• Dr. Jason A. Okonofua

    Social Psychologist

    Assistant Professor

    University of California, Berkeley

    Thank you for visiting!


    Dr. Jason Okonofua is a social psychologist in the Psychology Department at the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Okonofua is interested in science-based and scalable strategies to combat inequity in society. This work spans contexts such as education, criminal justice, and business. It investigates how negative stereotypes can contribute to disparities in life outcomes and how that process can be dismantled. For example, some of his research in education investigates how the effects of one person’s stereotyping and another person’s threat reverberate and escalate over time. He asks how stereotypes about stigmatized children can shape how they interact with teachers, administrators, and police officers. He also develops theory-based psychological interventions that protect teacher-student relationships from the deleterious effects of stigma and bias. Dr. Okonofua's work is situated to inform psychological theory, field experimentation, and public policy.


    Research interests: stereotyping, threat, scalable psychological intervention, bias, behavioral science, education, criminal justice.

  • Social Psychology Research

    "...to affect motivation on a large scale."

    Curriculum Vitae



    Sidelining Bias: A Situationist Approach to Reduce the Consequences of Bias in Real-World Contexts



    A scalable empathic-mindset intervention reduces group disparities in school suspensions




    Department of Psychology

    University of California

    2121 Berkeley Way West

    Berkeley, California 94704


    Primary e-mail: okonofua@berkeley.edu



    Assistant Professor, Psychology Department

    University of California, Berkeley, CA 2016-present


    Post Doctoral Researcher, Psychology Department

    Stanford University, Stanford, CA 2015-2016



    Ph.D. in psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA

    Advisers: Dr. Gregory Walton & Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt


    B.A. in psychology and African American studies, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL

    Advisers: Dr. Jennifer Richeson & Dr. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale June 2008



    Cialdini Award,

    Society for Personality and Social Psychology, 2018


    People's Choice Award,

    TheRoot 100


    Distinguished Scholar Award,

    Stanford University, Vice Provost of Graduate Education, 2015


    Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence,

    Stanford University, Black Community Services Center, 2015


    Graduate Research Opportunity Award,

    Stanford University, School of Humanities and Science, 2013


    Diversity Travel Award,

    Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), 2013


    Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award,

    Stanford University, Psychology One Program, 2011


    First Runner-up Graduate Research Poster Award,

    Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), 2010


    William H. Exum Award for scientific paper,

    Northwestern University, Sociology Department, 2008


    Undergraduate Fellowship,

    Northwestern University, Institute for Policy Research, 2007



    New Teacher Center

    Research Grant, 2019-present


    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

    Research Grant, 2019-present


    Google/Tides Foundation

    Research Grant, 2017-present


    Character Lab
    Research Grant, 2015-present

    Social Psychological Answers to Real-World Questions, SPARQ

    Fellow, 2014 - Present


    Bureau of Justice Statistics, Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research

    Research Grant, 2013


    Diversity Dissertation Research Opportunity, Stanford Vice Provost for Graduate Education,

    Research Grant, 2013-2015


    Diversifying Academia, Recruiting Excellence

    Fellowship, 2013-2015


    Ford Foundation

    Diversity Dissertation Fellowship Honorable Mention, 2011


    National Science Foundation

    Graduate Research Fellowship Honorable Mention, 2010


    Ford Foundation

    Diversity Dissertation Fellowship Honorable Mention, 2010


    Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education

    Graduate Fellowship, Stanford University, 2009-2015



    Perez, A. D., & Okonofua, J. A. (2022). The good and bad of a reputation: Race and punishment in K-12 schools. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 100, 104287.
    Walton, G. M., Okonofua, J. A., Remington Cunningham, K., Hurst, D., Pinedo, A., Weitz, E., ... & Eberhardt, J. L. (2021). Lifting the bar: A relationship-orienting intervention reduces recidivism among children reentering school from juvenile detention. Psychological Science, 32(11), 1747-1767.


    Bookser, B. A.*, Ruiz, M.*, Olu-Odumosu, A.*, Kim, M., Jarvis, S. N.*, & Okonofua, J. A. (2021). Context matters for preschool discipline: Effects of distance learning and pandemic fears. School Psychology.


    Okonofua, J. A., Saadatian, K.*, Ocampo, J.*, Ruiz, M.*, & Oxholm, P. D.* (2021). A scalable empathic supervision intervention to mitigate recidivism from probation and parole. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(14).


    Okonofua, J. A., Perez, A. D.*, & Darling-Hammond, S.* (2020). When policy and psychology meet: Mitigating the consequences of bias in schools. Science advances, 6(42).


    Okonofua, J. A., & Ruiz, M.* (2020). The Empathic-discipline intervention. G. M. Walton & A. J. Crum (Eds.). Handbook of Wise Interventions: How Social Psychology Can Help People Change, Guilford Press: New York.


    Jarvis, S. N.*, & Okonofua, J. A. (2020). School deferred: When bias affects school leaders. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 11(4), 492-498.


    Goyer, J. P., Cohen, G. L., Cook, J. E., Master, A., Apfel, N., Lee, W., ... Okonofua, J. A. & Walton, G. M. (2019). Targeted identity-safety interventions cause lasting reductions in discipline citations among negatively stereotyped boys. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 117(2), 229.


    Okonofua, J. A. & Eberhardt, J. A. (2015). Two-strikes: Race and disciplinary action in K-12 schooling. Psychological Science.


    Okonofua, J. A., Walton, G. M., & Eberhardt, J. A. (2016). A vicious cycle: Racial bias and perceptions of bias interactively perpetuating disproportionate discipline. Perspectives on Psychological Science.


    Okonofua, J. A., Paunesku, D., & Walton, G. M. (2016). A brief intervention to encourage empathic discipline halves suspension rates among adolescents. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


  • News Coverage


    Segment on Melissa Harris Perry’s Show

    Watch interview about my research that shows how large race disparities in school discipline in the United States are, in part, driven by racial stereotypes that can lead teachers to escalate their negative responses to Black students over the course of multiple interpersonal (e.g., teacher-to-student) encounters.

    Posted: 4/26/15

    The New York Times

    Article by David L. Kirp

    The Wall Street Journal

    Article by Alison Gopnik

    Public Broadcasting Station

    Article by Sarah D. Sparks

    Huffington Post

    Article by Rebecca Klein


    Article by Alex Dobuzinskis

    Pacific Standard

    Article by Nathan Collins

    Science Update by American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

    Podcast by Bob Hirshon

    "Race & School Discipline"

    Posted: 4/22/15

    Huffington Post

    Article by Wray Herbert

  • Ongoing Research

    Mindsets Intervention

    Suspension Rates

    I am currently collaborating with school districts throughout the country to continue to test the efficacy of my "Empathic Discipline" intervention which has been found to cut suspension rates in half and can potentially combat the effects of implicit bias.

    Transition Intervention

    Juvenile Detention

    I am currently developing a theory-based psychological intervention around reintegration for juvenile offenders.