Neil Hester, PhD

Neil Hester, PhD

Assistant Professor

University of Waterloo

Note: I plan to admit one or two PhD students to start in Fall 2023 (Canadian applicants prioritized for funding reasons). See here for more info!

Why is it that different people seem more or less attractive, trustworthy, competent, or threatening? My work investigates the myriad factors that explain how perceivers form impressions of targets. This work encompasses topics such as stereotyping and discrimination, social categorization, face perception, and perceptions of bodies and clothing. I also grapple with issues of measurement and causal inference in the domain of person perception.

My research engages with key theories and models in social psychology while also integrating critical ideas from outside of psychology (e.g., intersectionality theory). In my work, I use a combination of experimental methods, secondary analysis of large datasets, simulation, and mixed methods. I have published papers in various outlets, such as The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Psychological Science, and Perspectives on Psychological Science. In my spare time, I enjoy singing, playing/watching basketball, and writing music (I have an EP with a friend called Sunfall).



Hester, N., Xie, S. Y., Bertin, J. A., & Hehman, E. (in press). Stereotypes shape response competition when forming impressions. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations.

Hester, N., Axt, J. R., Siemers, N., & Hehman, E. (2022). Evaluating validity properties of 25 race-related scales. Behavior Research Methods.

Hartman, R., Hester, N., & Gray, K. (2022). People see political opponents as more stupid than evil. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Hester, N., Xie, S. Y., & Hehman, E. (2021). Little between-region and between-country variance when forming impressions of others. Psychological Science.

Hester, N., Jones, B. C., & Hehman, E. (2021). Perceived femininity and masculinity contribute independently to facial impressions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Hester, N., Payne, K., Brown-Iannuzzi, J., & Gray, K. (2020). On intersectionality: How complex patterns of discrimination emerge from simple stereotypes. Psychological Science.

Hester, N., & Gray, K. (2020). The moral psychology of raceless, genderless strangers. Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Hester, N., Payne, K., & Gray, K. (2020). Promiscuous condemnation: People assume immorality for ambiguous actions. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Cooley, E.*, Hester, N.*, Cipolli, W., Rivera, L., Abrams, K., Pagan, J., Sommers., S. R., Payne, K. (2020). Racial biases in officers’ decisions to frisk are amplified for Black people stopped among groups leading to similar biases in searches, arrests, and use of force. Society for Psychology and Personality Science.

Hester, N. (2019). Perceived negative emotion in neutral faces: Gender-dependent effects on attractiveness and threat. Emotion.

Hester, N. & Gray, K. (2018). For Black men, being tall increases threat stereotyping and police stops. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Buck, B., Hester, N., Pinkham, A., Harvey, P. D., Jarskog, L. F., & Penn, D. L. (2018). The bias toward intentionality in schizophrenia: Automaticity, context, and relationships to symptoms and functioning. Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

Buck, B. & Hester, N. (2018). “Just like someone with mental illness, only more so”: Normalizing beliefs and their buffering effects. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.

Jackson, J. J., Hester, N., Gray, K. (2018). The faces of God in America: Revealing religious diversity across people and politics. PLoS ONE.

Gray, K., Anderson, S., Doyle, C. M., Hester, N., Schmitt, P., Vonasch, A., Allison, S., & Jackson, J. J. (2018). To be immortal, do good or evil. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Larsen, J. T., Hershfield, H. E., Hester, N., & Stastny, B. J. (2017). On the relationship between positive and negative affect: Their correlation and their co-occurrence. Emotion.

Buck, B., Hester, N., Penn, D. L., & Gray, K. (2017). Mind perception in subclinical psychosis: Evidence for differential patterns in perceptions of mind in schizotypy and paranoia. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry.

Schein, C., Hester, N. & Gray, K. (2016). The visual guide to morality: Vision as an integrative analogy for moral experience, variability and mechanism. Social and Personality Psychology Compass.