I did my undergraduate degree at Bristol University from 1978 to 1981 at the time when a number of influential social identity scholars where there (Tajfel, Turner, Giles, Reicher, etc.) and then went to do my PhD at Exeter supervised by Dick Eiser (although I worked more closely with Joop van der Pligt). At Exeter the three of us worked on a project concerned with attitudes to nuclear energy in the light of plans by the CEGB to build a new nuclear power station in the South West (never realised). However my interest lay more in group processes and social identity (the Bristol influence). Neither of my supervisors had much interest in social identity so I decided to do research on stereotyping from a more social cognition angle and did my PhD on the illusory correlation explanation of stereotype formation.
After finishing my PhD and working in Exeter as a postdoc for a year I went to Manchester to take up a postdoc research fellowship there and worked with Tony Manstead and Martin Lea. Here I started work on stereotyping from a social identity perspective. I also started work on social influence in computer-mediated communication with Martin who was also postdoc working on an Alvey funded project in Manchester at that time (the COSMOS project). That collaboration has continued to this day (as has periodic research with Tony who later came to Amsterdam). I then went to Dundee for a year where I worked with Charles Abraham and Dominic Abrams on an ESRC funded project looking at HIV preventive attitudes and behaviors. This was not a happy move and when Joop approached me to come Amsterdam in 1989 I jumped at the chance. I have been here for the last 11+ years, since 1995 as Professor of Experimental Social Psychology. I edited the British Journal of Social Psychology from 1994 to 1999.
Excluding the current crop I have (co)supervised seven PhD students (CarolienMartijn, Bertjan Doosje, Tom Postmes, Mariette Berndsen, Jolanda Jetten, Annet Nienhuis, and Daniel Wigboldus) six of whom have remained in academia. I have collaborated with Bertjan and Naomi Ellemers for the last six years (our research summarized in a 1999 co-edited book) and have also worked with Heather Smith, Karen Long, Wim Koomen, Diederik Stapel, Alex Haslam, Tom Postmes, Jolanda Jetten, Nyla Branscombe, Ap Dijsksterhuis, Colin Leach, Ernestine Gordijn and Michael Platow (among others).
Written by: Russell Spears