Dr. Spencer is the Robert K. and Dale J. Weary Chair in Social Psychology. He completed his undergraduate degree at Hope College in Holland, MI and his PhD at the University of Michigan where Claude Steele was his faculty mentor. After brief stints at the State University of New York at Buffalo and Hope College as an Assistant Professor, he was at the University of Waterloo for 19 years. He has served as an associate editor for the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, as the chair of the executive committee of the Society for Experimental Social Psychology, and won the Gordon Allport Prize for his paper with Greg Walton on Latent Ability.
Dr. Spencer does research on motivation and the self, particularly on how these factors affect stereotyping and prejudice. In examining motivation and the self, he also examines how implicit processes that are outside of people's awareness affect people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. In examining stereotyping and prejudice, he studies how threats to the self-concept can lead to stereotyping and prejudice, and how this stereotyping and prejudice affects subsequent feelings about the self. He also examines how being a member of a stereotyped group affects people's self-concept and academic performance.