do so, we use both experimental and correlational methods, prioritizing real-world data from the field. Our ultimate goal is to identify avenues for effective interventions to reduce inequality, build understanding across group divides, and promote wellbeing and success for all. We respect and encourage varied backgrounds, communication styles, work styles, and perspectives in the lab.

Research Assistants

Michelle Mardones

Michelle is a senior majoring in Neuroscience and Behavior. She is interested in developmental cognitive neuroscience and child development, specifically the role representation in education plays in self-confidence.

Stephanie Martinez-Lopez

Stephanie is a senior at Barnard majoring in Psychology with a minor in English. She is interested in how adversities and trauma impact the psychological development of young children.

Sabrina Salam

Sabrina is in her fourth year at Barnard College majoring in Psychology and Human Rights. She is interested in understanding injustices through a social psychological lens of prejudice and discrimination.

Ruby Zeidman

Ruby is a senior at Barnard majoring in Psychology and Human Rights. She is interested in social and developmental psychology, specifically in understanding the interplay of social psychology and developmental processes in children and adolescents.

Xinwan Zhang

Xinwan is a senior at Barnard College majoring in Psychology and Sociology and minoring in Statistics. She is broadly interested in the field of counseling psychology and specifically the experience of international students in the mental health system in the US.

Ruixuan Zhao

Ruixuan is a senior at Barnard majoring in Psychology with a minor in Economics. She is interested in gender inequality in education. She’s also broadly interested in clinical psychology.

Celia Ziliak

Celia is a senior at Barnard studying Psychology and Gender & Sexuality Studies. They are interested in the social maintenance of gender identity as well as how individuals’ identities influence their social networks and vice versa.

Interested in working in the Group Dynamics Lab?

Undergraduate students: If you are interested in working as a research assistant in the lab, you can find the lab application and instructions for applying here. Research assistants must be available for a minimum of 6 hours per week to work in the lab. If there are no positions currently available, your application will be archived until a position becomes available. You do not need to be a Psychology major to apply (for example, Computer Science students interested in applying programming skills to social psychological research are encouraged, as are students approaching similar topics from other disciplinary perspectives such as Education, Sociology, Gender Studies, Africana Studies, etc.).

Graduate students: I occasionally work with MA students from the Quantitative Methods in Social Sciences program at Columbia who have advanced skills in data processing and management, computational text analysis/natural language processing, social network analysis, multilevel modeling, and/or web scraping. Please email me directly to inquire about opportunities. I do not currently advise PhD students at Columbia, but if you are a current doctoral student interested in collaborating for a comps project or otherwise, please email me.

Contact Me

Kate Turetsky
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Barnard College, Columbia University

415 Milbank Hall
3009 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
Office: 212-853-3773
Email: kturetsky [at]