L Taylor Phillips

New York University Stern School of Business


I am an Assistant Professor in Management & Organizations at NYU’s Stern School of Business. Access to resources and rewards is unevenly distributed, across teams, organizations, and societies. How do we manage these social hierarchies and resulting inequities? My research focuses on understanding an important but understudied component of hierarchy management: the psychology of privilege, or how benefitting from inequity affects human beliefs and behavior.

I explore the effects of privilege and advantage using diverse research methods, including lab experiments, field experiments, longitudinal approaches, and physiological, visual, and cognitive tools. By understanding the psychology of privilege, my work points out ways to better manage advantaged group members and their involvement in inclusion efforts, which can help organizations achieve their diversity and equity goals.

My collaborators include Brian Lowery, Nicole Stephens, Nir Halevy, and Kristin Laurin. I am a SPARQ faculty affiliate, collaborating with Geoff Cohen, Jennifer Eberhardt, and Hazel Markus. I earned my PhD at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, where I also worked with Nalini Ambady in the Department of Psychology. I was also a Stanford DARE Fellow, NSF Graduate Fellow, and co-founder/president of the Stanford Graduate School of Business PhD Organization of Women.

I am originally from Kentucky, which means that I am a huge college basketball fan. Outside of research, I also enjoy taking studio dance classes, hiking/travel, and exploring in general.


Is privilege real?   How is advantage maintained?   Who has privilege?

I study social hierarchies – how they are built, maintained, experienced, and changed. I am especially interested in the psychology of advantage or privilege. How does elite or privileged position in a social hierarchy influence beliefs, motivations, and behavior? I examine people’s motivations and beliefs about inequality, race, and diversity, and how these beliefs influence intergroup behavior and social inequality.


Phillips, L.T. & Lowery, B.S. (2018). Herd invisibility: The psychology of racial privilege. Current Directions in Psychological Science.
Phillips, L.T., Slepian, M.L, Hughes, B.L. (2018). Perceiving groups: The people perception of diversity and hierarchy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 114, 766-785.
Phillips, L.T. & Lowery, B.S. (2015). The hard-knock life? Whites claim hardships in response to race inequity. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 61, 12-18.
Halevy, N. & Phillips, L.T. (2015). Conflict templates in negotiations, disputes, joint decisions, and tournaments. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 6, 13-22.
Phillips, L.T., Weisbuch, M., & Ambady, N. (2014). People perception: Social vision of groups and consequences for organizing and interacting. Research in Organizational Behavior, 34, 101-127.
Stephens, N.M., Markus, H.R., & Phillips, L.T. (2014). Social class culture cycles: How three gateway contexts shape selves and fuel inequality. Annual Review of Psychology, 65, 611-634.
Phillips, L.T., Conner, A.L., Cohen, G., Eberhardt, J.L., & Maitreyi, A. (2014). Identity activation to improve donor recruitment, retention, and conversion. SPARQ Solutions Catalog, Case Analysis.
Stephens, N.M., Townsend, S.S.M., Markus, H.R., & Phillips, L.T. (2012). A cultural mismatch: Independent cultural norms produce greater increases in cortisol and more negative emotions among first-generation college students. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 1389-1393.

Under Revision or Review

Phillips, L.T. & Lowery, B.S. (invited revision, JPSP). I ain’t no fortunate one: On the motivated denial of class privilege.

Phillips, L.T., Stephens, N.M, & Townsend, S.S.M. (invited revision, PSPB). Access is not enough: Institutional cultural mismatch limits first-generation students’ opportunities for achievement throughout college.

Phillips, L.T., Rattan, A., & Markus, H.R. (under review). Decoding confederate flag support: The multiple determinants of white southerners’ preference for a racially divisive symbol.

Belmi, P., Phillips, L.T., & Laurin, K. (under review). Is it fair to get ahead by playing politics? The flexibility of merit enables self-serving judgments of political maneuvering.